Who Took the Drum Out of Drum Corps?

RAMD Virtual Symposium 1997: Crossroads


A percussionist not knowing rudiments is like a speaker trying to lecture without syllables.  The language will be primitive.  Rudimental drumming is the building block of all three percussion idioms: rudimental, drum set and orchestral.  However, because of the physical, coordinative and mental demands of the art, we "train" more than "practice".  Orchestral percussion developed as an accompaniment and tertiary art based on the single stroke roll.  Rudimental demands have always been competitive/solo and primarily based on the double stroke roll.  Drum set players have learned the techniques needed to perform consistent double stroke rudiments and are now implementing this advantage in many music avenues thinking through four limbs at a time.  Rudimental drumming is pure in that its execution involves thought patterns that can't be simplified much further, with stickings that are exact and comparable - hence, the term "rudimental". From single, double and triple strokes on one hand, come combinations by the thousands using two hands - musical mathematics - the creativity of an art form.

     Rudimental drummers are time painters.  We create tension and release with nuances of proportion, volume, accent patterns and their counterpoint, duration, endurance, texture and above all, the perfection of human visual and audio symmetry in a marching section; that symmetry a natural extension of the amphibious evolution of the human skeleton - two hands and arms...two legs and feet.  Orchestral percussionists paint with frequency.  We are quite different than that idiom and share more of a bond with the four way coordination of the drum set where rudimental styles are more transferable.

     I will review the growth of outdoor rudimental percussion performance and track its major developments leading to its zenith.  My perspective is unique because the people who trained me invented it all; the styles, coordination, training techniques and presentation/judging formats.  The explosive changes in the 1968 season propelled the rudimental art for the next decade.  Then, year by year, the drums went slowly silent.


     The use of outdoor military drums have an origin going back some thousand years.  In an attempt to take Jerusalem by force, different popes launched 100,000 person armies.  (Yes, person.  The first one was mostly women and children with few fighting age males.)  The last Crusade occurred in 1212 A.D., "The Crusade of Children", a movement that actually parallels the 400,000 young people at Woodstock in 1969 when 100,000 children left their homes and marched to Jerusalem in the hopes of changing the beliefs of their enemies. Their opponents of the Saracen Army - pre Islamic nomads of the Syrian-Arabian deserts - fielded army bands with trumpets, horns, reed pipes, shawm, drum (tabl), kettledrum (naquara), cymbals (sunji), and bells (jalajil). (DS)

     Nobles marched for the glory and possible riches of battle; children to convert the eastern nomads to their religion.  The problem was that neither side was familiar with the other's tactics.  Loud drum instruments helped give the troops battle signals above the din of war.  Before the Crusades, the armies of Western Europe usually used trumpets and horns as signalling devices, but those battles introduced the idea of using percussion.

     Records indicate an association of fife and drum for troop movements in 1332 in the northern (German) section of Basle Switzerland; part of the Famous Swiss infantry.  Fife and drum was spread through Europe by Swiss Mercenary Regiments in the 16th century.  Kettledrums and trumpets came into use in the 15th century and were especially popular with cavalry units.  Side drums carried by infantry continued to be used until the creation of the telegraph (morse code).

     Although neutral for several centuries, Switzerland still has a significant military force for their size.  Every male is a member until age fifty.  Basle drummers are no longer part of the military, but belong to a civilian corps (cliques) to perform at Fastnacht (Mardi Gras).  Many dress in costume and present political satire.  A typical unit has 20 fifes and 20 snare drums that march parade blocks of 4x5 or 5x4 with the drum major in the middle.  Fifes play three parts; snares are in unison, very high (strokes at eyeball level), loud and rubato.  Dynamics are extreme, 2 to 24 inch heights on 12x16 drums with four gut and three wire snares on a rope tensioned metal shell. (MP)

     Basle was far and away the center of the movement.  The army now has a simplified version called "ordinance drumming"; a "drumming for dummies" version of stickings with charts showing rudiments without the flams or 32nd notes.  The real origin of the swiss army triplet (,RRL,RRL) is not from Basle (, = flam grace note). Army drummers couldn't play the alternate triplets (,RLR,LRL) because they were hand to hand.  So the stickings were changed.  Their use was a slow 6/8.  (We use it speeded up in 16th or 24th note bases as a flammed multiple bounce rudiment.) Basle Trommler Band 1 and 2 contain these rudiments and can be bought today in Swiss music stores. (MP)

     No one really knows who invented the rudiments but the 'flam', 'dragge' (drag), 'roofe' (ruff) and 'rowle' (roll), all were named for their phonetic musical similarities.  (A longer duration sound could easily have been created by 'dragging' and bouncing the preparatory note on the drum head.)  Same for the roofe and rooooowle.  All of these were mentioned in the "Academy of Armoury" by Randle Holme III in 1688.  Before 1581, musical notation for the military drum are non-existent.  The roll itself was probably an offshoot of the Swiss Infantry in the 13th or 14th century. How they could perform it on the loosely tensioned drums of those times is a matter of imagination. (DS)

     Competition with drums and bugles goes back to the battles of Marignaio (1515) and Pavia (1525).  Austrian and French mercenary forces each had large bands of trumpets and kettledrums.  It is said the competitions between the two were as fierce as the soldiers. (DS)

     Infantry and drum were married by the start of the Revolutionary War, imported by rote from centuries old beatings from Europe.  This is why few musical records exist before the 19th century.  The American militia merely copied the heritage of the British at its inception in 1775.  British regulations required two drummers per company and two for the elite troops (grenadiers).  Virginia authorized one drum and fife per company while Connecticut used two; three if more than a hundred were present. (DS)

     The Continental Army tried to improve these units with daily practice and standardizing the music.  Drum Majors were appointed for instructional purposes.  In 1777, General George Washington was rather upset: "The music of the army being very bad; it is expected that the Drum and Fife Majors exert themselves to improve it or they will be reduced and their extraordinary pay taken from them." (DS)

     It seems they practiced a little too much... General William Heath a few months later:  "The Honorable House of Representatives having represented the frequent Drumming around and near the Court House greatly interrupts the Debates of Assembly, and desire that a stop may be put thereto - "  (DS)

     Drummers are forever being told to 'keep it down'.  (The many stick marks on my parents first set of furniture attest to this determination.) No one understands us... not even generals.

     The beatings that accompanied the tunes were created out of a complicated series of musical patterns with a pre-determined sense of order called the Rudiments of Drumming.  (Objective order has been the basis of its adjudication in rudimental comparison until recent times.)   gain, as 600 years before, the names were phonetic representations but with many more such as par-a-did-dle (RLRR LRLL), rat-a-ma-cue  (,,RLRL ,,LRLR).  One of my favorite complexities is pata-fla-fla (RL,R,L RL,R,L  or ,RLR,L,RLR,L).

     Rudiments were life and death.  Not only was the drummer responsible for performing the correct signals in battle, but also told the camp soldiers what to do.  Drum beatings were to be obeyed instantly.  There were not many; usually nine beats and twelve signals, but failure to adhere to what they told could cost a forming army under attack many unnecessary casualties.

     Instruments of the revolutionary War period were much larger than the 10x14 or 12x15 snares used in modern corps, yet smaller than the 24x24 inch drums used centuries earlier.  They used heavy gut strands and thick calf skin heads.  Add heavy sticks to this and execute somewhat clean (clean is loud) and you could hear the drums above the guns in battle.  Keep in mind, bass drums still were not used.  This voice appeared at the end of the century as a "Janissary" section, a throwback to the bodyguards of Turkish sultans which included triangles, cymbals, bass drums and crescent. (DS)

     Audio and visual "pulse' has always been important on the march. Rudimental drummers have always provided that pulse.  They are the focus of it.  An order from General George Washington, August 29, 1777 before a march through Philadelphia: "The drums and fifes of each are to be collected in the center of it; and a tune for the quick step played, but with such moderation, that the men may step to it with ease; and without dancing along and totally disregarding the music, as too often has been the case." (DS)  (In other words, the drummers were getting a wee bit too fancy for 'ol George and causing the men to dance instead of march.  Besides, what a great place to try out some new beats!)

     John Adams signed a bill on July 11, 1778 that allowed two Majors and 32 drummers and fifers; the forerunner of the Marine Band.  When Secretary of the Navy, Commandant William Burrows, asked for a band instead of just fifes and drums, the snare drum was lifted with Janissary percussion into a position of "legitimacy" as musical instrumentation.  These first "drum lines" have remained a part of military pageantry to this day. (DS)

     While the roots of rudimental drumming are fife and drum, its modern applications are from the U.S.Army Drum Fife and Bugle Corps.  In 1812, Charles Ashworth (conductor of Marine Band 1804-1816) published "A New Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating" which includes various beatings for duty.  Gripping the stick was discussed along with a list of 28 rudiments; 26 of which make up the NARD (National Association of Rudimental Drummers) examples a century later. (DS)

     I find this amazing because some of these rudiments involve a lead hand switch with a quick wrist turn and much coordination.  You must "know your stuff" to execute them.  They are only performed in competition by the best of competitors and have vanished from today's scene completely; very difficult to play fast.  Example: hand to hand flam paradiddle diddle (,RLRRLL ,LRLLRR).

     The first rudiment taught in that manual, as was taught me and thousands of others since, was the double stroke roll.  "Three Camps", a long exercise with short and extended rolls is in the book and still taught beginners to this day for the mastery of open and tap rolls, endurance and timing.  (When I marched Regiment, we did it in the winter at the first camps.)  The Ashworth methods were probably used up to the Civil War in 1861.

     Rudimental drumming became very important in the Civil War.  It was here, with thousands of rifles firing and repeaters coming on the scene, that the bugle began to replace the fife in battle.  Besides looking sharp for dress parades, drummers now signalled camp calls - reveille and taps - and would carry the litters of wounded off the battlefield as different regiments attacked.  They were responsible for signals to march, wheel and control of the skirmish lines, which sometimes exploded into major battles as weary armies and stragglers found the battle.  Tapping out the beats at night to tell of the camp's status gave way to the term "taps".

     Company "H" of the First Tennessee had such an occurrence:  "One evening about 4 o'clock, the drummers of the regiment began to beat their drums as hard as they could stave, and I saw men running in every direction, and the camp soon became one scene of hurry and excitement.  I asked someone what all the hubbub meant.  He looked at me with utter astonishment.  I saw the soldiers running to their tents and grabbing their guns and cartridge-boxes and hurry out again, the drums still rolling and rattling.  I asked several fellows what in the dickens did all this mean? Finally, one fellow who seemed almost scared out of his wits, answered between a wail and a shriek, "Why, sir, they are beating the long roll." Says I, "What is the long roll for?" "The long roll, man, the long roll! Get your gun; they are beating the long roll!" This was all the information I could get. Without any command or bugle sound, or anything, every soldier was in his place.  Tents, knap-sacks and everything was left indiscriminately.  We were soon on the march."  (SW)

     If you read about some of the Civil war battles like First Bull Run, the long rolls came too late.  Without modern communication, it was common for battles to turn incomprehensible quickly, such as the wild night fighting at the Wilderness where armies ran through each other and fired on their own.  Most musicians stopped playing when shots were fired and retired to the litters.   Rarely, they went forward into battle and paid for the added spirit given the troops with their lives.

     It is estimated that 40,000 boys served as drummers and fifers. Most recruits were from farms, where young boys already knew responsibility and hard work.  A twelve year old from that background was already reasonably mature.  Federal Army Regulations of 1863 sought potential musicians at a young age: "Such of the recruits as are found to possess natural talent for music, to be instructed on the fife, bugle and drum and other military instruments; the boys of twelve years of age and upward; may under his direction be enlisted for this purpose."  (IARP-1)

     The Ashworth Manual went out of print around 1861.  In 1862 came the extensively used Bruce and Emmett's, "The Drummers and Fifers Guide" which was used as an instructional guide for many more years.  This book had 38 rudiments and an accent on the second beat of a double stroke roll (probably to strengthen the muscles and coordination as a weak second note of a diddle does not sound uniform, looks weak and ruins note spacing. They must have been aware of this even back then.)  The roll was played from slow to fast, back to slow (<> as we note it) - what we now call a
"breakdown".  Breakdowns were a major part of individual competitions in the 1930's to 1960's receiving around 25 points; 15 points in 1970's DCI snare competition.  The discipline is similar to the skaters "figures" which vanished from Olympic competition about 7 years ago.  Judges would go on the ice and look at the "edges" (etchings) in the ice to compare smoothness of foot changes, balance, and speed control.  We do the same with consistency of strokes, acceleration / retard time and endurance, as they used to last 1 1/2 minutes up and down for a 3 minute total.

     "They should have kept figures." (JC 1988 USA Olympic female skating alternate.)  "They should have kept breakdowns."  (This author)

     In a rudimental contest, a breakdown gives the judge a good precursor to the level of achievement he is witnessing.  However, Janet Lynn is said to be one of the all-time great female free skaters.  She never won Olympic gold being too far down in the standings after "figures", since their scoring system was based on placement, not points.

     Drummers in the Civil War would compete on the parade grounds to see who could be "fanciest".  This was never more apparent than at re-enlistment time.  Once a soldier's time was up, he could go home.  The drummer's job was to play fancy and proud when his company was on parade, making the inebriated merry with rhythms and stickings so they would sign up for another hitch.  Most of the time, it worked.  They had grown so accustomed to "camp life" that many preferred to stay.  Besides, the honor their units held was most coveted.  Later in the war, confederate soldiers were conscripted and didn't have a choice.

     The decade following the Civil War saw many "ancient" corps organize. (Ancient = 110 beats per minute or bpm with traditional pieces.)  This trend continued into the 20th century.  Some still survive such as Chester Fife and Drum Corps 1868, Deep River 1873, Plainville 1879 and many more. The development of Connecticut's ancient corps flourished; however, only as a musical microcosm overshadowed by the burgeoning "modern" corps who played a quicker 120 bpm step and non-traditional scoring.  These 'modern' fife and drum corps began to use bugles and baton twirlers and were found in every state.  Connecticut was the center of the movement.

