Discussion covering all aspects of drum corps percussion

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Post by rysa4 » Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:33 pm


Well its time to dust off the pit and battery roundtable area and show the drumline flag here at the forum. Although I couldnt make San Antonio, I was glad to hop up to Denver and enjoy Drums ALong the Rockies last night.

Venue- Mile High Stadium is really a great venue--much better than San Antonio. The weather was perfect and the Blue Knights were GREAT hosts. Half of the tickets were on the club level which was spacious, comfortable and well staffed. Those of us with VIP tickets got quite the dinner and support bag deal too.

Anyway...onto the show...

1. Local Senior Corp- Its good to support this activity I suppose- but unfortunately audio and visual pain was the price. Perhaps there should be some pre-screening as far as minimal preparedness needed before anything goes on a field-- or perhpas not. Whatever..it was truely that bad.

2. Troopers- Very happy to see this corp again...they were fully loaded for the evening too. Cool drum warm up but lots of ticks/inconsistencies. Need more focus. Opening snare phrases were suprisingly clean. Tended to miss rolls as far as cleanliness of technique and sound..a common finding until we got further into the night among all corps. They had trouble when needing to change direction and still play a passage containing rolls, or if they had to change spacing to meld through the colorguard for instance during the drill. Bass Drum line was a bit fat--transistions between tonal bass drum sizes wasnt quite smooth. The pit overall was well balanced with the field corps but the mallet instruments could have used more volume in my opnion. I liked the small pod divisions during the show where the various perrcussive and bras voices divided up and played in smaller groups. Fun! The first quad feature was very clean but was done while standing still. The better lines tend to be moving when playing tough passages just to show they can or to accentuate the drill and music together. The Drill had fairly serious spacing problems and there was one absolutely critical rifle drop where the whole corps is stopped and everyone is waiting for the last catch. I felt bad for that one but respected that she had her chin up and kept going. The snae book was very exposed...a good thing!

2. Mandarins- the whole opening sequence was beautiful I thught were they are establishing this sort of dreamy gardeny ASian theme-- but its not judged becuase it is pre you may enter the field of competition stuff. Too bad! The snare line had a rough start with many ticks, missed double stops and dirty drum rolls. They only started to gel exactly halfway into their first drum solo. They played in a timid fashion relative to the more aggressive drumlines and were sloppy. The show is half ASian and half African --which is a totlally cool idea culturally and musically. Thye had four pit jungle drums playing simultaneously that were right on, even though a color guard member plays one of them ( she is cute too!)--but it does tell you that the part isnt that hard. The snare book is too simple and not challening. meaning everything very down beat in 4/4 timebased on 16th note patterns almost exclusively with short rolls and diddles and a very occasional more interesting short rythmic phrase at the end of long simple passages. The quad feature down in front was great and interesting musically. I like the uniforms too.

3. Seattle Cascades

Drumline and corps open with a single right haded accented eigth note pattern which was done well. Very exposed triplet rolls moving into doubles occurs thereafter done well. Very nicely written seamless drumming musically as the various percussive passges trail off into transitions. This drumline controlled time and transitions very well. Mostly due to the field drum writing. During the ballad I did note that the hornline had a suprisingly nice balanced sound. Unfortunely, the drumline downtime during the ballad was very long and they actually parked themselves on the sideline instead of being writtien into the drill somehow.. a huge rysa4 no-no. Stay in the game. Always. Bass drum rolls were excellent and overall percussion writing was very attentive to details particularly in how the end of musical phrases were handled. Visually and musically tight. I like the floating of percussive instruments occurung across the corp very much as well as writing floating 8th note triplet variations over musically simultaneous 4/4 passages from the brass. The snare line did have trouble with performing clean rum rolls unfortunately. The 4th drummer from the left ( tall) has a left hand traditional grip problem where he rolls his wrists which causes the stick to not hit the drum up and down coniststently. This will always cause a fat non-tight sound no matter how well the rest of the line plays. Most likely a match grip player trying to convert. Mallet/pit book is fairly complex and well performed. The corps is a pleasure!

