June 12, 2021


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Is Drum Corps Changing For the Better Or Can You Still Call It Drum Corps?

1 min read

Drum Corps season is underway and I am absolutely excited to see the exhibition of incredible talent that is on display at Arenas across the country. That being said, there has been so much divisiveness in regards to the evolving uniform designs, the addition of electronics and a host of other changes.

Watch this video and consider what I think and afterwards, please feel free to add in your two cents as I would love to know YOUR thoughts!!!

So what do you think? Is all of this change a good thing or a bad thing?



21 thoughts on “Is Drum Corps Changing For the Better Or Can You Still Call It Drum Corps?

  1. For a long time, these groups have been much more than drum and bugle corps. They should not be called drum and bugle corps. They should be called something like "field ensembles".
    DCI should be FEI.

  2. First, a major caveat….I definitely do value the talent and effort that today’s kids are putting into this activity. I will never put down the hard work they do and will never undermine their experience. This is just about how I personally feel about the direction of drum corps.

    I think that the “interesting artistic direction” that drum corps is moving to will be the demise of Drum Corps.
    Today’s corps are designed for indoor shows and the touchy feely crowd. They continue to use indoor venues for the championships and it’s become painfully obvious that Drum and Bugle Corps has become a WGI performance dance show with horns and percussion.

    As I’ve grown long in the tooth, I’ve seen many, many countless corps die an ignominious death. I’ve watched all of my own corps die (Blue Stars/Spirit) then rise from the ashes to something that if I saw them without knowing who they were, I’d never guess that Bob the Builder used to rock out white helmets with the red plumes and everyone knew who you were.

    So, before you young ones tell me that I’m a closed minded old guy, please know that I really do have an open mind. I marched in the late 70’s when corps were truly starting to break out of the regimented shows. I really liked the direction DCI took in the early to late 80’s even into the mid 90’s with super creative drill and shows while still maintaining corps identity. However, since then, we alumni and fans have lost the passion that used to be in our blood and in our soul for drum corps.
    We stopped going to shows. We stopped giving money to our alumni corps and trust me, we do have money. We stopped calling friends and telling them how cool drum corps is and let’s road trip to a show. We don’t even recognize what drum corps is anymore. If we didn’t have a program or an announcer telling us who’s on next, we’d be hard pressed to know which corps is which anymore. We stopped screaming and crying at shows like we did when they heard the ‘79 Spirit closer (Power, pure unadulterated lush power, a Jim Ott horn line), any SCV show in the early ‘80’s (creative, traditions to the max, so freaking clean!), the 27th lancers guard (oh my!), or the Scouts absolutely crushing Malagueña (pick a year…my heart still pounds when I watch the ‘88 show!). We were just as passionate about the shows we marched in and all fans everywhere loved “the show” that DCI provided them. And if you didn’t know it, back in the day, most fans of DCI that actually went to events weren’t just a bunch of band kids and musicians. It was everyone. You would have cities in middle America that would jam stadiums with old and young alike on a Thursday night to hear the power of sound that would leave your chest thumping and your blood racing. The roughly 15-20 main corps at DCI Finals back in the day used to have a supporting cast of hundreds and hundreds of corps where kids of all talent levels and financial means could participate and those kids aspired and had a real chance to go to the big leagues (I went from a very small corps in New Orleans to a couple of DCI finals corps). DCI had become such a big deal then that every year Finals was broadcast on national TV for everyone to see (ok it was PBS, but still…. ). Not just an online streaming pay account.

    As a former band director and percussion instructor, I have personally given years to marching music and hate to see the current direction it’s taken. Bandrooms around the country are empty and marching shows from high school to drum corps are too hard for the average fan in the stands to understand without a Broadway playbill….and they don’t have a clue what the music set they just heard meant, much less enjoyed.

    So the real question for the “artistic is better” crowd is this. Is DCI for the musicians and judges? Or is it for the audience and fans? Seriously…this really is key.

    Right now, DCI has alienated so many fans that there will be a day when the only ones in the stands will be the parents and the judges. Maybe won’t happen tomorrow but it will happen.

    Open mind? I have one. Vision? I see DCI gone before I go. Traditions? DCI threw them right out the window.