     By 1885, the number of Connecticut drum corps led to the creation of an association formed to "improve the drum corps" as well as foster "closer union and good fellowship" among Connecticut fifers and drummers. Membership was extended to all types of corps including ancients.  By 1940, it consisted of more than a hundred corps that sponsored field days and contests of musical skill which culminated in informal jam sessions. This is still done at Deep River and Westbrook but without competition.  ("No trophies. No judges. No hard feelings."  Jay Tuomey with this author at the Westbrook Muster in 1995 with Landcraft F&D Corps.)  There were annual competitions with prizes offered in a variety of categories:  "Best Appearing Corps", "Fancy Drilling", "Baton Twirling", (and my favorite) "1st Individual Snare Drum".  Special divisions for "ancient" players were created as early as 1888.  While competitions were intended to be enjoyable social gatherings, participants viewed them seriously, as these results testify on September 27, 1893: "There was a kicking over the judges' decisions, but that was to be expected among so many contestants.  Burns Moore of the Morris Drum Corps, who was given 3rd prize for individual drumming, was particularly incensed, and said he would never beat a drum again."  (IARP-2)

     Individual snare contests were held frequently and a problem developed between the Bruce/Emmett and Strube methods.  The passion for winning competitions troubled modern corpsmen who heard that back-sticking and other flourishes designed to impress the judges would overtake the traditional rudimental style.  Collective efforts at preservation began on June 20, 1933 when 13 drummers attended the American Legion Convention in Chicago at the request of William F. Ludwig and formed the "Thirteen Club." Membership was limited to those who could accurately execute the "Thirteen
Essential Rudiments."  This club became the NARD in 1934 when the number of rudiments was expanded to 26.  (All but one was in Gardner Strube's 1869 book, "Drum and Fife Instructor.") (IARP-2)

     The two books differed.  B/E had the roll open-closed-open while Strube had it open to close.  B/E accented the second note of the double stroke roll. Strube had no accent. This created the need for the above mentioned meetings to standardize the method. (Compare this to judging "design" with no art standards and you get an immediate picture of objectivity versus subjectivity where direct comparisons are needed.)

     William F. Ludwig: "I will never forget that evening.  We talked and played rudiments six hours well into the morning.  But we felt that we had saved the drum rudiments by adopting a practical set of rudiments without deviation from any of the then recognized and established methods.  We retained the Bruce and Emmett roll, open and closed.  We also retained lesson #25 (R ,,RL R ,,RL) of the Strube method.  We divided the 26 rudiments into two sections by selecting what we termed at the time the thirteen essential that each applicant had to play as a test for membership into the National Association of Rudimental Drummers."  (DS)

     The military band was very popular between the Civil War and World War II.  John Philip Sousa was said to have particular interest in rudimental drummers which helped promote the art.  Sousa always requested his drummers have good rudimental technique before one could perform in his band.  As the drum began to lose its use on the battlefields to give commands, it held a strong niche for ceremonial purposes.  Sanford A. Moeller, teacher of Gene Krupa, from his book, "The Art of Snare Drumming" in 1925: "The most ridiculous idea regarding drumming is that the rudiments were made to play quicksteps on the street and the army duty.  This is exactly backwards.  The false notion was conceived through rudimental drummers always doing the work, but THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO COULD DO IT.  The difficult quicksteps and the army duty are the highest class of drumming; they bring the drum from the position of metronomic accompanist to that of solo instrument.  The drummer of the ensemble uses the rudiments to scientifically render the taps, accents and phrasings indicated.  The camp and field arrangement of the rudiments in a manner effective and pleasing
to the ear, and when accompanied by the fife or pipes is surpassing for spirit and the lessening of fatigue to the marching column.  It demands the highest degree of ability in execution and its perfection and historical associations make it classic."  (DS)

(Remember these words: "solo instrument"...."the only ones who could do it")

     Army and Navy bases started the drum and bugle corps as military oriented parade units between 1875 and 1913.  After World War I, civilian corps were started for them as a way to reminisce military life and past glories of battle.  American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts were the mainstay for such units. (I still remember my first rehearsals at Bruce Post VFW, in a senior corps in the mid 60's.)

      "Bored and unemployed GI's directed their masculine, martial energy into drum and bugle corps competitions, of which rudiments were a crucial element."  (SR)

     As a three year old, I also remember beating on two wooden chairs at a Polish wedding.  Being totally engrossed in keeping time with the band, I even forgot to grab any of my favorite chocolate cake.  They brought me up on stage to play a bunch of accessory instruments I had never seen before.  This went on all night until we went back to grandpa's.  He pulled out his old practice drum, a bushel basket with a 1" piece of wood across it.  The style was loose but consistent as he showed me paradiddles, open flams and a street beat.  Photographs of PLAV Post #1 Drum Corps on parade and in competition (+/- 1930) show 25 sopranos, 4 snares, 4 tenors, 2 cymbals, 2 mascots and a drum major.  Every member except the mascots were at least forty years old.  They marched parades in perfect step and block formations.

     American Legion contests began in 1921 for seniors won by General George A. Custer Post of Battle Creek Michigan.  This was followed by Post #701 senior from Lansing Michigan winning the first VFW contest in 1928. It was not until 1936 and 1937 respectively, that juniors were added which allowed the sons of war vets to compete and perform.  (WM)

     Twenty-five NARD selections were in a 1931 book: "Military Beats for the Drum Corps", by George Lawrence Stone; a founder of NARD and timpanist for the Boston Opera House who regularly substituted in the Boston Symphony.  This book was different in that bass, tenor drums and cymbal parts were included.  Stone was the teacher of hundreds of students including jazz great Joe Morello. (DS)

     Stone was known to start each lesson with some rudiment study.  Being a firm believer in knowing the basics, he would have the student open and close one of the standard 26 rudiments for up to thirty minutes.  He also began each lesson with remedial exercises using single handed sticking at three different stick heights.  These heights being 2", 9" and 18" off the drum head.  After this he would have the student play one of the rudiments using these different stick heights for various strokes of the rudiment.

       Also, Stone found that many drummers had difficulty in controlling secondary strokes (those found in rolls, diddles, triplets, etc.).  He believed that this flaw was a direct result of an unnatural preliminary upswing.  He helped correct this problem by developing a system to allow a more natural flow of arms and wrist action and by using different stickheights. (IARP-4)

 He discussed the pros and cons of using the metronome.  He mentioned that "for the speedbound the metronome is a must" and "this character should work on exercises to develop speed until it hurts."  Stone also used phonetics such as "Tom set-a-rat trap" for an eighth note followed by two sixteenths and two eighths.

       Also Stone was a firm believer in having complete control over ones drumsticks.  He regularly practiced and taught the rudiments using carbon paper on the drum surface while constantly checking for consistency and evenness of strokes and volume.  He'd look for "stray marks" outside the middle of the head and marks that were too light or too dark signifying unevenness and inconsistency in stick height. (IARP-4)

     During the 1930's and 40's most drum lines marched 8 or 9 snares with 4 or 5 bass drums and cymbals.  As techniques improved, the drum volumes overbalanced the smallish hornlines.  (Clean is loud.) Now the lines began to shrink to the famous: 3sn, 3tnr, 2bs, 1c, for most into the 1950's.  New York Skyliners marched a 1946 line of: 8sn, 4tnr, 2bs, 2c.

     The rudimental explosion did not come in the drum and bugle corps. It began in the standstill Fife, Bugle and Drum Corps of the 1930's.  New York and Connecticut had many such corps and would compete in two divisions, ancient (110 bpm), and modern (120 bpm).  Drum and Bugle corps were at 128-132 bpm.  Ancients had to play traditional scoring.  There were many divisions of competition:  drum & fife, drum & bugle, solo drum, solo bugle, etc.

     The Great depression aided the development of drum corps for the groups provided a way for working class youth to travel a bit and to receive some musical instruction at extremely modest cost.  Unlike the earlier fife and drum groups, which were primarily local social organizations for adults (sometimes associated with militia groups), the drum corps of the 1930's were often organized for young people (most corps firmly excluded girls from membership, especially as drummers), and many of these groups existed for competition.  Aided by the NARD's putative
"standard American drum rudiments", it began to acquire a uniformity which made judging more practical than had been the case earlier. (IARP-5)

     My instructor Jay Tuomey, came from the Yonkers City Drum Bugle and Fife Corps, instructed by Harold Pennell till 1941.  "We only used ten different rudiments and played marches which was not all that difficult. But our rivals and good friends, the Charles T. Kirk Corps used 25 rudiments just for one piece!" (JT)

     "The best drumming of that time was done by the Charles T. Kirk Corps which was superior to the M&M corps of that time.  They were prominent New York champions post WW II era.  They marched 120 bpm and had rudimental bass drumming even back then!  Their instructor, George Reppinger, was the best around and won New York state individuals many times.  Earl Sturtze was also involved there with the individuals in Kirk's snare line, a former champion from the 1930's." (JT) "Sturtze was not the greatest player.  He was a great teacher." (JT)

     "Listening to the stories of Connecticut competition drumming during the 1940's and 50's, one begins to wonder if any successful drummer was not taught by Sturtze." (IARP-5)

     The NARD selection of rudiments ignore the variety and ambiguity which flourished through the Civil War period and were based on the instruction book of Gardiner A. Strube, an amplification of its predecessor, Bruce and Emmett's "Drummer and Fifers Guide".  Sturtze based his system on the NARD/Strube rudiments and explained the movements and rhythms of these rudiments with a clarity which was never surpassed. Sturtze's greatest achievements were two: First, his systematic explanation of a style that allowed an extremely wide dynamic range combined with one of execution; second, his dedication to teaching created a pool of "Sturtze drummers" who spread and somewhat maintained his influence. (IARP-5)

     Sturtze taught that the sticks should be held firmly but not tightly, the middle finger of the right hand holding the stick "more firmly" than the ring and little fingers.  The left thumb should be straight, or nearly so, but not stiff.

     This was almost the exact same method this author was taught by Tuomey forty years later.  For speed drumming, I discovered that the fourth digit (ring finger) held the greatest strength and endurance for grip in either the traditional or matched style.  The thumb and index finger were used for finer mental control of interior diddles and flams, while the greater bone mass at the back of the hand had better rebound control.  As your muscles tired, you simply switched back and forth... IF you were in condition.

     The long roll was the foundation of the Sturtze style.  Begun with both hands at eye level, first the left hand descends and, using the combined elbow and wrist snap, the stick strikes the drumhead.  "After striking the beat raise the hand only about half as high as the eyes, turning the hand so that the stick is in a vertical position except that it points slightly forward....From this position strike the number "two" beat with the same force as the number one, and raise the hand back to eye level.  The arms must remain so relaxed as to allow the elbows to snap
outward from the body as the hands snap over and to fall back inward as the hands come back.  This does not mean that the wrists should be held rigid.  To the contrary, they must be flexible and used when snapping the hands over and snapping the beats.  The force of the blow should describe this snap.  This is designed to help the beginner develop control and clarity, and will be modified slightly depending on variations in tempo and dynamics. (IARP-5 )

     It is important to note that HERE is the mastery of these gentlemen. They modified individual bone movement, coordination abilities and hinge structure INDIVIDUALLY and always seemed to pick the correct solution, even though you were part of a "line".  It was amazing to watch them work. I still haven't figured out all their little tricks, but there are hundreds.

     In the 1970's, the effects of speed drumming caused this author to keep this approach for slow or average tempos, then reduce wrist motion and raise playing angles to condense the diddles for extreme speed in individual competition.  The difference was that my style didn't match the others since I used more forearm for accents.  (Ask Marty Hurley, my instructor at Phantom.)

     Sturtze suggests that the flam begin with a grace tap which drops from a position about two inches above the head.  This is the lowest stick position which Sturtze uses.  It is important that the stick drop from this height, not be lifted and then dropped.  (This was very important; Tuomey spent hours on it.)

     The precision and care for detail that Sturtze put into his system produced a large number of competent drummers.  The easy swing of the upper arm and the emphatic forearm snap initiated at the elbow joint are hallmarks of the style.  Sturtze produced drumlines of astonishing precision, the care of each individual's technique translating into an entire line of drummers who would use stick heights from the two inch grace tap to the full "hand at eye level" accent with virtually flawless uniformity.  It was a style devised for dynamic range, speed and uniformity, and by its own standards it was extremely successful. (IARP-5)

     "Many drummers like to play fast immediately.  This is a serious mistake.  If you have a good technique, speed will come naturally.  Don't worry about speed yet." (JT-pi)

     The Sturtze influence was impressive:
Frank Arsenault - Three time National American Legion Snare Drum  Champion, Skokie Indians

Hugh Quigley - Won 60 independent snare titles including  Connecticut 6 times, 2 American Legion Titles and 12 Northeast  titles.

Eric Perrilloux - Champion of the Gene Krupa Drum Contest from  1940's, inst. Reilly Raiders

Bobby Redican - Winner of Worlds Fair Drum Competition 1939, also a J Burns Moore student, inst. Charlie Poole.

Howard Kenneally - Another Connecticut champion.

"Frank had a very open style with high attacks.  He was a human machine.  They were both perfectionists; drumming fanatics.  Hugh was very smooth with speed.  Great execution.  I would say it was Frank number one and Hugh number two as the best I ever saw." (JT)

     "Redican was a perfection-driven guy.  He would come back from practice with his hands bleeding." (CP)

     "Redican would go into the woods on Saturday with his drum and not come out for seven hours.  This was intense practice mind you." (JT)

     This nucleus of champions was complimented by their rivals from the Sons of Liberty Fife and Drum Corps, 1950-1961 Brooklyn, New York.

     "Les Parks ran the corps and taught the drum line.  He was a Julliard grad and handled all the arrangements.  His right hand man was Bobby Thompson.  I marched in the line for many years." (JT)

Les Parks - Sons of Liberty, Hawthorne Caballeros, Garfield Cadets,  St. Vincents

Bobby Thompson - Sons of Liberty, Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights,  inst. Marty Hurley

Jay Tuomey - Sons of Liberty, New York State Champion, inst. Ken  Mazur (Jay and Hugh marched together in Landcraft F&D until 1994.)

"Les Parks brought dynamics to ancient style arrangements.  We didn't play double forte all the time.  Our competitors said this was a bad idea but within weeks or months, everyone had dynamics in their music.  Now they all did it." (JT)

     "Les would stand on table tops and look down at all the styles.  He used a big mirror as well and spent hours on the perfection of the left hand turn.  So did Sturtze.  Parks drummed much closer to the head than Sturtze because of his M&M corps experience.  He had more of an up and down style.  Bobby Thompson was a little looser in the hand.  One common element was to move the sticks in the same plane; VERY important." (JT)

     "The left wrist should turn - now you see it, now you don't.  You see it, you don't as you turn for your release then attack." (JT-pi)

     The teachings of these gentlemen were almost exactly the same with great attention to every detail (and ones you never knew could possibly exist.) Emphasis was on the individual even though they were teaching a line.  They knew that you build a line with strong individuals with command of style.

     "Physically they could do it all under the sun.  Build individuals and go." (CP)

     "Redican would give private instruction from 6 to 9.  There was never any line cleaning.  We were taught individually.  Put it together and everyone could play." (CP)

     To me, the Sturtze-trained instructors all talked the same language and thought the same way; to achieve perfection.  They taught physically (style, position and endurance), coordinately (thinking through the style and fulcrum position) and mentally (musicianship and competitive confidence).  Every minute of rehearsal had a purpose.  Nothing was left to "chance".  The first four rudiments taught were double stroke roll (most diverse and musical), single stroke roll (most basic), paradiddle (easiest lead hand switch) and flam (most complex coordination).  Dynamics were never a concern until music was passed out.