4. Pacific Crest- Has a marching cymbal line!!! The first of many tonight. Marking a comeback of the marching cymbals. And a dynasty drum set on the sidelines too. This drumline takes a more aggressive approach to music than the predecessors this evening. Had some quite ragged moments however basically everytime the judge would move in front of the. This particular well known percussion judge likes to run and jump right infront suddenly of lines and I think it spooked the kids throughout the show. They would be playing really well and then hed pop right in and they would just lose it. Lesson- dont pay attention to the green shirted folks. Doing that means a lack of focus and concentration on performance and a lack of knowing and awareness of your fellow corps members around you. Always need that. Nice visuals from the cymbal line and nice ride cymbal sound and execution from the front line set player. The unifed small group brass/vocal/soloist integration was nice and appropriate and done well. Marching visual and M and M not as challening as many of the other corps show is my only other note.

5. Crossmen- Those Capes are very effective visually. Frontline pit creates sound/mood very well in the opening. Excellent percussive effects. Nice sound. ALL UNSCORED. becuase it occured prior to the beginning of the judging. SNareline opens the show while moving-subtle and done well. Quads feature in front early and perform very well. I thought the opening from the drumline was top notch. A higher quality group of pit percusion performers is very capable of carrying off musical transitions working well with field percussion back and forth without phasing problems despite the distance. Pat Methaneys First Circle segments flowed well. Snare line was clean and dynamic musically while moving backwards. The frontline was amplified better than previous corps. The drum split feature was well perfomed. I thought the scratching record sound was a good effect for changing the mood of the music and reflected visually in the corps as well that the audience could grasp easily too. The drumline is close to very clean overall. Some unfortunate downbeat 1/4 note errors/inconistencies moreso near the end of the show. ( never a good time). Crossmen had a good show tonight. Did I mention the marching cymbals?? Way to go folks.

6. Academy- is instructed by Glen Crosby, who is excellent and one of my instructors at Garfield followed by 10 years with SCV after that. You know the writing and performance is going to be interesting in a good way by definition.And it was. There was no drum warm up. The opening attacks are very difficult and done very well. Musically the field percusion book opening is dramatic and well done. The frontline percussion ( pit) create mood very well. Exposed early long field drum interchange between snares/bass drums/and quads was clean and just great to see and hear. Long snare rolls are very exposed. All kinds of rythmic changes/speed changes done well with visual and music integrated in a way that each supports the other. The field drum line was really playing as an integrated unti and parts were writtien that way in w ay that the preceding corps were not. And...THEY HAVE A MARCHING CYMBAL LINE!!! This drumline really has it despite somewhat low scoring. I like the steel drum parts too. Check em out!The pit sets up the hornline musically at times. Pit handles trnaitions for the full corps very well. Snare ride cymbal parts are very clean and just cut right through. A mark of clean. The mallets in the pit have a very nice feature--the first of the evening for the pit mallet section. AT this point I am ready to buy the 2007 finals DVD. I am sold. They did have some misses right before the ballad. Have to focus all the way through is the lesson. Dont give up the easy stuff. Gongs bass drum well used in pit. Nice heart formation and the theme of the show was clearly communicated I thought. In the end, the hornline stops the less desirable guy and the lady and good guy get to "hug". Nice.

7.Glassmen- No drumline warm up.Opening clap and percussion I thought was pretty neat. There was a badly missed simultaneous quad double stop early. Percussion as a unit had some phasing problems between field and pit I thought. The drum book isnt as musicaly interesting as Academy I thought. Very downbeat. Lots of downtime for the drumline in the opener. Bass drum line plays well together. The show just wasnt as visually or musically exciting as Academy from my pont of view.

8. Santa Clara Vanguard- Pit opens the show with slow bells and marimba. AND THEY MARCH A CYMBAL LINE- AND WERE THE BEST MARCHING CYMBAL LINE OF THE NIGHT. Mallets were more intense this year than the past two years. Atmospheric mallet opening is much better. Cymbal line is notable for visually and musically performing well as a unit. Quad-brass integration is perfect in the opener. Brass solo integrated with pit percussion is excellent ( exclamation point!-the theme of the show FYI) Quads tire it up on their feature. Snares had some problems crushing rolls but were very dynamic ( the rolls were written to be open obviously) In the ballad the pit phased a bit with the corps. I thought the drumline was musically interesting overall and enjoyable. The corps marching and visual design is a weakness despite any scoring that says otherwise however. There is a large gap between them and Carolina Crown and Bluecoats. Dont be fooled.

