"Who Took The Drum Out of Drum Corps?"

Mr. Ken Mazur

Part 1 of 5

     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 primary 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 - 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.  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 others 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 (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.

     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 is not from Basle. (,RRL,RRL, = 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 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 Heorge
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.)  Again, 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 pada-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

     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
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 camps status gave way to the term

     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 Emmits, "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 soldiers time was
up, he could go home.  The drummers 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." 

     Individual snare contests were held frequently and a problem developed between the
Emmit/Bruce 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.  E/B had the roll open-closed-open while Strube had it open to
close.  E/B 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 Emmit 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. (IARP-4)

     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 stick heights. (IARP-4)

[End of part 1 of 5]

Part 2 of 5

     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 plat 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 Reppingr, 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."

     "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 Emmit'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

     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

     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 all 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

     "I kid you not.  Redican would flick cigarette ashes in the hand of a player who turned his
hand flat.  He hated that.  You, of course, 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 ever 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 unsymmetrical arm positions.  If
someone tried to walk in on a rehearsal of the masters like that, they would have been in it...

     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 Reppingr 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)

     "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 either
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

     "Breakdowns are useless.  I saw Frank Arsenault do a half hour breakdown 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 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 R,RR R,RR R,RR R,R R.  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

     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 hub-bub 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
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

     "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."

     "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 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 seem 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

     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
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!"

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

[End of Part 2]

Part 3 of 5

     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 the emphasis 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 - taxpayers 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 over
numbers the designers and arrangers had.  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, the 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
     "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 with the high school
programs even more dinosaur.  Most of us decided to go elsewhere for education than public

     I was touted 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

     "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'm sure 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 one of 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 remotely related 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

     "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.

     As the "total show package" took over the scoring and paychecks in the late 1980's and
1990's, it replaced the individual member in importance.  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

     "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)

[End of Part 3 of 5]

Part 4 of 5

     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

     "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 finalists 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

     "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)

[End of Part 4 of 5]

Part 5 of 5

     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 judges 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." 
     "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
*  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

     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

     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

[End Part 5 of 5]


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 natures 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
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 director. 
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
IARP-4              International Association of Rudimental Percussionists. Volume 1,
                    #3, p.16-18.  "George Lawrence Stone" by Dr. Eric Chandler and
                    James Buckley
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 founder.
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. 1997)
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. 
DS-IARP             Spaulding, Dan C. International Association of Rudimental
                    Percussionists. Volume 2, # 1 p. 6-9 Interview with "Dan
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 1970's.
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 Picture."
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.