     "If you can play well at triple forte, you can play at triple piano. It is the same strength." (JT-pi & BT-pi)

     "You don't win in the summer.  You win in the winter." (JT & BT)

     Tuomey would collect everyone's sticks at the first rehearsal and place them in the bottom of his ever present briefcase.  No sticks?  What is he gonna do?... teach us forearm, elbow and hand movements, positioning them for hours.  You EARNED your sticks back.  But now came fulcrum positions (an eighth of an inch behind center of gravity for most students) and grip.

     "Wash your hands before each practice.  I will be working with them." (JT)

     Every finger had to have exact placement for an attack, release or visual.  Every pair of sticks was inspected for grain, weight, and balance with respect to your finger length and hand bone mass.  Each players' grip and movement was adjusted individually to maximize the results.  What you actually had was 20 different styles with 20 different people... but it all looked as one.  Here is their mastery.  Phenomenal.  All sticks had to move in the same arcs (even backsticking).  Left hand leads were ALWAYS practiced.  Flam and grace notes were just a flick of the wrist as low as you could play them; no forearm.  This went on and on.  Practice was stopped to fix individual technique.  All would listen intently as YOU were next to play.  Mistakes were not to be repeated.

     "Les Parks was the inventor of the 'pinky out' style with the pinky curled back away from the left hand.  His teacher at Julliard - Moe Goldenberg, a pit drummer - helped with this idea giving more control between the 2nd and 4th digits." (JT)

     1) The pinky acts as a pendulum turning the left hand down.
     2) It helps the muscles of the left hand tighten thereby making the index control finger less likely to move.
     3) It changes the center of gravity of the entire hand.

     If you look through history at drum set drummers, the best ones played index finger leads.  ALL of them.  A "flat" left hand was a sin; no control or stamina.  Thumb drummers, as we refer to them, use too few of the arms muscles to have competitive impact in rudimental drumming.

     "I kid you not.  Redican would flick cigarette ashes in the hand of a player who turned his hand flat.  He hated that.  Of course you couldn't do that now-a-days.  He didn't like "ash tray" left hands." (CP)

     I was taught the "pinky out" style by Jay for seven years with a few camp fly-ins by Bobby Thompson and a solo critique by Frank Arsenault after one of his clinics.  I never saw any of these people make a mistake - not a popped flam, not a bad backstick or a fuzzed roll.  They were flawless and meticulous.

     What do these people have to say about the current state of affairs? "The cleanliness is missing.  They lack dedication to crispness.  There is a lack of integrity.  The shows are all ephemeral; peripheral.  It's like having Nubian Maidens with Gossamer Wings on the field." (JT)

     At DCI snare individuals at Pleasure Island in 1997, I did not see much individual technical training.  Most players used a "chicken wing-hroostcheekie" style with the right elbow cocked way  out from the body and the left forearm at a weird angle away from the player.  All power comes from the "inside", close to the body.  It makes no sense. None were taught how to use their bone masses in the style with elbow motion; totally asymmetrical arm positions.  If someone tried to walk in on a rehearsal of the masters like that, they would have been in it... deep.

     Excellence has very little reward for rudimental drummers in drum and bugle corps anymore.  Demand is no longer on the sheets.  Ten points for "field percussion" is not worth the instructive effort.  At 1997 DCI individuals, few of the players could control flam rudiments; most of it was multiple bounce and the more physically extended single passages were played by only one person. You would think that after fifty years of "drum corps evolution", the opposite would be true.

     "The quality isn't there anymore.  I saw Carson in 78.  That was quality." (CP)

     Now, the Charles T. Kirk and Sons of Liberty boys all used to compete against each other... and they weren't angels.  "You had to breakdown the double stroke roll.  Two other rudiments were picked out of a hat.  You had to play one selection at either 110 or 120 bpm.  You could play anything you wanted as long as it was in tempo.  One judge looked for errors, the other kept track of how close you were to the designated tempo and would penalize inconsistency. (JT & CP)

     "The breakdown had deductions of between 1/4 and 2 full points depending on severity.  We usually did it in 1 1/2 minutes up and the same down.  You could be awarded up to one more point for "super speed" on your fastest breakdown speed.  Many times, I would score over the maximum 25 points because of it.  If the draw was the triple ratamacue or flam paradiddle-diddle, it was a killer.  Most couldn't do it well; kind of like swiss triplets hand to hand - a sign of manhood [sic].  At the Northeast championships, there was no breakdown but one 2/4 piece and another in 6/8." (CP)

     "Connecticut, New York State and Hudson Valley Field days brought out the snare drummers against each other.  You could go to other states to perform but not compete." (JT) "The Champions met at the Northeast meet. You had the five best going at it." (CP) "I would have preferred to have screens so the judge couldn't see who was competing." (JT)

     "Individuals was a dogfight!  They were all great players.  The Sons of Liberty had all the great rivals: Les Parks vs. George Reppinger and Perrilloux, Bobby Thompson vs. Hugh Quigley, Howard Kenneally and Bill Pace... just a war." (JT)

     "Once when Sturtze was a last minute replacement judge at Hudson Valley, the Sons of Liberty found out about it.  The corps boycotted and walked off the field.  It was so pigheaded!  There were 5000 people there! A mistake.  Sturtze was opinionated but fair as a judge.  He had a style and stuck to it." (JT)

     "You couldn't get into a unit unless you were a champion. Frank (Arsenault) was already a champion in the drum corps but Landcraft thought he would be a prima donna.  He was kept out of the corps by vote.  A big mistake." (JT) (Corps ref. was the Sons of Liberty.)

     "Sometimes at individuals, people would stand behind the judge and talk loudly about your mistakes while you were playing, trying to influence the judge.  They would try to win any way they could.  Win at all costs." (JT)

     "All the great drummers cordially hated each other.  They were great rivals.  Some never talked to each other.  Redican and Perrilloux would pal around together, but compete fiercely.  Hugh Quigley was very gregarious and was liked by all.  Les Parks could be aloof and arrogant at times but was a great player." (JT)

     Not by coincidence, my arch rival - Rob Carson - and I never talked to each other until I was mistakenly transferred to his extension while ordering drum heads at Remo company in 1989. (It goes with the territory.) We yapped for a half hour on the state of things, agreeing that DCI was making a mess of it and the drumming quality was dropping.

     "Redican was the 'Bill Parcels' of drum corps.  When I was eleven years old, I took a third place in a contest; good for an eleven year old. Redican told me, "Bronze?  come back when it's gold."  He never said a word to me.  Compliments were rare.  But at my bachelor party he said to me, "Charlie, you were the greatest." (CP)

     "Redican had a schedule whereby you would start with 15 minutes a day and peak at 5 hours practice a day with the day before the contest off.  I would breakdown ten rudiments then play the solo and then repeat.  He would keep track of my breakdown scores.  I finally was getting 24's and finally over 25." (CP)

     "My father would drive me to a contest in New York or somewhere. Registration was at 8 PM.  It would go to 4 AM.  We would go out and get breakfast.  The competition would go all night." (CP)

     Breakdowns were an important instruction tool to teach coordination, endurance, speed and how to adjust when tired.  Above all, it hones concentration because if your mind wanders for an instant, you probably will error.  Breakdowns force you to know yourself, especially the confidence of adjustment.  Judges don't catch everything.  You learn that "window" between what the audience perceives and what you perceive.  The better you get, the more open the window.

     "Breakdowns are useless.  I saw Frank Arsenault do a half hour of breakdowns once.  What did it prove?  What was the purpose?  It was a waste of time." (BS) Of course, rudimental drummers don't have the time to sit at the back of symphony rehearsals, read the newspapers and take naps. Orchestral percussionists don't have the training.  The concepts are beyond them.  It is not a part of their idiom.

     When they weren't playing or competing, the drummers were teaching. It is probably Frank Arsenault's move to Chicago in 1954 that had more to do with the spread of quality rudimental drumming throughout the continental United States than any other factor. (DS)

     Eric Perrilloux borrowed more patterns indigenous of the style of music being performed rather than attempting to fit rudiments into musical genres in the mid 1950's.

     "Play a one handed paradiddle.  RLRR RLRR RLRR RLRR.  Now, put the right hand on the cymbal. R,RR R,RR R,RR R,RR.  There.  Jazz coordination." (BT)

     Perilloux's Reilly Raiders drum line became the first to present a drum solo at the front of the field, use rolls on base drums, adapt the rudiments in a more musical manner and use rhythmic patterns not directly lifted from the 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments. (DS)

     "The best M&M corps up to 1950 was Reilly Raiders.  There was nothing west of Philly at that time." (JT)

     Changes occurred ever more rapidly in the 1960's.  St. Kevin's Emerald Knights began marching 4 snare and tenor instead of the usual 3 and 3.  The 1961 season brought non-traditional drums to the Hawthorne Caballeros by Les Parks who used timbales and congas.  (It passed all the rules.) In 1962, Blessed Sacrament's Bobby Thompson implemented rudimental bass.  By 1965, the best corps I ever saw, the Chicago Royal Airs, used dual pitched rudimental bass drums.  Larry McCormick (Cavies), Jerry Shellmer (Boston) and Bobby Thompson (Blessed Sac), agreed with the
concept of adding three distinct bass pitches. The '66 Royal Airs arrangement of "Watermelon Man", established the bass section with an implied melodic line that would change the entire tonality of percussion usage for decades.  Now the tenor and bass voices would receive much more attention in the arrangements and on the sheets.

     After the Cavaliers off-the-line of "Bully" in '66, there came a minute long drum solo having a simple, yet highly musical structure; expertly executed with voice trades, tonality and accent pattern counterpoint.  It is one of the best solos I have ever heard.  Without the use of a "pit", the solo bends and twists the listener to the finish with subtle dynamics, note base changes and segment features.  Play it today and watch the fans buy tickets.  It is timeless; it has risk - a great piece of art.

     A car loaded with teenagers went to see the VFW prelims in August of 1968 on Belle Isle, in the middle of the Detroit River.  This was the year percussion exploded.  It was the greatest year of change I ever saw. Everyone embraced it.

     This was the year of the double tenor, triple bass (horizontal with one head each for a timp effect) and marching machine timpani.  Even with all these new sounds, voices and originality, the percussion sections were comparable having similar rudimental difficulties, low tacet times and arrangement complexities.  Everyone still had a trade-off involving execution (tick system), and exposure.  These changes not only enhanced the presentations, but offered many more drummers a chance to compete in the new sections.  I do not remember these percussion changes receiving
any bad press in the drum corps newspapers or magazines at that time.

     This all changed in 1969.  Two small incidents helped form the "combine" - the precursor to DCI's formation.  At inspection at VFW prelims in Philly, two sets of judges forgot to meet at the center of each unit.  One set had a lower tolerance and was writing up a storm.  Add to this, a heat wave of 100+ degrees had hit the city with many members passing out on the blacktop parking lot inspection area.  After a fifth Cavalier horn player went face first into the ground, the hubbub really started.  Inspection scores were thrown out.

     Also, the Boston Crusaders featured a bell player for their Jerry Shellmer written show.  The arrangement of Dave Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4 was a phenomenal piece; difficult and musical with many "cold attacks" and voice trades.  Without the bells at VFW finals, the solos tonality was actually achieved with horizontal double bass drums tuned to A and E, the tonic and dominant of the "D" bugle key.  There were other changes occurring though...

     "Several instructors found that due to increasing difficulty of their repertoire and the faster marching cadence, execution had become more difficult in the open style manner.  Therefore, various styles of drumming began to appear throughout the East for example, the Pennsylvania versus New Jersey style.  The open style had still prevailed in the Pennsylvania area, whereas the New Jersey area stressed drumming closer to the drum, utilizing more wrist control, all around uniformity of hand position and arm movement.  The big powerful sound had gone, but a more precise and well executed sound had taken its place, as proven by the drum scores the sections in New Jersey were achieving." (JF)

     I disagree here since this, to me, is the beginning of sacrificing individual technique for more players and difficulty.  It is not true you have to sacrifice power for style.  You just have to know how to teach it. Here is the thinking that started the "mass production factory technique" lines that played very low to the head without much semblance of what I would term "style".  Too much movement had been eliminated. In the end, the style faults would still be there if not fixed.  There is no easy way to teach rudimental drumming.

     "The real problem is the number of years it takes to develop a rudimental drummer at a very, very high level.  Especially when you are dealing with a large line of 8 or 10 players. It's very difficult to spend many years developing all the players in the same way and in the same style, keeping them together, and then putting them on the field as an important component to an overall show.  I think that this is probably the greatest difficulty that instructors run into; it's not that they don't want to show rudimental drumming at its best." (DS-IARP)

     To give you an idea of "what the audience knew"... At American Nationals in Northbrook, Illinois, the Troopers met disaster.  Their trademark company front missed by 7 yards going off the field.  The crowd groaned and shuffled their feet.  That's it for Troop.  The pick points knew enough to slow the outer two segments and speed the inner one up. When three perfectly straight lines met at the ten yard line to form one, the crowd went nuts; a field wide string of perfection.  You couldn't hear the fanfare music. Couldn't see either; tumultuous standing ovation.

     At 1969 prelims, Audabon Bon Bons (all girl) was followed by somebody big; I think Blessed Sac.  Out of the stadium on the back track marched Audabon - a large corps - with no DM or cadence in perfect unison (even with another corps on the field.) People stood and clapped - not for Sac - for Audabon!  You could see their big white boots for miles.  The crowd knew it was a great display of marching.

     "Marching was our strongest asset.  That year was the first national title we ever won.  I still have that trophy in my family room.  '69 was my second year as DM.  I often look back at tapes of the corps and am amazed myself how good our marching was." (CP - 1969 Audabon drum major.)

     All great art is complex in the artist's mind; simple to those who witness it.  What in today's corps presentations is THAT understandable? This is an important marketing point.  The crowd used to know the rules. They understood a "tick" and the penalty of dropped equipment.

     "What is most important in judging figure skating?" (This author)

     "Hit your triples or you're out." (TE & BB 1994 US Championships, Detroit)

     Boitano missed a double in prelims and was mathematically eliminated. The simplicity of standing or falling is how they market their art. Simple drama.  I can't skate a lick, yet know what a flying camel, sitz spin, triple axle, a toe loop or flip are.  They rest their muscles during spins.  Their practices are gruelling. Simple - here is the move.  Did they execute it?  Yes or no? Simple - here is the sticking and rudiments. Did they execute it? Yes or no? This ANTICIPATION has been totally lost in today's drum corps.

     "My approach to composing a percussion feature was to take a simple melody and present it in a simple way." (DS-IARP)   Simple. Most of the solos of that time period followed this successful principle of presentation. The "numbers explosion" really began in the 1970-71 seasons.  LaSalle Cadets marched a 6 snare, 5 tenor line that I saw at Toronto Shriners International.  St. Joe's and most everyone else had 3 or 4.  This was followed in '71 by Blue Rock with a well tuned 8 snares.  I say well tuned because tuning out weaker players must have been a priority with gut taping and other tricks. (At retreat you just go look at their drums.) Blue Rock's solos were outstanding; full of imagination and difficulty without any keyboards; very tight sound.  Again, the playing style was low, but clean is loud.

