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A little more on DCI vs Barbershop (with apologies to John Witmer)

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  • Steve and Terri Sammonds
    Sorry John, but any time we can look at other organizations and learn from their successess or failures, it is worth discussing. Besides, I can t help but
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2002
      Sorry John, but any time we can look at other organizations and learn from their successess or failures, it is worth discussing. Besides, I can't help but think our current chorus champs borrowed a few elements of drum corps in their gold medal performance! :c)

      Someone mentioned the different competitive divisions of drum corps, and this is something I keep tossing around in my mind as something we might consider in barbershop. Right now we have "plateaus" which I don't believe are standardized across the Society (i.e., I think that they are defined within each district). These plateaus are also defined solely on chapter size (at least that's the way it is here in Far Western). DCI separates the corps into three divisions based partly on corps size (each Division has a max corps size) and partly on the amount of touring and rehearsing they do and their competitive level. I'm not sure if there are budgetary limitations as well; the definitions on the DCI web site do not say so.

      I've been playing around with some ideas on defining competitive divisions in barbershop that might help eliminate the attitude of "we can't compete against THEM." This was the topic of another discussion here a month or so ago, and I believe I brought this up at that time. Anyway, if anyone is interested in my ideas on how we might define barbershop divisions (for choruses -- not sure you could do it at the quartet level), contact me personally.

      As for the drum corps "umbrella" question -- well in a sense yes there have been debates but not quite the same as ours. Since drum corps can play any style of music they want (classical, jazz, pop, rock....) there isn't a stylistic issue. Oh I suppose back in the 50's and 60's when the first corps played something other than standard marches there was some outcry -- I don't know for sure. But it has evolved since I first watched it as five-year-old in the 1960's. And each change has brought about it's supporters and detractors. The lesson to barbershoppers probably is that although the drum and bugle corps of 2002 is much different than what existed in the 1960's, there is no doubt when you see and hear it that it is still drum and bugle corps. There is more emphasis on dance and color guard, the "drums" now include a huge array of non-marching concert instruments such as marimba, chimes, even trap sets, and the basic "bugle" has moved from one valve F-G bugles to three-valve concert Bb horns. I use our barbershop bandwidth to tell you all this again because it's an example of how another musical organization has continued to evolve without killing the style. Still, I will admit there are many who will decry that drum corps is no longer "pure" so in that sense, yes they have similar debates to what we have. I haven't visited the drum corp newsgroups for quite awhile, but I'm sure they are as lively as ever. Oh yes, they have judging controversies, too! In that sense, I think they more closely resemble figure skating to barbershop. ;c)

      Unless someone raises another point to which I can't resist responding, I expect this to be the last post I send (for now) regarding the parallels and differences between SPEBSQSA and DCI. (BTW, there may be others who are even better versed in DCI than I -- I'm just a fan, not an expert.) Just like I direct my friends to visit www.spebsqsa.org to learn more about barbershop and the Society, I direct anyone interested in learning more about the drum corps activity to visit www.dci.org (the fyi section has info about the history and such).

      As always in harmony,
      Steve Sammonds (sammonds@...)
      Music Director, Palo Alto-Mountain View Chapter

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