9.Blue Knights- The fans went wild before the show. I mean wild. Nice contrabas opening. Drill is a little too simple in the opening. Snare book build to first major attack is off a bit at the beginning. The hornline sound is fabulous. During the slower ballad I thought there was more opportunity for more challening pit percussion writing than what transpired. Nice tympani feature brings in field drum solo. Bass drum runs were excellent and right on. some notable inconsistencies in the drum feature.The hornline had some intonation and pitch problems right after the drum feature but got back on track. The corps technical marching is quite good. Need a better visual design overall.

10. Carolina Crown- As the horses all got ready for the show a nice traditional hornline opening ensued. The drumline begins by playing fairly cleanly and musically and obviously is better than last year. There was one missed drumline attack early however.The opening drumline feature is cleam but rythmically simple and very downbeat without the rythmic complexity of Academy before and BC and Cadtes after. What this means is that the parts are basically short rolls, sixteenth note based writing type stuff. Nothing wrong with that. But its not top drawer stuff...yet. Mallet work was good in the second half of the opener. The drumline plays reasonably clean while moving however. very nice mallet work in the ballad. The show itself creates more drama than BK by comparison You know the pit plays well together becuase the players actually phsycially move together while they play, even while changing their mallets. Now thats detailed instruction and well noted! Drum rolls are fat ( not tight but not quite ticking if you will) They do have some nice triplet to double roll exposed parts however. Soloist is very good during the percussion rift. Quads had a mess in the backfield during the William Tell Overture for a couple of bars. The line is markedly better than last year but clearly behind the leaders to a significant enough degree to prevent further movement this year. The hornline is outstanding and I like the show basically. A championship caliber show really.

11. Bluecoats- Have 12 frontline pit members, and they start the show right off. The drumline then just cooks the opner and also plays perfect very open and exposed taps. Nice off speed snare exposure in the opener too Clean. Snare rolls are truely clean as a line. The first of the night that are 1970s SCY type clean. Horns have some nice call and answer with drums. Accessory percussion is very efectiv during the whole Freeze! Prisoner criminal stuff on the narration. The percussion section is really fast paced musically Mallets/Whip--its all there. I am really ready to buy the DVD now. The pit can and does frequently carry the corps during visual transitions. Especially right before " Drop your weapons" Beautiful triplet rolls on the snare line. One of the quads didnt get his orange laser thingee folded in right by the guard member so orange dangling buggers made for a bit of a site as he was motoring around the rest of the show. The snare fold out build was excellent were the line is put back together one or two at a time while playing. 2007 Bluecoats get a rysa "Line of Excellence" award. A line I will always like to go back and see and hear.

12. That brings us to the Cadets - the last drumline I marched with. There is an excellent exposed tonal bass drum roll down the drums at the beginning. The bass drum line overall is technicaly excellent. Drumline is very clean and the horn soloist ( soprano) is best of the night by far. After the ballad the drumline is right on and clean. Lets talk about narration--so OK- I can now see where it is needed and integrated pretty much as is--except-- it needs to be lessened in the beginning, and eliminated in the ballad entirely. The whole " I was a geek in high school except when I picked up a trumpet" is just too silly and ridiculous for the crowd. Folks around me just cringed. I did too a bit. The drumline absolutely smoked their feature. I mean smoked. Visually, the corps near the end move a form quickly sideways while circled interiorly which was quite the intense move I must say. Overall however--the fact is--the show doesnt do it for me as a cohesive show. I need to see it again. I listneed to eorge talking to the corps just like it was 1985. Then I listened to the colorguard talk, then the drum line of course. Then I talked with Tom A for awhile...which was nice actually. Not at all based on anything I heard, I think the feeling is that its not quite the show that we all can really sink our teeth into. Its hard to rock with it, despite the tremendous talent and sophistication of the show.

So in line with my predictions from last year, BD still wins drums and 1st place overall...only wish I could have sen them live...ohwell.

Drums ALong the Rockies was Great and the quality of corps in the lower half is really much strnger than those same positions in previous years...a good sign.

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Post by chadwick » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:13 am

Wow! Great review and very detailed! Percussion is one area that I usually overlook when watching a show. My eyes are more drawn toward the guard and the drill work of the corps as a whole. But reading your review gives me a greater appreciation for what the battery and pit are accomplishing on the field.

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