     Theoretically, instruction time was supposed to be reduced with less individual movement.  This idea reached its crest in the mid 1970's lines of Tom Float's Oakland Crusaders which had very restricted arm motion.  I know because I attended two Oakland camps in the winter of 1975.  Float's methods went against everything I had ever been taught about style and control.  Oakland ranked very high in drum placements those years and even won prelims the year the corps failed to make finals.  To me, it was not worth the loss of dynamics, power and speed.  You would never play that
way on a drum set.  Keep in mind that Float's Blue Devil lines of the mid- 1980's had higher playing heights, probably a reaction to criticism of his lines playing unmusically and without dynamics when the "PA" sheet was in use.  He had much success again in that time period. (1983-1986)

     The interpretation of interior diddles (between accents) was much more condensed which he called "correct interpretation".  It gave a distinctive, tight sound to diddles and short rolls.  Most of the coordination was "mass factory production" technique using sheets of "check patterns" where every mathematical permutation of a simple rudiment was altered by flams, rests, diddles or rolls.  I left for the Phantom Regiment camps and the tutelage of Marty Hurley, trained by Bobby Thompson, my instructor's friend with a similar style from the east coast.

       The low playing style of the 1971 Blue Rock, containing less individual risk and molding, quickly moved west to the California corps. Now, the marriage of new musical knowledge and superior traditional technique would produce almost a decade of the best drum lines that have ever existed in marching percussion, ending with the early 1980's Bridgemen line and the mid 80's Blue Devils.  After these last examples, visual design and preferential adult scoring did not reward such achievements.  No longer would there be a reason to produce such quality.

     "Bobby's style (Bobby Thompson) was rudimental, more Fife and Drum style.  With Fred (Fred Sanford), the music dictated the style and approach, which was very varied.  With Bobby, the rudiments dictated the music.  I think the main difference between the two comes down to instrumentation.  I think Bobby would have had a harder time adapting than Fred.  The difference there being formal music training.  At that time, drum corps was not run by professionals, or maybe not dominated by them. As you know, it was more grass roots during Bobby's time." (TB)

     "I think I had the best of both worlds because I experienced both; came from grass roots.  But then when I moved to SCV, I was introduced to the musical aspect of marching percussion.  I am not saying the Golden Knights, under Bobby, could not have been musical.  We had very talented people as well; guys who could read; guys who went to Julliard, etc.  As you know, we had the Hurley brothers and Jim Mallen (former instructor and DCI judge), and lots of others.  The approach to technique was similar. As with any good line you had to pay attention to detail.  Both styles did
that effectively.  Looking back, I can tell you that both styles left nothing to chance, and that's why they were so successful." (TB)

     "Bobby's style involved lots of arm, wrist and elbow movement, while with Fred it was low and flow (which made for less chance of error).  Fred was more concerned with the end result of the music, not necessarily technique.  (That was left to Bob Kalkofen - the man!).  Bobby was always in there teaching rudiments and technique. Both were hands on but in different ways. I think most of the differences were a sign of the times than anything else.  With Bobby, we practiced on wood pad and tables.  At SCV, we always were on the drums.  With Bobby, a few guys taught the music
by rote.  Most of the guys could read at SCV. I was the only one who couldn't but I could play the music before everyone else.  In my opinion, rote is as good a way to learn as any.  The one drawback, and it is a big one, is someone has to be there to play it for you.  Without that, you'd never learn." (TB)

     "At SCV, we relied on check patterns, metronomes, etc.  With Bobby, if you were in step and your stick height was correct, the attacks would be on time and correct.  At SCV, we relied on timing to be together.  With Bobby, it was more technique.  If we all knew where the downbeat was and our stick heights were correct, the attacks, releases, rolls, etc., would all be together.  At SCV, it was more timing throughout the sections; with Bobby, more unison attacks.  At SCV, it was isolated attacks, which could come from anywhere, depending on the music." (TB)

     "What's strange to me is that both styles had unbelievable chops. Both could play all day because they were both so into what they were doing; LOVED what they were doing.  The joy of drumming!" (TB)

     In the early and mid 1970's, my main individual competition came from the Santa Clara Vanguard.  It seemed every year, the same names would pop up on the score board.  Tom Brown, Rob Carson, Steve Chorazy, Paul Seibert and later from the Blue Devils, Scott Johnson.  One of the members from the 1975 SCV snare line provides some insight:

       "I was trained by Bobby Thompson when I marched in the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights in the late 60's and early 70's. Then I went west when they disbanded in '72.  I was fortunate to have been under the tutelage of Bobby and Fred Sanford, two of the finest ever in my opinion." (TB)

       "There were some vibes coming from both of them (Rob and Steve), but since neither was the lead snare, they had to check their egos.  Steve was a mellow guy.  I think Rob had more natural ability but since Steve was a music major, he worked very hard at his craft.  Steve made less mistakes in the show - better line guy and better individual since he won over Rob twice.  Rob always wanted to rush things.  Paul Seibert was lead snare, and none could have done a better job than he.  One of the nicest guys you ever want to meet.  Plus, Steve was new to SCV and everything was
pretty much in place before he got there.  I mean, they hadn't lost drums in two years before he arrived.  We all worked well together to make what some consider the finest snare line ever; certainly the finest snare line I ever marched.  That's how I saw it." (TB)

     "Steve started out in the fall (on my side), but our side of the line was so strong they moved him (Steve) to the other side next to Robbie.  My side was the fun side.  Their side was always uptight.  Must have been those two; didn't know how to loosen up. Yeah, all the ticks we had came from that side." (TB)

     "You know, Ken, the west coast guys seemed to be using more forearm for speed; less wrist." (MP)

     True.  The early 1970's is where speed drumming began to outscore coordination difficulty in the individual snare contests. Rudiments would fly by the judges so fast, they couldn't pick them all out.  Most of us played a section slow to make sure the judges understood the difficulty, then sped the hell out of it for demand points.  There was some unbelievable demand to contend with. Everyone had their pet coordinations they felt comfortable with under pressure.  Dangerous stick flips and backstickings were everywhere.  As in the 1950's, it was a dogfight.  The
challenge caused me to begin writing strategically with planned rest spots and breathing.  (To inhale is to expand your chest cavity, pushing your arms out more, away from center of gravity and balance.  Speed and power comes from having your arms close to the body.)

     By the early 1970's, five segment writing was common: snare, multiple tenors, tuned bass, timpani and cymbals.  Some, like Santa Clara, cut their sticks down from the 17 1/2 inch length to 16 or so.  This was to allow closer marching and resulted in better hearing.  While the styles were not uniform, the tacet times ranged from 2:40 to 3:40 per show in the upper battery during a 13 minute performance.  That's about 10 minutes of playing.  Today's corps spend more than 3 minutes holding props or laying their equipment on the field.  You can't market what is not there.  With 5 or 6 minutes upper battery tacet now common, that leaves 5 or 6 minutes of shorter 11 minute shows; half the performance time for the entertainment dollar.

     With the legalization of all hand held percussion instruments in 1973 and two keyboards in 1974 (later four), motive and accent patterns now meshed.  Actual and implied melodic lines were used to compliment each other in arrangements.  A prime example of this would be the 1975 "Duelling Banjos" drum solo by the Madison Scouts with two excellent board soloists carrying the melody.  The 1978 season permitted unlimited mallet instruments.

     It is important to note that the upper battery (snares and tenors) still had a prominent sound presence (balance) in the 1970's.  Even with a higher playing style and up to 11 snares, corps usually used scoops underneath the drums to project better to the "box".  General effect comments were more concerned with "I can't hear you" or "I can't read it" instead of today's "You're too loud" or "You're too rudimental."  Put simply, percussion twenty years ago could play louder without comparisons to "orchestral" indoor acoustical balance while marching on an outdoor football field.

     Many variations of Scottish Pipe Band drumming entered the snare lines of the early and mid 1970's.  The Racine Kilties and 27th Lancers had used some variations to support their themes, but now many copied the Alex Duthart rhythms for all idioms. He was a pipe band drummer who died drumming in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the late 1980's.  A blacksmith by trade, he travelled extensively because of his drumming ability.  Duthart attributes his innovations to being able to play the drum set. (MP)

     "I met Alex twice in Scotland in 1970 (on my honeymoon) and 1971. Went right to his house, unannounced and knocked on the door.  Talked for hours." (MP)

     "I think Alex was responsible for the above and below line notation in pipe band drumming.  He got that from the Basle drummers.  This method was developed in 1920 by Fritz Burger.  I have several of his books. Otherwise, there are no similarities between Swiss Basle drumming and Scottish Pipe Band drumming." (MP)

     "NO WAY! We ain't playin' no band buzz roll crap!" (Toledo Glassmen drummers upon seeing Petty's arrangement for the first time with buzzed variations in it based on Duthart's work.) Charging off-the-line at 160 bpm to a mix of rudiments and Scottish buzz variations... well, Mark... we all quickly changed our minds. I incorporated many of these variations into my individual solos. (Flam buzzed drags and ratamacues; buzzed grace note diddles, etc.) It was a new difficulty and texture except none of the judges really knew what the hell I was playing.  Sometimes on the field the judges would do a double take.  We were a strong line so most waited for critique to question it.  Lucky for us.

     Now, Mr. Petty was known when I was a teenager as a "slasher." I swear the sheet was half black by the end of concert.  He was a tough judge with a tick sheet.  (In those days, I think you could score a negative, or get wiped to just the exposure score.) Anyway, half our corps quit a week before the last show of the season.  We had 20 horns, a snare, a double bass, a bass and a cymbal.  Everyone wanted to "try out" a new instrument, but I knew the rules... and our competition.  No way.  We are gonna win this thing.  Petty and I met face to face on the starting line.
I played the hardest stuff I could think of to get an exposure score. Mark didn't bite.  We got the egg in exposure: "O".  But he slashed.  I guessed right.

     "I remember judging you when you were the only snare in Diplomats and couldn't believe what you were playing. Unfortunately, Roger (Roger Leis an All American Assoc. Judge) had taught me that if there was only one snare drum, I should tick anything that moved. So, I did!" (MP)

     That's OK.  I knew Petty's tolerance.  We won drums that night.

     Right after DCI's formation, the arrangers started taking more of the score sheets for themselves.  This is not totally a bad event since the 10 points for VFW GE was too small and judged by 1 or 2 judges that had little percussion background.  The 10 Perc/10 Brass/10 Marching scoring of early DCI still left 70 points for the performers.  The weight was still theirs.  As I see it, the advent of MBA (Marching Bands of America) and the creation of new band circuits caused the drum corps problems.  Corps arrangers now started charging more for their services, trying to use corps as the place to establish credentials.  More credentials meant more money.  The band business was exploding.  Soon, the arrangements were not enough.  You had to
have a show "designed" by the local or national gurus.  To keep control of the cash flows, those who judged simply awarded "designed" shows more points reducing the performer to an "interpreter" or "game piece"; no longer the focus of the scoring.

     The critiques started changing in the late 1970's.  Much more clinic and critique time was devoted to "interpretation" handed down by the reigning DCI caption heads.  Now there were very wordy and vague definitions devoted to "defining" the "coordination of elements" and "sub-caption bleed."  These items had nothing to do with performers - everything to do with raising design fees.  They still spouted how the "activity" was for the "kids", yet you could see how the emphasis was on the adults' abilities... or lack of them. There was much infighting and the scoring slowly started bending.  Huge fights erupted over "idiomatic integrity"; if an arrangement "fit the idiom". This is how drum corps' "inferiority complex" developed.  "Hey, your kids don't sound like the original album!  What's your problem?  That's not the idiom!"  So much for originality, too.

     As the corps started folding in the early 1980's, more attention was focused on marching band.  This was the cash cow - taxpayer money.  Unlike privately funded drum corps, the high schools had available practice facilities, roofs over their heads, instruments, uniforms and handy booster clubs to raise money (and carry those new heavy props to the field).  The first "tickless" experiment was DCI South in 1983.  It was not long before the tick system was called "destructive and horrible".  "We don't tear down children, we like to build them up!  The tick system is outdated."  The more subjective the score sheets became, the more control the designers and arrangers had over the scores. The parents still clapped for their kid on the field thinking it was such a wholesome activity.

     The objectivity of the tick sheet now changed to the level of marching band contests.  MBA, then later BOA, never had a percussion sheet.  They used a 5 point sub-caption on the music sheet and would do a few samples then declare a score.  You were lucky to get a rudimental evaluation because most "music" judges didn't know a Swiss Army from a Triplet.  In Michigan, due to a strong drum corps judging tradition, the band circuit established a 10 point percussion caption judged by mostly rudimentalists in the late 1970's. (Sheets written and passed by Bill Rice and Mark Petty.)  It had 5 points execution and 5 GE and was later switched to a 4 execution - 3 musicianship - 3 GE format which still gave the school student 70 of the 100 points.  We always judged from the box and never used ticks, but had a very close tolerance established among the local judges.  The instructors and students knew what to expect.  You had better play and play well.

"What did you give us?"
"I didn't give you anything.  You earned what you got."
"Mr. Petty says it was a 78."
"How the hell would HE know?  Your sheets haven't even been tabulated yet.
Hey, this is break.  I've got to get a hot dog.  Cold out tonight, huh?  Talk to me after."
"He says he knows how you judge."
(This author to one of Mark Petty's Royal Oak Dondero percussion students in the 1980's at a show I judged.  The score was indeed a 78.)

     As the designers took over, the tolerance we established over 10 years began to vanish.  Drum lines that scored a 65 that couldn't play well, were getting 90 and jumping from 8th to 1st with outstate design judges.  The fees paid to these design staffs were enormous.  No score equals no more money. What to do?  You start to eliminate the judges that judge students.  Scores began flip-flopping all over the place.  The kids began saying it in both the corps and bands: "We don't play for the judges anymore.  We play for ourselves.  It's all screwed up."  (Madison and Velvet Knight drummers before the  Port Huron show in Michigan in 1995.)

     Don't for a minute think that high school kids don't have the same opinion.

     By vote, the Michigan band circuit recently changed the weight to a 3 - 3 - 4 GE heavy format to favor the designers.  This change was proposed by one of our own, a percussion instructor from a "design" band; strange because he always had a good line. (But you can't present students when they are forever at the back of the field or on the 5 yard line sacrificed for the "drill writer".)  It is suggested that the Michigan percussion sheet is going to be voted out.  That circuit had a "trial" use of BOA rules at the Atwood contest, one of their larger shows this year. Another one bites the dust.

     In my opinion, the best percussion evaluation method we ever had in corps was the intelligent trade-off between two execution judges and one analysis judge responsible for musicianship and difficulty.  This is why the Michigan band percussion judges used a 4 ex / 3 musicianship / 3 GE sheet mix.  We knew it worked.  It defined and focused each judges responsibility. One judge could now put all their time into discerning the demands and musical displays, while the other two rotated positions on the field to sample execution wares.  However, this system only works with well trained adjudicators with known tolerance and sampling.

