Drums on the Ohio 2004

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by MUSICandCHARACTER, Jul 12, 2004.


    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    I went to the drum corps show, Drums on the Ohio tonight (you can read my report if you want at http://www.ibowtie.com/DOTO.html ).

    There were two things that really impressed me tonight. One came from the corps with the lowest score and the other from the corps with the highest score.

    The Pioneer Drum Corp marched second in the lineup. It rained all day, and quit about 2 hours before the competition -- and began again about an hour after it finished. A nice window (but made it quite muggy). The #2 bass drummer was moving across the field and slipped and fell hard. I know if I fell that hard, it would be 10 seconds before I sat up and probably another 20 before I got up. Not this drummer. 10 seconds later that drummer was up, running, back in formation and playing. Incredible. It really shows the character of these young adults.

    The other amazing thing that happened was the trumpet solos done by two players in the Blue Devils. The Blue Devils are last year's champions and a perennial top five finisher with many world championships to their credit. Their show, "The SummerTrain Blues Mix" was exceptionally well played. These two trumpet players exchanged the solo line back and forth. The doubles C's were solid, and one kid played way beyond that. No wimpy stuff either. It sounded like Maynard had joined them. Again, it was incredible.

    The Blue Devils won convincingly. This gives them a privilege of an encore. They played their show (standing still) again from top to bottom. Wow, what a sound. Now these kids have been playing up to eight hours a day for months. They rehearsed all afternoon, probably through the rainstorms. It was 9 PM and late and they had to be tired. If they were, they didn't show it. It musically was wonderful, and those two trumpet players hit those high notes again, without a problem.

    It made me what to come home and practice so I could keep up with the teenagers. What character, poise and musicianship.

  2. orchtrpt

    orchtrpt Pianissimo User

    Mar 4, 2004
    I enjoyed reading your post. I don't know how to put this exactly but I think there is a very dark side to these Bugle Corps. Although I personally know some very good players who have come out of them. For the most part the people I see who come out of these lack any sort of musicality and often times have major playing problems.

    I have seen some of these shows on TV and when I watch a performance of Firebird with 37 trumpets and flag girls just playing as loud as humanly possible it frightens me. I doubt many of the kids even know they are playing an arrangement of an orchestral work. If I had a kid I would rather put him or her in some youth orchestra or wind ensemble.


    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    I have had just the opposite experience. Most of these kids, especially in the upper Division I corps know exactly what they are playing. Of course the finish of most shows is spectacular and they talk about the "wall of sound", the corps get judged on the musicality.

    I have only been to two shows so far this year and I have heard pianissimo and fortissimo both done well and in tune. Last night, The Spirit of JSU performed a common drum corps maneuver -- playing piano facing away from the crowd, and then turning into the crowd at a fortissimo. Always a spectacular sounding maneuver. One of the fans behind simply said it was "cheap."

    Why? I asked when the corps was exiting. She said it takes a lot more control to do a crescendo without turning. Indeed.

    The Blue Devils last night faded into the end zone. Faded -- into a hushed pianissimo that was very much in tune. It was chilling. One of the fans I talked with was arguing that the Santa Clara Vanguard was very much the top corps to be beat this year. Why? I asked again. The music. Their entire show is based on Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.

    I attended the clinic given by the Boston Crusaders at the Louisville Major last month. They talked about the transformation. The discipline needed is tremendous. The change each person makes to contribute to the corps sound has to happen. They practice entrances and cutoffs, the basics at pianissimo and fortissimo everyday. We listen as they played some of their basic drills. Musically incredible.

    You want to hear loud and awful, come listen to my community band. They often don't tune, the trumpets sometmes play as loud as the can just becasue. The first trumpets sometimes play up an octave and out-of-tune a lot, and then complain they have no chops left at the end of the night. The rest of the band has no ears left. And some of them wouldn't know Rimsky-Korsakov from Karl King. They love to play jazzy pieces where they can screw around, and dislike marches and concert pieces because they take control to play well (although I must admit they are clearly changing and getting better).

    While I am sure there are some Division I and maybe some of the Division II and III corps that simply play loud -- they are not winning. Points are taken away if one snare drummer's sticks are a bit too high or if one snare dominates the rest. These groups spend more time playing as an ensemble and tuning than any symphony orchestra.

    There is a dark side to every activity. But in my experience, in the DCI they are few and far between. Lots of the fans are DCI Alums, and they usually comment about the musicality and visual effect. They know their stuff. The judges know Rimsky-Korsakov from Beethoven. And if you want to hear great blues with an amazing hushed finish, go see the Blue Devils show this year. It will give you chills.

  4. jcmacman

    jcmacman Pianissimo User

    Dec 10, 2003
    Great posts Jim.

    I am sure all the Drum Corps members(new and old) appreciate it.
    I am waiting for the Tour of Champions when it gets over here at the Rose Bowl in August.


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