    Traditions..you know, real uniforms, corps colors, Phantom in helmets, SCV in Aussie hats, and yes, I’ll say it….a wall of sound only G bugles could provide (without amplifiers).
    Traditions….that’s the one thing that will keep ALL types of fans in the stands and paying to see shows. Ask any college fan if traditions mean anything? Tell the FSU folks that Osceola isn’t allowed on the field to plant the spear anymore, tell the Alabama fans that they can’t say Roll Tide or wear their houndstooth, tell the Ohio State fans that they can’t “dot the i “ or the USC band to take off the Roman headgear and make them wear spandex. Hundreds of thousands of fans grace the fields every week because of traditions regardless of how good their team is doing. Traditions??? Yes. They really do mean something. You can innovate and grow but you should never let your traditions die.

    DCI should look very carefully into their crystal ball because our beloved activity is really dying whether you believe the artistic direction is good or not.

    Sorry for the rant but at the end of the day, will drum corps survive? I hope it does, but it’s obvious to me (again…my opinion only) that DCI and drum corps will eventually “out artistic” itself and painfully whither away.

    Just some old, closed minded, no vision, snare guy that actually did march in “the day”. (Stardusters, Blue Stars, Spirit).

  3. I no longer go to any show, lost interest. My kids are also not very interested anymore, and they're in HS. Its not due to lack of talent. But its definitely due to lack of something…love? soul? maybe both? Money is hard to come by and just can't spend that type of money for something not satisfying anymore.

  4. People keep saying bluecoats 2016 ruined drum Corp which is crazy. They changed it not ruined it. They gave new ideas. That show was amazing and different. Plus DRUM CORP ISNT DEAD. It’s seriously not. It’s crazy to say that it is

  5. Here are the major problems with current show design:
    1) Frantic running, running running to the next destination with no dramatic purpose. Then they run somewhere else. Like their pants are on fire. They look comedic, almost schizophrenic.
    2) Too much contemporary dance. It looks like sign language on crack. We can't understand you. It's inaccessible garbage. Stop it. Focus. Clarity of movement.
    3) Contemporary dance moves are derivative and cliche. Stop rolling on the ground every eight counts. It's overused. You look emotionally unhinged and clown-like.
    4) Drum corps' contemporary dance moves show too much outward emotion. Look at how reserved these professional contemporary dancers are in this video. They're focused, they don't over-emote, and they don't constantly fall on the ground and clutch their hearts. Also, notice how they're dressed like people. Human beings. This is the state of the art. www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0zqQxz4DHs

  6. When I was coming up in drum corps, they were geared more towards military style regimen, now a days, drum corps are geared more towards theatricals, witch is a good thing, It brings more excitement, in my opinion especially for people who have never experienced being in a drum and bugle corps before.

  7. I think around 2003-2014 were the golden years of drum corps. This was the point were it was a perfect blend of tradition and predictable identities while the corps still could be creative and show the talent of their members off. For example, old or young everyone could love BD 2014 or Cadets 2011 and many others. Now, these show have gotten a little out of hand.

  8. Sometimes what bugs me is when the front percussion ensemble (the pit) overplays to the extent where you can't hear the freaking snare drums, except for the occasional "keck" or "gock" (rimshot). I'm not a fan of horns that are concert-style and not "bell-front". Sometimes the trombones don't fit the theme or arrangement. And a guard/auxillary whose flags aren't synchronized, or that can't dance good, well, it's not the modern corps per se that irks this old skool dude; it's the lack of precision in many corps outside of the top 25 in world class junior. And would it hurt the kids in the color guard if they could stay in step as they pass in review after a performance or at retreat? You want more fans to pay 50 bucks to see your shows? Work on precision.

  9. I played in Junior Corp in the Mid 70's and today, most of those corps are gone. I feel that most of that is cause of the Money involved to be in Corp. This now takes out the events for kids to play music and enjoy a summer thing. I feel that the formation of DCI was suppose to happen but it has become a big money making thing. Also, when I played, there was no pit and the songs we played were songs that people knew and that is what they were coming for, DCI stopped this part. Also, the field show was an art of creating shapes with the members, not dancing around the whole show. To escape DCI, I joined the Senior Corp circuit and it was a good thing for a while longer. I think that we should look at changing some of the rules that DCI has put in and go back to playing music that people know.

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