     Problems developed in the late 1970's with many inexperienced, orchestrally trained judges being put on the slates by DCI.  People without rudimental tolerance or abilities were popping up at the better shows.  We were expected to keep our mouths shut and train them.  As instructors, we stopped playing those tapes for our students. They were no longer relevant to the outdoor rudimental art.  The orchestral people had a heck of a time knowing the sound of a "tick" let alone understand the difficulty of what was being performed.  Scores started jumping around.  Those that created the most disasters were flipped to the PA or GE sheets.  Here is where the orchestral attack on "balance" began.  With more shows and buzz words, they grew more bold.

     Slowly, year by year, the "rudimental tolerance" for "OUTDOOR MARCHING" percussion became "INDOOR CONCERT HALL".  Tacet times began going up because the orchestral influence demanded more keyboard projection.  Keyboards don't project outdoors.  Upper register bells and xylophone can cut through, but when the brass faces the stands, it's over.  The suggestions at critiques were to simply take the volume or parts away from the battery; maybe have the whole corps tone it down so that the pit instruments could be heard. Everyone forgot this is drum corps, not orchestra.  Tapes started to focus on tertiary things: "triangle dampening", "chime muffling", "cymbal muffling" and no one ever liked your "mallet selection".  By now, some of the judges didn't even know what a ratamacue or swiss sextuplet was... but they played a mean triangle and would go as far as to say that one triangle part was the equal of full battery unison rudimental parts in demand.  (Many "design" bands used this argument after I dumped them for not playing their instruments and competing.)

     If you wanted to "compete", you quickly found out who was on next week's panels and rigged your show to the tastes of that particular slate.  When this process became ridiculous, the drum instructors gave it up because the tolerances were shot and the judges were too wide in philosophy to do their jobs on a consistent basis.  The "National Linear" scale that was used as a guide to set tolerance - 100 for the best you had ever seen - ceased to exist.  Scores now started to become inflated.

     "When the tick system was eliminated, we saw the biggest increase of judges who never marched or had anything to do with the activity." (RB)

     Rudimentalists always judged the battery primary and pit tertiary. Orchestral imports felt much more comfortable at the front of the field.  The epithets started coming with: "You're too rudimental", "Why not try an orchestral loose style here?", then the killer, "musical tacets" and "silence is demanding".  Tell a figure skater to sit down on the ice and see what happens.  In drum corps, they raised your score.

     To ask 20 or 30 battery percussion to perform outdoors with indoor orchestral volume and projection is ludicrous.  It defeats the entire purpose of MARCHING percussion.  Orchestral percussion can't match rudimental projection or competitive uniformity.  You don't see many double flam triplets in an orchestra hall.  That salesmanship is for we rudimentalists. Well, it used to be.

     The solution you all know.  Let's shove "those loud percussionists" to the back of the field where they belong... like in orchestra.  Thinner orchestra parts don't sell outdoors.  It's boring.  Tacets are boring.  You don't need to guess why corps are so boring.  As goes rudimental drumming, goes the activity.  We are its pulse.  No pulse?  No product.  Try marching a silent parade and see the crowd reaction. The result of this was for DCI and many band circuits to cancel critiques because they became so heated. With THIS type of false environment, it is no wonder.  Many a good instructor simply quit the activity.

     "Drum corps made a big mistake when they tried to compete with orchestras." (JP)

     My sixth grade music teacher, Mr. Mckenna, opened my eyes to orchestral thinking: "Drummers should be seen and never heard.  Why don't you take up something like trumpet?  You seem like a bright young lad.  Drummers aren't musicians."  At the time, I was marching snare in a Senior corps.

     We joined corps to learn what the public schools could not teach.  A band director with an eleven week percussion course was not percussively interesting.  As teenagers visiting college "band day" festivities, we would hot dog over to the college lines and ask them to show us something... then cream them.  They were 10 to 15 years behind us, the high school programs even more dinosaur.  Most of us decided to go elsewhere for education than public institutions.

     I was taught on drum set by John Wallace who ran the 28 piece "Johnny Wallace Big Band" with some of the best musicians in Detroit at the helm. He didn't have my "chops", but taught chart reading, double bass drum set technique, jazz interp and served as his own clearing house for his students. Rudimental drumming and drum set went together for many of the players at that time because the band circuits didn't exist yet.  College lines of that time were just starting to improve and be stocked with rudimentally trained musicians.

     The technical mastery we had over the college lines and set drummers began to vanish in the mid 1980's.  You can't play interesting material shoved to the back of the field running at 200 bpm with 25 lbs of equipment on.  The college lines have carried the torch for rudimental drumming since the demise of the corps score sheets.  The knowledge is being handed down, class by class, year by year.  Many have a good level of performance that is superior to current drum corps execution and demand. Plus, visual designers don't interfere with their music because 250 people fill up a football field and the shows tend to change weekly, reducing the number of sets.  Colleges have their own pool of arrangers and writers, so they were never cannibalized for profit.  Creativity is handled mostly within the music departments.

       I know the Michigan State percussion line used to go around the stadium at football games and play long difficult solos with fancy backstickings, flips, and all kinds of stuff to standing ovations.  My students were in that line along with many from DCI finalist corps.  All they did was stand and play great stuff.  (Interesting concept.)

       That is what rudimental drummers had the training to do... stand front and center with audience anticipation and deliver; the focus of musical SKILL... a skill not observed in any other venue - unique and original.

     "The concept of execution is based on uniformity.  This concept is the single most important element that makes drum and bugle corps not only entertaining and competitive, but unique."  (WM)

And marketable.

     "Today's scoring is formless, lacking definition, infinitely malleable. Where there is no definition, there can be no objective judgement of quality. And quality, presumably, is what we pursue in our activity." (GG)

     "Drum corps used to resemble baseball or auto racing: clearly defined goals (scoring the most points or crossing the finish line first), and clear penalties for errors (the number under the "E" column after every inning, or the rubber and paint-smeared concrete wall in the turns.)  The winner was clear.  There was beauty and purity in attaining victory.  Now drum corps resembles the dreaded modern dance: no rules, just "interpretations".  You can thank the elimination of the tick system for that.  The state of the activity - dreadful - can be blamed on its inability to reconcile its essence - competition - with the face it puts on for the public - one that smiles blankly and denies that 10 guys executing a heavy flam and drag laden passage is any more difficult than 6 guys buzzing for a few counts and flitting off on their tiptoes to follow the guard in some demented "interpretation". (GG)

     As "designers" and "arrangers" fought over control of the sheets, they realized more money could be made in collaboration.  No sense in spilling hot coffee on the other guy if he has some to spill on you.  The problem was that the music people had real credentials.  They could pick up an instrument and perform or get the staff paper and arrange.  The visual designers had no formal training what-so-ever, but stole the term "artists."  They are incapable of picking up tools of the craft and doing a 3-D perspective or free hand sketch with fore-shortening.  Their visual rules manuals are filled with references to oil paintings, architecture, sculpting... you name it. Read them.  Few, if any, of these "artists" can design in these mediums.  So WHAT is the purpose of it being there?  Control of those who won't take the time to question their motives.  And money.  Children are the most impressionable.  The perfect targets.

     It is no accident that the ratio of GE to percussion scoring is now 4 to 1 (40/10).  It was 1 to 3 in the VFW days; 3 to 2 at DCI's formation. Once there were three field percussion judges and one in the box.  Now there is one on the field who is out of position for half the exposures.  There is no GE representation.  If you believe so, ask those GE judges to pick up some sticks and show their rudimental knowledge.  It won't take you long... or them.

"The problem is the visual caption. They got control of the sheets." (MM)
"Demand isn't on the sheets anymore." (MM)
"The battery does very little dynamics.  The pit handles that up front." (CP & MM)
"The problem is the kids can't hear anymore." (MM)

     True.  We used to march in a "line" close together so we could hear each other to execute difficult passages.  You can't run around and execute interesting music at double and triple interval.  The result is what you see today - 16th notes and buzz rolls; taceted prop holding, or tape comments like "symphonies don't play flam drags!"  To stop such criticisms, the drum lines went silent.  You can't criticize empty space.  Silence is demanding.

     "The performers can perform the heck out of a show, and without substantive design, they can't win."  (GC)

     Why not?  Who is this activity for?

     Such spin doctoring of corps has its roots in Winter Guard International. (WGI)  In the late 1970's, the guards of WGI were heavily equipment oriented.  Phantom, Schaumburg, Holly Hawks and later the Cavaliers, were very good.  I watched them rehearse.  It was some phenomenal work.  Tough people.  The 10th place finish of the Seattle Imperials guard in 1979 - a "ballet" guard - caught my attention.  I didn't think they were very good.  Sloppy.  Here was the beginning of the destruction of competitive drum and bugle corps; the judges on that panel.  Those who taught guards, taught corps.  Let's do it there too!  Competitions now turned into experiments.

     "It has been my experience that self-proclaimed experts tend to develop their their own language.  This summer while sitting at the Citrus Bowl, I had the opportunity to speak with numerous "experts".  Damn, didn't they sound impressive with their little own terminology.  I heard stuff that I'msure would impress the casual fan, but when I asked them exactly where this expertise came from, not one could answer me.  As a matter of fact, not oneof them had ever friggin marched!  One stated to me his involvement began three years ago and the only thing on his resume that was even remotelyrelated to D&B was that he's directed a lot of Community Theatre. Community Theatre?  Give me a break!  Bear in mind, this guy is listed as a staff member of a top six corps.  When I proceeded to explain to him about real drum corps,  I immediately received that "you poor ignorant son of a bitch" look.  This guy wouldn't know a flam from a drag, but felt secure enough to tell me about drum corps." (MI)

     The "ballet-interpretive dance" replacement of difficult-to-execute equipment work in corps was an outgrowth of WGI design experimentation on youth.  Even more of the guard sheet went for "design' scoring.  Soon, to one-up each other, props and other craziness would consume the main focus. The guards of the mid-1980's were becoming extremely sloppy.  I noticed many of the units simply throw equipment teaching out.  Everyone seemed to want something for nothing.  (Self esteem for non-achievement.)  It didn't resemble a "guard" competition anymore, but a conglomeration of bad ballet troupes.  Mixing the strict military discipline of corps and bad ballet was oil and water.  You don't storm the beaches of Normandy dressed in tutus. The two only mixed well for brief moments, yet the judges who had financial interests in the designs made sure to take care of their own, perpetuating more disasters upon the drum corps and indoor percussion.

     "Our winterguard [South Cobb Legacy] used platforms for their show. The first two shows, the platform covered more than half the gym floor. After experiencing injuries and falls, they cut it off to about only three pieces the size of walk-in closets for the members to jump off of, etc.  They were at least 4 to 5 feet off the ground.  Oh yeah, one of them had a ramp.  No rails or protection.  Poorly built.  It took people to fall and slip to realize, 'Oh, we better not use this.'  It's STUPID.  It doesn't have anything to do with music education.  They tried to get us [indoor drumline] to use platforms in our show.  HELL NO.  No way was I going to hop on top of one of those things with a 20-30 pound bass drum/snare on." (JL)

     The Flushing High School Band of Michigan recently used 14 foot high platforms to place guard members in some weird, foolish attempt to get "perspective" or "3-D" in their "design".  The props had no rails, shoddy, make-shift stairs and the guard wore long gowns at the time. It was explained to me that they had to "monkey climb" them by grabbing the pipes that held it together.  Said their drum instructor, "No way in hell MY kid is ever going up on one of those things!" (DW)

     Actually, history does provide a few military uses of ballet in battle...

     "Soldiers, you are ordered to go forward and capture a battery; pirouette, march.  Forward men; pirouette carefully."  The boys "pirouetted" as best they could.  It may have been a new command, and not laid down in Hardee's or Scott's tactics; but Lee was speaking plain English, and we understood his meaning perfectly, and even at this late date, I have no doubt that every soldier that heard the command thought it a legal and technical term used by military graduates to go forward and capture a battery. (SW)

     As art buzz words started to pile up at critiques in both corps and band, there was a push to correlate "music with ballet."  When I attended visual caption meetings to find out just what was actually going on, it became obvious they were in way over their heads.  Every little movement was supposed to have a musical correlation.  This is comical because of many items: the ballet is not of a good quality or uniform so it doesn't relate in sync; bad art is always overly complex; you can't see the correlations anyway so far from the field. ("Binocular dancing" coined by  Stuart Rice.); Few of these people could fit into a tutu.  It was the blind leading the blind into absurdity.

     There was also a severe change in the taped commentary that was expected of you in the late 1980's.  DCI clinicians became very concerned with "hurting the students feelings".  There was a constant push to "do away" with that "terrible tick mentality".  Locally, we were told to give more "positive" comments even if the unit was bad and not to use the lower box in scoring.  We were told to stop criticizing the arrangers and designers on the tapes so the kids couldn't hear it.  All such comments now had to go on the end of the tape with a warning to the director, or saved for critique even though the scores were now "theme" dependent... and the kids didn't create the theme.  Scores went up.  Quality went down.  In drum corps, 98's were given out.  In individual competition, Steve Campbell of the Blue Devils scored a perfect 100 at snare individuals.  "Yeah, well I just wish I could have played back when you guys played, Maz." (SC)  Brothers Steve and Dave Campbell marched Devils after being in their father's corps, the Buccaneers, from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, for many years.  They too, agreed that the quality was slipping but had a chance to play in one of the last good drum lines.

     In the late 80's judge's sheets favored the "total show package". The focus of the scoring switched from the performers to the design, from the members to the staff. The kids were now pawns in a game played by immature adults.  Those responsible for this debacle now grew very bold issuing statements filled with impunity.

"Who would go to Paris and tick the Mona Lisa?" (DA)
"No amount of practice or performance will elevate the design." (GC)
"One can never be totally objective.  The nature of design and judging and viewing is all subjective."  (GC)

     Objectivity requires comparison and intelligent use of a criteria. Criteria defines the product.  Destroying the criteria and comparisons results in a stale product and a mutual admiration society where nobody knows WHAT is going on.  Hence, the performers mistrust of judges.  How many times have you heard, "We play for the audience, screw the judges."  This is capitulation.

     "At the conclusion of the DCI meeting, written on the board in capital letters were two words: "THE KIDS!"  Without a doubt then, the emphasis on the kids should be what drives and motivates every decision made and every action taken." (BD)

     I have my doubts:
"The intent of the Visual Ensemble sheet is to reward designers and performers, but I feel it is too weighted toward the performer." (GC)
"The more global picture is to have the creators of the activity get together and maybe create together." (DG)
"The performers can perform the heck out of a show and without substantive design, they can't win." (GC)

     "I can guarantee you that I never had an instructor even attempt to teach me anything about art design.  I was taught performance, which a great number of drum corps instructors do have some expertise in."  (Greg S. Newell in correspondence.)

     Then what is Greg Cesario talking about?  This is what I have been trying to tell everyone.  The marchers are not aware how they are being used as game pieces in an adult design contest.  If they aren't teaching art and design, what is it doing on the sheets?  Who put it there?  For what reasons? The word in Webster's for this is "hypocrisy".  Drum corps and the growth of rudimental drumming can't be successful - or even exist - along side such severe dichotomies.  So the drums went silent.

     "I'm twenty years old and I've wanted to march corps for several years and with one summer left I don't think I will because every line that I've gone to, drum corps or college, has an instructor who either hasn't got a clue about rudimental drumming or teaches a limiting senseless technique that doesn't utilize a player's strength and will never allow anyone who practices beyond a certain level.  They see me play faster with more power and control than anyone they've got in their line and tell me I'm doing it all wrong, talking about bouncing and playing loose with very little control.  I suppose that the most I can do is just keep advancing as a player and teaching others what I know.  Until something drastic changes, drum corps and the overall state of rudimental drumming will never be what they once were." (JTh)

     "No, by all means, go ahead and open up a new pathway in MUSIC.  Fill brass instruments with various colors of paint, have them stand on a canvas let them perform a show for artists who work with oil and brush - open up a new pathway in FINE ART.  Have them carry tents around the field of various sizes for an audience of architects and open up a whole new pathway to fluid ARCHITECTURE.  Have them do a show 5,000 feet up in the air and open up a new pathway to SKYDIVING." (SR)

     "There is a fine line between respecting and using an art, and apparently, you have not yet learned the difference."  (SR)

     "Oh, by the way, you people who are so gah-gah about modern drum corps remind me of a group of art connoisseurs standing around a weird abstract painting, all trying to convince each other how much you appreciate the "art" value and "hidden meaning". (BSm)

     "They [the audience] have a right to ask that corps not have drummers with "shaved heads" performing interpretive dance."  (BY)

     "The summer of 1988 was one of the most eye-opening experiences I ever had.  I never met so many adults who carried on like children; so many children who were compelled to fend for themselves for want of quality supervision and/or instruction; so many judges whose jadedness was so evident, I wondered why they didn't just put a collection box at the door to the critique room." (BH)

  Unlike the positive contribution of Ludwig's plastic drum heads in Frank Arsenault's Cavalier line of 1957 (weather, tuning uniformity and projection), the bullet proof Kevlar head has been a disaster.  Cavaliers' director, Don Warren, attributes winning VFW that year to Miami humidity and that no one else had the plastic head yet. (DS)  With the Kevlar introduction in the mid 1980's, physical style had to change so bones and connecting tissue were not damaged.  This caused a loosening of grip.  With plastic, you play "through" the head like someone in martial arts puts bone through block. With Kevlar, you play "off" the head or get very uncomfortable.  This requires much more "bounce" and a loss of control.  Accent rebound control is essential for executing difficult passages.  Therefore, if the accent has more upward "bounce", those important "interior execution" notes are harder to control with little or no control between the 2nd and 4th fingers on either hand.  The brain has no reliable point to "think through".  You do not "know" where the bead of the stick is.  Kevlar forces you to bounce and guess.  Hence, the most common rudiments you observe today are multiple bounce.  Extended 32nd roll patterns and 24th note singles are rarely displayed.

     "I always played tight with the 4th finger. I had more control that way". (CP)  "I always played tight with the 4th finger. I had more control that way". (This author)

     "I stopped using Kevlar with my high school lines a couple of years ago after I played snare in a senior line.  It was very painful at times due to the lack of give on such a hard and tight surface.  The damage to a young persons hand could be devastating." (DgS)

     You can't expect to control an overtaped, 3S stick with a loose grip relying on multiple bounce rudiments while moving at 200 bpm striking a surface that sounds and feels like a formica kitchen countertop.

     "Nobody plays flams anymore." (MM, CP, RB, DB, this author)

     Flam execution requires low grace notes that display coordination and demand.  So many rudiments have vanished that current arrangements have been reduced to 16th note repeats and buzz rolls... orchestral parts... the equivalent of 1965 marching band.  It hasn't gone forward, it's gone backward!  Band directors and the corps flocked to buy Kevlar because one head might last a season; overall a cheaper solution.  The end result has been a tremendous net negative.

     "They are like automatic rebound machines. Geez, you could play a French seven one handed on the things!" (CP)

     In 1984, the tensive forces started ripping lugs right through drum shells.  Well, we fixed that!  Now, drummers run with 10 ply shells weighing many more pounds with die cast iron hoops.  Being an experienced "runner", I can tell you that a few pounds over a few miles is a lot.  Add 10 pounds with the drum stuck out away from the body creating more loss of balance and...

     You get the "paw" grip.  This technical monstrosity is a reflection of all that has gone wrong with rudimental presentation in the past 15 years. This grip has the index and middle fingers folded over the left stick and is extremely loose.  The right thumb is under the stick creating a loose fulcrum position.  There is no control.  It is similar to the styles of pre 1930 drum corps.  We have indeed entered the rudimental Dark Ages.

     "Some of the kids will be easier to adapt [to technical training] than others.  Some were so "Cadetty" it was terrible: right elbows almost parallel with their heads [not drum heads], stick angles in almost a straight line across the head, thumbing the left hand letting go of the stick with no wrist turn what-so-ever... oh it was a nightmare." (DB)

     "It is TWICE as hard to change the style of a player taught poor technique, than it is to take a beginner and teach them to play." (JT, MH, RB, MP, DB, this author)

     While airplanes, cars and computers get lighter and "smarter", drum corps weighs itself down with bad ideas, then refuses to get rid of them. It was information - the printing press - that finally broke the Dark Ages. Consider the following information:

     "It's pretty simple.  There is a certain amount of kinetic energy that the stick has just before it hits the head.  That energy has to go somewhere. If there is more rebound, then more of the energy has been returned to the stick.  The energy that isn't returned to the stick is transferred to the drum head.  I don't have any scientific figures on this, but I'm going to assume that most of the energy that is transferred to the head is converted to sound waves." (DA)

     "Radio, Power and Acoustic engineers often talk about "reflected energy" in transmission lines.  The less reflected energy a system has, the more efficient it is.  So, for a given tap on the drum, the more rebound you get (from the stick), the less sound you will have emanating from the drum.  We can talk all day about how Kevlar "sounds" better or worse than Mylar.  The fact is though, that it "sounds" less." (DA)

     "What you are talking about are what vibration engineers call "mode shapes".  The first mode of response of a head is a concentric one.  The entire head moves together.  In a typical modal analysis for a circular membrane, the next mode is a diametrical one - a "pie shape" if you will. In theory, mode shapes for different materials should be the same as long as they are isotropic; that is they have the same material properties in all dimensions.  I'm pretty sure mylar could be considered isotropic.  It is a little less definite when you talk about kevlar because it's a composite material.  The material will be very stiff in two directions (two because it is woven) of the Kevlar fibers.  Sound center heads are different because they don't have an equal distribution of mass.  Composite materials often have more dampening.  My understanding of this is that the constituent elements can rub against each other more, so more of the motion is directly converted to heat.  What I suspect is that the same thing is happening to the Kevlar head.  It is a composite material so there is more friction.  As a result, there is more damping." (DA)

     "The Kevlar head is stiffer, thicker, and it seems to me to be denser than the mylar head.  These are all factors that are going to cut down on the upper frequency modes of the head.  For a given tap, and assuming the heads at the same tension level, you're going to get more of a "thunk" from a Kevlar head and more of a "ping" from a Mylar head.  Those upper frequency sounds are what gives the head good definition.  The lower frequency modes are what gives the drum its power.  Most likely, Mylar heads have the same modal response as the Kevlar, but the higher frequency tones don't damp out as quickly.  The amount of sound the drum can produce is a function of the air column displaced.  Even at the same tension level, Kevlar is stiffer, so it doesn't move as much air when it is struck.  Of course, if the head is smaller, it also moves less air and has less acoustic output as well.  Kevlar users generally try to get the tonal definition back by tightening the head. But, this places further limits on the amount of excursion the head can achieve when it is struck.  The end result is a snare drum with a significant loss of apparent acoustical power.  It is a less efficient system." (DA)

     The future of rudimental drumming does not rest with the drum corps. Man is a competitive creature and rudimental training allows you to be much more competitive.  Music is getting more aggressive, syncopated and percussive.  Put on some 1960's charts or top 40's tunes from that era, then plug the headphones into some Industrial music.  The motive drones on and on, but there is usually quite a syncopative display supporting it that takes over for the lack of melody.  It's rhythmic.  The drum machines even have rolls and a few neat licks at appropriate times.  It is much more innovative than "modern" drum corps 16th notes and buzz rolls.  Many jazz and fusion groups now use a drum set player and an "accessories" player for all the toys.  After ditching all the big brass sections he had, Maynard Ferguson showed up at the Hyatt Regency (Dearborn, Mi.) on New Years Eve in 1984 and 85, with a small 7 piece group that had 2 percussionists.  There were trap trees all over the place and the group was much more percussion oriented without the full trumpet and trombone ensemble.

     Drum set players are learning how to play rudimentally and use sticking coordinations to develop more interesting fills and rhythms. Their problem is the fact they have not yet learned to "think" rudimentally.

     "Play this Ken... How the hell did you do that?  I never showed you that before OR the bass drum coordination."

         "Simple.  It's a windmill - a paradiddle with the flam in the middle.  You put your right hand on the cymbal and left on the snare remembering to move the left to the toms and backwards the flam.  Just think through it.  The bass drum part is on the lead side flam.  Simple." (JW & this author at a drum lesson.)

     Rudimental set drummers think "flam" or "backwards flam" in place of the set players "double stop".  This is probably because of sight reading charts and "exacting" the left hand independence to the established time.  No one can tell you are "flamming".  Double stops are difficult to execute.  Try it on a snare drum.  You won't "pop" the notes same way each time.  This is why rudimental players sound different behind a drum set.  We are much more exact and have the technical advantage of fast diddles off the left hand for texture, speed and variety.  It's a big plus (and our fill don't sound the same because of all the different stored patterns we accumulate).

     "Damn!  He didn't show up.  Well, I tried." (John Wallace to his 15 year old student after setting a trap for Buddy Rich in Detroit some years ago. I was to be introduced as a student, then take his head off.  Wallace knew my rudimental speed and execution.  He just wanted a little fun.  Rich never showed for his bands practice.  He was with a few "ladies" at the Detroit Race Course with the horses.)

     A graduate of the Rochester Crusaders is Steve Gadd, a famous set player and studio drummer.  "I was into playing with drum corps, fine rudimental musicians with fantastic technique." (SG)

     Billy Cobham was in St. Catharines in 1961, 1962, and also with the Sunrisers  (Senior) from 1963 to 1966.  As good as Cobham is a drummer, he had to earn his spot into an already filled line.  He therefore set out to do this by marching in the color guard.  When a spot opened in the drum section, he played tenor drum.  Then, a season after that, he moved into the snare segment.   Now that's what I call earning a spot in the line!" (WM)

     "Mr. Cobham, what do you think of rudiments?"  (JE)
     "I dig you corps guys." He took a swig of his favorite - milk and cookies - then tried to execute some flam drags for us.  He popped a few but then tried flam ratamacues.  (This author)

     "Mr. Coulatta, Why do you play traditional style?"
     "Well, I... um... um... ya know it's... because well, that I have the hi-hat on the left side.  But rudiments are important." (He didn't know.) (VC)

     "There is a drum set player by the name of Virgil Donati that "trains" just like we do.  He is fast and executes with endurance.  Many of his peers are afraid of him." (RB)

     During the 1968 Mexico Olympics, I wondered why a rudimental drummer couldn't train like an athlete.  After all, music is controlled muscle and drumming certainly needed muscle.  It was then that I embarked on developing training methods that honed playing skills of even faster than the masters who taught me.  Actually, the ideas came from them.  To develop grip strength and endurance, I practiced on books.  They don't allow bounce so you must think through your style and be in shape.  It doesn't change your coordination if you just spend one fourth the time on a drum head.  Compared to this, drum heads are a piece of cake.  Try pulling down with a stick that is being pulled up with a string. Do it 50 times; each arm.  Work the muscle groups.  Now speed drills - 100 or 500 measure rolls or accented singles. Endurance?  Just "picnic" doing quarter mile laps of rolls, singles and other rudiments for strength.  In 1976, I did over 1000 laps; 250 miles.  Remember, Redican used to come out of the woods with his hands bleeding.  (Phantom Regiment lines became used to 2 or 3 mile picnics. We did them all the time.)

     The double-bass drum set instruction I received formed this question: Is there a reason one couldn't purchase 4 different sized bass drums, mount two tenors on each, and move the feet from pedal to pedal? (4-2-3-1, hi-hat between 2 and 4.  Snare between 2 and 3.)  Is it physically possible?  Can execution be maintained while sitting on the stool and changing the center of gravity as you moved?  Is it possible to switch right hand leads against left foot or right foot leads then back again without losing concentration or control?  Can you think execution for both hands and feet at once?  Can you musically create counterpoint and implied melodic lines and think through them?  I have been practicing (training) this system for 25 years.  The complexities are astounding.  If you learn one coordination, you learn ten more.  The leg and foot style take full advantage of bone mass.  (Buddy Rich was a tap dancer in youth.  That is where he honed his footwork.  Heel-toe.) Foot movement against rudimental right hand ride and left hand independence is easy.  Switching left to right leads across the limbs gets to be a chore. The only other person I know of that has attempted this system is Jim Pecora with different bass drum locations. (Berkeley School of Music, Michigan State) People say rudimental drumming is dead; its all been done.  Rudimental drumming has yet to be discovered.  There is much to explore. (Quad bass drum set solo "Tachyon"- 1981; reprinted IARP-6)

     The split between the percussion, brass and "guard" captions in drum corps has widened to the point all three seem to do better on their own.  WGI has their ballet contests, percussion has indoor and brass choir exists for the mouthpiece crowd. (Marching fanatics hope we still march - all pit is not to their interest.)

     Percussion instructors started doing indoor as another competitive venue.  The college lines were extremely good.  There were no props or gimmicks.  Now, indoor has become a place to get away from the guard people and try and get some real competition.  The problem is that these "visual designers" and WGI judges have made the indoor percussion score sheet non-competitive like their own sheets with a huge allotment for GE.  (It was 25.  Now I think it is 40.)  WGI does not have the self-discipline to keep its hands off the percussion kids.  It won't be long before you see design junk replace performance in some immature attempt at "art" for a few thousand bucks a crack.  I have already observed it as a judge and the quality of those units is sad.  Such mediocrity still gets high marks in a ridiculous attempt to make everyone "feel good."  Well, learning is not always warm and fuzzy.  What was a great chance for percussion to excel away from band and drum corps stagnation, is quickly becoming a net negative as "visual designers" try to get another paycheck.  They will wreck it like they have wrecked everything else.  The percussion people are going to have to stop "visual experimentation", or face the same philosophical fate as the corps and bands with kids walking around going, "We don't listen to the judges. We play for the audience.  It's all screwed up.  This is so frustrating!" It will become the same failed product.

     That drum corps and the rudimental instructors have acted like Borg in assimilating the other two percussion idioms into the scoring format has caused a loss of identity.  When the untrained music PhD's were coming into the judging scene, it was a one way street.  They couldn't speak our language, didn't care to learn the alphabet and insulted us.  From a percussion clinic in the mid 1980's:
     "Who are you to say that a snare line should study out of orchestral books?  You have but one rudimental book listed here in your
recommendations!" (This author)
     "Yeah, who are you to come in here and tell us we should do this?  Who have you ever taught?" (LL)
     "I have taught a finalist's bass line for two weeks." (SF-clinician)

     With this type of influence bearing down on the drum lines for a decade and a half, it is no wonder the lines are stuck at the back of the field holding props.  WE ARE NOT ORCHESTRA!  This simple fact must be accepted for rudimental drumming to flourish again in the corps.  If not, one can only hope the indoor scene is not ruined.  Keep in mind that most orchestral people who became involved in outdoor percussion before DCI's formation, learned to play rudimentally and also ended up writing and judging.  They learned the art and contributed.

     "It's hilarious!  Last night our percussion line got dumped totally (better performance than Saturdays 7.2... 5.8 last night) with the same two words that I've seen twice before: "TOO RUDIMENTAL" (A)

     "College bands are trying to distinguish their communities.
      High school bands are trying to distinguish their egos.
      Corps are trying to distinguish their idioms.
      No one is trying to distinguish their art."  (SR)

Rudimental drummers must realize the moral, intellectual and financial bankruptcy that surround them to survive.  Where did the problem come from?  Outcome-based education.  Drum corps has never been co-habitable with the public schools for one very important reason... tax money. The corps support themselves.  High school does not.  Big difference. Drum corps is NOT the educational system even though it now tries to act like it.  Drum corps is in the entertainment BUSINESS.

     Consider that outcome-based proponent Ken Turner had a tremendous influence on DCI's agenda for 20 years. "He currently serves as director  of music for the Johnson City central school district in Johnson City, New York which is nationally recognized as one of the leading proponents of Outcome-Based Education." (DCI-T)

     "In addition, he has been a member of DCI rules committee, the Task Force on Judges Education, the Judges Systems Development Committee and the Drum Corps 2000 Committee.  Mr. Turner has served as Coordinator of Judges for New York Field Band Conference as well as Chief Judge Administrator for DCI." (DCI-T)

     "- served in a leadership capacity under three different DCI executive directors." (DCI-T)

     Outcome-Based Education is a horrendous failure across the country. It has made our school systems unreliable for teaching "basics".  It is based on a "feel good", "uncompetitive" atmosphere where "feelings" take the place of real achievement.  Look at the judge's panels and those who run "YEA".  All have a resume stating "educator."  This is why the tick system was thrown out - too judgemental and brutish. This is why taped commentary was watered down - too harsh.  This is why scores are so stupidly high - make everyone feel good (even if it wasn't worthy.) Drum corps tragedy is a direct result of the Outcome-Based crowd.  This crowd must be stopped. It is a wrecking crew that prospers by claiming self esteem for non-achievement; emotion over logic.  "They will tell you that everyone "feels good" about their accomplishments; that high self esteem is better than high standards." (GG)

"The individual should always be sacrificed for the whole." (KT)
"The student should always be sacrificed for the design." (KT)
"Execution doesn't count for much anymore." (KT)

"I am not a fan of competition." (GH)
"We need less judges, not more." (GH)

     From the Summer Music Games - Educational Series Part I, for use in competitive drum corps, color guard and bands.  Expressive Movement. "Remember too that there is more life and grander emotion to be discovered beyond technical perfection." (p. 32) "We learn that we can often sell out for the praise of accuracy over beauty." (p. 31)

     "What many considered to be "groundbreaking" turns out to be in retrospect, simply a quirky departure, a stylistic sleight of hand that played to the early judges of the "feel good" seige. It was mistaken for true innovation and the waves of imitations has drowned true creativity. Combined with the sudden and ill-advised lurch toward a phony "scoring" system, and you have very simply, the seeds of drum corps destruction." (GG)

     Here is a quote from a failed California "reading" experiment similar to the experiments going on with "art" through "visual designers":

     "Things got out of hand.  School administrators and principals thought they were following the framework when they latched on to 'whole language', and our greatest mistake was in failing to say, 'Look out for the crazy stuff, look out for the overreactions and the religiously anti-skills fanatics.' We totally misjudged which voices would take charge of the schools.  We never believed it would be driven to this bizarre edge.  When I tell people that we never even say the phrase 'whole language' anywhere in the 73 page document, they look at me like I'm mad." (BHa)

     "He is now at the forefront of an opposition movement to return to a heavy emphasis on basic reading skills in grade school.  Indeed, California's fourth graders are now such poor readers that only children in Louisiana and Guam - both hampered by pitifully backwards education systems - get worse reading scores." (BHa)

     "Civilizations do not give out, they give in.  In a society where anything goes, eventually, everything will." (JU)
     "Our society is allowing its kids to get away with anything they want because to make them feel bad is wrong.  To let them fail is cruel." (DB)
     "Along the way, a great deal of our educational system has been therapized: self-esteem programs that induce a feeling of success, quite apart from any achievement." (JL)
     "Threading through all this talk is the reigning doctrine of the schools, which almost everyone takes for granted. It is "child centered."
This means that it is the teachers' job to interest the students, not the students responsibility to buckle down and learn.  There was a startling amount of emphasis on teaching children about themselves and their "feelings", rather than the outside world." (JL)
     "Ed school theory these days is tightly focused on feelings, and hostile to standards and the idea of competition.  This produces a philosophy of levelling that is indifferent, sometimes antagonistic to achievement.  Bright achievers must be tamped down somehow as part of the campaign for social equality." (JL)

     Drum and bugle corps have been used as a place to perfect an image for designers and judges because they know the money is not in the corps, but in the high school band programs.  This is why you have all the focus now on "marching band" and "let's switch to band instruments".  Band directors are part of a union and unions protect their own.  Everyone wants to be part of the Outcome-Based crowd.

     "...- and before you know it, you find yourself trying to sell drum corps to the marching bands that are teaching it to you." (SR)

     "Canadian Strike!:  One of North America's largest ever teachers' strike swept Ontario as an illegal walkout by 126,000 teachers barred 2.1 million students from their classes in Canada's most populous province. The strike is effectively a power struggle between the teachers' unions and Ontario's Conservative government over who should control the future of education policies in the province." (USA Today Oct 29, 1997)

     In drum corps, the struggle to use kids as game pieces is the same; reduced to pawns in adult (design) conflicts.  Proof of this is no greater than the contradiction of having "non-competitions" with "self esteem for non-achievement" where "everyone is a winner" and "feels good" wrapped around the stolen headliner "The Summer Music Games."  Olympians compete. They have defined rules.  It is real competition.

     Contradictions are not marketable in the entertainment business. That drum corps has survived this long with such ignorance, is a testament to the popularity it COULD achieve if ever it adopted an intelligent philosophy.

     "The reaction to the 27th Lancers at Foxboro should have been a wake up call.  When an exhibition corps gets more reaction and a louder and longer ovation than the winner of the show, something is wrong.  And don't anyone say it was nostalgia - it was good, it was fun, it was loud. People don't want to spend 3 hours sitting in uncomfortable seats going: "I say, Howard, did you hear that marvelous minor third in the middle voices?"  (RL)

     "People go absolutely crazy when Madison marches on the field - and the line isn't as straight as it could be." (RL)

     What are they going crazy about?  Drum corps doesn't have to work as hard as it thinks it does to make money.  Let the drummers play.  Let them play well.  Get rid of the visual designers with no real art training and orchestral players with no chops.  Let them experiment on someone else's time and money.  Sell what you have that is unique and competitive against lazy school systems, ballet, the symphony and poor execution trend specialists like Stomp and Blue Man Group, etc.  You will win.

     To accomplish this we will have to go back to the tick deduction system for percussion with an analysis judge. For corps, the answer is to take the power away from the adults and visual designers with a 75 - 25 split.  Ticks for percussion and marching only.  Again, judging defines the criteria.  The criteria defines the product.

25 drums      15 ex 10 analysis   (5 demand - 5 musicianship)    3 judges
25 marching   15 ex 10 analysis   (5 demand - 5 guard)           3 judges
25 brass      15 ex 10 analysis   (5 demand - 5 ensemble)        3 judges
25 GE         10 P  10 B  10 M   x   5/6    =  25                3 judges
This system can use as few as 4 judges: 1p 1m 1b 1GE or 2p 2b 2m 3GE for 9.

25 drums    15 ex (5 demand by one 5 musicianship by the other) 2-3 judges
25 marching 15 ex 10 analysis                                   2-3 judges
25 brass    15 ex 10 analysis                                   2-3 judges
25 GE       15 effect 10 ensemble                               2 judges

     Good performance will create all the GE you will ever need giving the audience something they can't pay money to see anywhere else. Is everyone that afraid to let the marchers have the spotlight again?

     To fix the problems, the performer must again come first and the judging community must be re-established. (Figure skating judges receive no pay - only travel fees. They must pass bronze, silver and gold skating tests to judge. I saw 15 of them learning at Detroit 1994 Nationals.) What is wrong with a 2 or 3 minute concert number?  The crowd might enjoy it. Or shall we continue to wreck drum corps show psychology for "design" demand? Some corps write the music to the "drill". Music is the priority. I can prove it.

     The U.S. Marine Drum Corps did the 1988 Bands of America retreat at the Pontiac Silverdome.  They received standing ovations and played the show twice.  It is interesting that all they marched was a well executed 1950's drill without much music correlation.  They didn't need it. The motion of good understandable marching was exciting enough and created the interest to support their show. Imagine that!

     Drum corps has thrown away its workable roots for too much complexity; always the sign of bad art.

     "We have meetings all the time. We had a rules meeting last year for the 175 bands, and one director came.  I think they do trust us!"  (GH)

     Do not mistake trust for apathy.  Twenty years ago we had a thriving corps circuit and an emerging band circuit in Michigan.  There were 3 or 4 caption meetings per year that were well attended. The annual meeting was packed; 30 or 40.  I watched this number dwindle to 6 or 7 at annual meetings. The circuit disbanded a few years ago. Mandatory turnouts required at pre-season field days was all that remained. There were not many new trainees. It's as if everyone just gave up, yet the band circuit had more members than ever. I don't get it. Is everyone THAT afraid to change things and fix this?

     Part of the problem is the percussionists themselves. "Keep in mind that NARD swelled to 10,000 members at one time. It was used as a marketing tool with no objective standards." (RB) Many have refused to stand up and stop the musical genocide of rudimental drumming for fear of retribution; loss of job or judging assignments or the dumping of students.  Most of the percussion people are not "artists" and have quietly nodded their heads at the "visual designers" that subjugated them. To speak out brings trouble for yourself and your students.

     "Why don't you take a few years off, Ken? You really need to adjust your attitude."  (JE)

     My answer is simple. Write letters to your local school superintendent, principal, booster club and band director. Tell them what is going on. Demand the qualifications of all visual design judges and instructors. Demand their payouts.  If needed, go over their heads to secondary school organizations that exist in many states and to the local legislature representative.  Local newspapers are hungry for this type of community news.  Large newspapers may also like to run the story.  Once a state governor gets some inquiries, the band director will not protect these "visual designers" without credentials.  They will protect their paychecks. It may take this type of action to fix the mess.  Many of those responsible believe they answer to no one and are immune to scrutiny. It has gone that far.

     "This thing has turned into something it was never meant to be." (A band parent at a state championship show as we discussed all the mammoth props being set up around us and a passing color guard pushing baby buggies with cut up dolls in them.)

In conclusion, the drums went silent for these reasons:

*  Drum corps adoption of an Outcome-Based, non-competitive philosophy where subjective whim outstrips objective reality.
*  The loss of audio/visual marching pulse supplied by percussion sections. Silence does not produce a pulse and is not competitively demanding.
*  The use of copied orchestral percussion parts in an attempt at "correct interpretations", thereby destroying rudimental originality.
*  The use of orchestral judging imports who never learned or respected rudimental drumming techniques, demand and tolerance.
*  The loss of demand, or any reliable definition of it, on the score sheets destroying any intelligent trade off of risk/reward. (Demand is inherent.)
   Criteria defines the product. No criteria. No product.
*  A loss of adjudication uniformity and tolerance causing a lack of focus and mistrust of judges.
*  Visual designers forcing battery members to the back of the field doing high velocity moves (sideways) where simple 16th notes and buzz rolls are
   all that can be played. (They call it "crab" walking. Crabs are ugly.)
*  The sacrifice of the student for the adult design.
*  Drum lines shoved to the back of the field to produce an "orchestral" balance.
*  The loss of almost all meaningful drum solos: demand condensed into extremely short "bits" of performance without the chance to develop.
*  The loss of rudimental style.
*  The loss of rudimental history.
*  The change of style caused by the Kevlar bullet proof drum head.
*  The improvement of the college and drum set drummers to the point they surpass corps achievements.
*  The lack of a cohesive approach to the problem by the percussionists themselves.
*  Apathy. A belief that nothing can be done to correct the problems.

     It also suffers from an identity crisis. The entire activity is defensive; hidden from the audience.  White shoes are suicide.  Pant stripes are limited.  Grounding equipment for minutes at a time is common. Arrangements display the most obtuse cuts that staffs can find in some weird intellectual hunt for confusing treasures. (This at a time when classical music sales have dropped to 2.9% in 1996 from a high of 5.0% in the mid 1980's.) (USN) Everyone is trying to be something else, but aren't as good at being that something as that something is; a marketing nightmare.

     And finally, this philosophy held by some drum corps directors:

"Drum corps ain't a beauty contest; it's a game played with rules."  (WC)
"Drum corps is a GAME, and a game managed by peoples opinions... not facts!" (GH)

     So what we have then is a game played with rules that have no facts. I, the people that trained me, and my students do not treat the art as a game.

     "In watching drum performance, I watch for originality in arrangements and more importantly in the visual design." (WC) If this observation by a non-drummer is correct, it should tell you what has happened to the sheets and the philosophy of organized outdoor pageantry.

     Consider this recent internet chat I had with a Cadet keyboard player of this past season. (Sally from their pit.)

She  "For us it's about the experience; music is just the vehicle."
Me   "For us it was about the music; the experience just the vehicle."

     DCI has tried to market adult designs when all it has to do is emphasize the individual physical and mental discipline of the performers. Instead, they made the drums go silent. You can turn drum corps into marching band, add woodwinds, Bb everything and add electronics and dancing clowns... It will not change a thing.  Drum corps problems are its competitive philosophy and the fact it tries to market adult "design".

     As the drums go, so goes the marketing of outdoor pageantry. Rudimentalists will prosper with drum sets, in college lines and indoor competition.

     Respectfully submitted,
            Ken Mazur

 RAMD Virtual Symposium 1997: Crossroads

"Who Took The Drum Out of Drum Corps?"
Ken Mazur

Copyright 1997 by Ken Mazur
All rights reserved.


Jack Lynehan (Governors Footguard Band, New Haven, Connecticut)  1880
J. Burns Moore (1872-1951) >> Bobby Redican >> Charlie Poole >> many
Carl Frolich >> many
Earl Sturtze >> Frank Arsenault >> Eric Perrilloux >> Hugh Quigley >> many
Jay Tuomey >> Les Parks >> Bobby Thompson >> Marty Hurley >> many
Ken Mazur >> Keenan Pituch >> many
David Below >> many

     Art is the intelligent manipulation of natural elements affecting the five senses, time and understanding by the arrangement of uncertainty (choosing focal points), complementarity (proportion and influence), and probability (transitions which lead an observer to favorable responses), using the least possible energy and materials (simplicity and efficiency). Art is the organization and improvement of nature's chaos; simple to do since nature has so many equal signs; difficult because one must master the use of limited palette.

     A block of stone or wood, a blank canvas, space... silence.  All are creative opportunities awaiting birth.  The longer a design must function, the stronger its foundation must be requiring more foresight, responsibility and talent. Consider the longevity of a vehicle, movie, music score, building, city, nation or universe. Great design is complex in the artists mind; simple to those who witness it.

     All art has limits. They are a form of control because limits create order in a chaotic environment.  The universe has many limits; a polarity of push and pull: the speed of light, the number of electrons in an atoms valence, the condensation of black holes, the molecular complexity of cells, the coldness of absolute zero in space.  Cell membranes and skin define biological limits keeping chaos from an ordered interior.  Music has limits:  range of instruments, measures, scales, duration of notes, etc.  Life's duration is a limit. Try to think of a new color. You can't. You are limited by what is already here.

     Outdoor pageantry has its limits too. Limits are what creativity is all about.

End Notes

A  - Anonymous          Information withheld at request of the individual.
DA - Adams, Dave        1978 Phantom Regiment.  Professional engineer.
DA - Angelica, Don      DCI television finals broadcast commentary.
RB - Beckham, Rick      Instructor/Arranger. Creator of the "Rudimental
                        Webpage". 27th Lancers. Currently teaches high school
                        lines and indoor percussion.
DB - Below, Dave        Instructor/Arranger for Mavericks Indoor Drum Line,
                        Mich. Snare, 1992 Crossmen.  Student of this author.
BB - Boitano, Brian     World and Olympic mens figure skating champion.
                        Discussion at Joe Louis Arena, 1994
TB - Brown, Tom         Santa Clara Vanguard, Blessed Sacrament Golden
                        Knights. Instructor of high school bands on the east
                        coast. Instructed by Bobby Thompson and Fred Sanford.
JC - Campbell, Jerry    1988 USA women's figure skating olympic alternate.
SC - Campbell, Steve    1985 & 1986 DCI Snare Drum Champion.  Canadian
                        National Champion. Blue Devils, Sarnia Buccaneers.
GC - Cesario, Greg      Drum Corps visual designer. DCI Today, Winter 1997,
                        Volume 23, # 1, p.50
WC - Cook, William      Former Corps Director, Star of Indiana.
VC - Coulatta, Vinnie   Well known drum set drummer at clinic in late
                        1980's, Roseville, Michigan sponsored by Huber &
                        Breeze Music.
DgS- David              Internet correspondence with permission Oct. 27, 1997
                        Last name withheld by request.
BD - DCI Board
     of Directors       DCI Today, Winter 1997, Volume 23, #1,  p.49
DCI-T                   DCI Today, Winter 1997, Volume 23  # 1, p. 48
                        "Some Thoughts on Design and Performance" by Dr.
                        Rosalie Sword
JE - Easton, Jim        Glassmen, Oakland Crusaders, University of Mich Band.
TE - Eldridge, Todd     United States figure skating mens champion.
                        Discussion at Joe Louis Arena, 1994
JE - Ellis, Jack        Comment to this author on May 2, 1992 at Ken Turner
                        clinic in Michigan. Lakeview high school band
SF - Finck, Stanley     Doctor of Music from University of Whitewater
                        giving clinic in Michigan in the mid 1980's.
JF - Flowers, John      East Coast instructor/arranger.  Reading Buccaneers.
                        Archer-Epler National Snare Drum Champion 1952
                        U.S. Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps
SG - Gadd, Steve        Famous drum set player and studio musician.
DG - Gibbs, Dave        Corps Director of the Blue Devils. Interview by
                        Christina Mavroudis, April, 25, 1995
GG - Griffith, Greg     "Does Rudimental Drumming Matter? Drumming, Art and the 'Feel Good' Seige"
                        Bridgemen drum line - 1984
BHa- Hamon, Beth        Portland, Oregon school teacher.  Correspondence.
BH - Honing, Bill       "The Blackboard Jungle" by Jill Stewart. Quote p.23
                        Volume 18 #14, March 1-7, 1996
GH - Hopkins, George    Youth Education in the Arts, Cadets Corps Director.
MH - Hurley, Marty      Instructor/Arranger  Phantom Regiment, Regiment
                        Militare, Belleville Black Knights
IARP-1                  International Association of Rudimental
                        Percussionists. Volume 1, #3, p.13
                        "The Soldier of the Drum" by Brian Seibel
IARP-2                  International Association of Rudimental
                        Percussionists. Volume 2, #1, p. 27,28.  "The Company
                        of Fifers and Drummers" by Susan Cifaldi.
IARP-4                  International Association of Rudimental
                        Percussionists. Volume 1, #3, p.16-18.  "George
                        Lawrence Stone" by Dr. Eric Chandler and James
IARP-5                  International Association of Rudimental
                        Percussionists.  Volume 2, #1, p.16-18  "Earl S.
                        Sturtze" by Jim Clark
IARP-6                  Drum Solos. A Collection of Solos by Members of the
                        International Association of Rudimental
                        Percussionists. Tachyon by Ken Mazur, Quad Bass Drum
                        Set Solo
RL - LaRoche, Rich      Internet correspondence.
JL - Lowe, Jason        South Cobb High School Drum Line. Correspondence.
JL - Leo, John          U.S. News and World Report, March 23, 1992
                        U.S. News and World Report, April 27, 1992
LL - Lurch, Larry       Glassmen percussion caption head in mid 1980's.
MM - Mann, Mike         Instructor/Arranger  Phantom Regiment, Director
                        of Bands University of Miami. Adjudicator. NARTD
MI - McIssac, Marty     Boston Crusaders Senior, Pembroke Imperials
WM - McGrath, William A. "The Contribution of Senior Corps to Marching
                        Percussion"   U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
                        Yankee Rebels.
MP - Petty, Mark A.     Instructor/Arranger  Glassmen, Cavaliers,
                        Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps (Correspondence Oct.
CP - Poole, Charles     Conversations at DCI Snare Individuals Aug. 97 and
                        interview November 3, 1997. Connecticut State
                        Champion 1966, 67,68,69   -  Northeast Champion
                        1966, 67, 68, 69.  All American National Champion
                        1968, 70, 71 Boston Crusaders, 27th Lancers, DCI
JP - Pratt, John S.     Rudimental Drum Instructor of Field Music, West
                        Point. All-American Association Judge.  Hawthorne
                        Caballeros.  Authored many drumming books.
SR - Rice, Stuart E.    Marching Historian. Internet monthly newsletter:
                        "Stuart Rice On Marching."  Blue Devils 1983
DS - Spaulding, Dan C.  The Evolution of Drum Corps Drumming, Percussive
                        Arts Society Magazine, 1980. Cavaliers percussion
                        caption head mid 1970's.  Conductor.
DS-IARP                 Spaulding, Dan C. International Association of
                        Rudimental Percussionists. Volume 2, # 1 p. 6-9
                        Interview with "Dan Spaulding."
BS - Schniederman, Bill Principal percussionist for the Pittsburgh
                        Symphony Orchestra at dinner with mutual
                        friends in 1994.
BSm- Semeyn, Bill       Internet posting, November 1997
CP - Terrari, Carol P.  Audabon drum major 1969 at VFW Nationals.
JTh- Thigpen, Jody      Rudimentalist.  Recent correspondence.
BT - Thompson, Bobby    Sons of Liberty, Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights
BT-pi- Thompson, Bobby  Private instruction at corps camps in 1972.
JT - Tuomey, Jay        Sons of Liberty Fife and Drum Corps. Landcraft
                        Fife and Drum Corps.This authors instructor for
                        many years.
JT-pi - Tuomey, Jay     Private instruction in the late 60's and early
KT - Turner, Ken        Clinic comments May 2, 2992, at Park Lane Motel,
                        5:45-7:00 PM, Lansing Michigan.  Topic: Viewing the
                        Band as a Whole. The End Product Should Exceed Its
                        Parts.  Understanding Coordination - The Big
JU - Underwood, John    Ann Landers column, Detroit Free Press, December 25,
                        1994 (from Boston Globe)
USN - U.S. News
  and World Report      "Selling 'Jailbait' Bach" by John Marks.  p.56-57,
                        November 11, 1996
SW - Watkins, Sam R.    "Co. Aytch", The Classic Memoir of the Civil War by
                        a Confederate Soldier.  p.28  p.34
JW - Wallace, John      This authors drum set instructor for many years.
                        Leader of the Johnny Wallace Big Band.  Music
                        agent in Detroit.
DW - Wick, Dan          Instructor/Arranger/Adjudicator  Flushing High School
                        Percussion Line. Phantom Regiment.
BY - York, Barry        Bluecoats, 1989 & 1990; Madison Scouts 1992
                        Frequent internet poster on RAMD.


Ken Mazur      Marching, teaching and judging history.

Brass-A-Tears Jr. Centerline, Mi.     1962 1963 1964 1965 (Maczuga)
Vanguard Sr.  St. Clair Shores, Mi.   1966 1967 1968  (Tuomey)
Diplomats Jr.  Roseville, Mi.         1968 1969 1970 (Leis, Tuomey, Malcolm)
Vanguard Jr.  St. Clair Shores, Mi.   1971 1972 1973 (Tuomey)
Glassmen Jr.  Toledo,Oh.              1974  (folded Aug 1) (Petty)
Saginaires Jr.  Saginaw, Mi.          1974
Glassmen  Toledo, Oh.                 1975  (Petty)
Phantom Regiment Jr.  Rockford, IL.   1976  (Hurley)
Royal Lancers Sr.  Wyandotte, Mi.     1988 1989

Drum Set :  1962 - 1997  (Genoa, Wallace)  Performed with numerous music ensembles mainly jazz, big band, fusion and rock.  Most recently with "Atlantis"  (Top 40) and "Headin South" (Country and Western).

Inventor and perfector of the Multiple Pitched Quad Bass Drum Set 1972-1997; an experiment testing the musical limits of the human mind and body with coordination and rudimental drumming. Perfected many advanced Olympic style training techniques for speed, coordination, endurance and execution thought processes.

1968-1976  Winner of 35 local, regional and state snare drum and drum set contests.

1972  2nd place  American Guild of Music National Drum Set Championship.
       Indianapolis, Indiana
1973  4th place  All-American National Snare Drum Championship
       Sarnia Ontario, Canada
1974  3rd place  DCI World Snare Drum Championship  Ithaca, New York
1975  3rd place  DCI World Snare Drum Championship  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1976  lst place  DCI World Champion   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1975 1976   Leamington Townsmen, Windsor Guardsmen  Ontario Canada
              Caption Head  Arranger/Instructor
1977        Windsor Guardsmen  Caption Head   Arranger/Instructor
1978 1979   Phantom Regiment   Execution Instructor
1982        Golden Garrison, Ypsilanti Mi.  Caption Head
             Most Improved Drum Corp, Great Lakes Drum Corp Association
             DCI Class A Finalists
1984        Phantom Regiment  Execution Instructor  (1st tour only)
1991 1992   Southgate High School   Caption Head  Arranger/Instructor
             Undefeated MCBDA Percussion Champions
1993-1997   Consulting, clinics and RAMD trouble maker.

1976-1997   Drum Corp and Marching Band. Experienced in all percussion
             adjudication areas including the tick sheet. Indoor
             percussion and individual contests. Known as a tough judge
             to please.
1987-1992   Percussion Caption Head, Great Lakes Judging Association
             Responsible for sheet interpretation, judges tolerances,
             training of new prospectives, rewriting of percussion score
             sheets to reflect a more performance oriented approach to
             judging high school students.
1989        President - Great Lakes Judges Association
             Liason to band directors and judging circuit. Oversee
             caption heads and judging concerns. Serve as scratching
             post for nervous band directors.
             Handle complaints and watch over contractual situations.

AUTHOR:  The Technique and Mechanics of Competitive Rudimental Snare
          Drumming. 380pgs  1978
         The Basic Technique of Rudimental Drumming  105pgs.  1980

President - Silverdot Illustration. 1984 to present. Provide commercial and residential delineation services to architectural, interior design, and engineering firms.  Design and illustrate presentations for developers, municipalities and advertising agencies.  Specialize in casein tempera - an egg-based fast drying media - marker, water color, pencil broadside, oils and ink renderings.  Excellent freehand sketching and perspective layout. Construction documents and design available on request.

Harold Weeks - Freehand sketching and composition. ( U of Detroit)
Morris Jackson - Architectural perspective and delineation. Rapid brush
Artist for Smith, Hintchmen and Grylls for 25 years, Detroit, Mi.
Howard Etter - Design and delineation. Marker technique. Human figure
sketching.  (Arch. delineator)
Richard Rush - Basic design and proportion. (Architect)
Dale Ferriby - Basic design and proportion (Architect)
Harvey Ferraro - Architectural delineation and quick freehand sketching.
Shirley Hathaway - Oil painting, water colors and composition. Scarab Club,
Dan Keller - Oil painting and composition. Scarab Club, Detroit.
Lewis King - Watercolorist. Technique and execution. Armada, Mi.

Lawrence Technological University - Bachelor of Architecture

Since so many corps run around the field these days and claim demand, here is my competitive running resume with best finishes:

Marathons: 1996 Los Angeles  (4204 / 16239) , 1994 1995 1996 Detroit,
 1994 Columbus, 1996 1997 Walt Disney, 1996 Pittsburg
Half Marathons: 1996 Las Vegas  (978 / 2400)
10 milers: The Crim, Flint Mi. (1896 / 5112), 1995 The Race From Hell, Hell,
 1995 1996 Michigan Big 10 Run, Ann Arbor Mi.
 1997 First of America Classic, St. Petersburg, Fl.
10K and 5 milers : Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston SC. (2482 / 12207)
 1993 1994 1995 1996 Oak Apple Run, Royal Oak, Mi.
 1993 1994 1995 1996 Allen Park Street Fair, Mi. (227 / 631)
Medalist : 1994 1995 1996 Michigan Firecracker Mile - Open Division  Clawson, Mi.