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Electronics in Marching Band


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They annoy me when they malfunction and cause a loud screeching noise. But i honestly think it depends on the show. If it goes with the music, and sounds really good then it's fine.

I agree completely..

 

If you keep them under control and actually know how to use them..... then sure...

 

If your going to take 5 minutes to untangle cords and find where they go... then have the bass guitar and synth turned up WAY to loud...... or have the wireless not work when you need it too... blah blah blah... too much crap that happens.

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When I was in band our keyboard was hidden in the drum major podium. It was used to boost the bass in the low brass, not for vocal effects or guitars. I think that in some cases, electronics can help bands, but in others they hurt them. Yesterday one of the contests we went to, I forget which band it was, had their guitars, etc. so loud you couldn't hear the band at all. It was just annoying.

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When I was in band our keyboard was hidden in the drum major podium. It was used to boost the bass in the low brass, not for vocal effects or guitars. I think that in some cases, electronics can help bands, but in others they hurt them. Yesterday one of the contests we went to, I forget which band it was, had their guitars, etc. so loud you couldn't hear the band at all. It was just annoying.

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Electronics can definitely enhance a program but I guess I am an old school music educator (& I'm not that old). When you go to your next marching band contest really, really exam how much of the 6-7 minute show is music anymore, especially in the winds. In other words, look at how often the show revolves around synth, percussion breaks, and body movements. When the winds do finally play it is usually 8th note driven ostinatos or major chords...kind of sad. That's why I am excited when someone puts Rock Point Holiday, Rossini, or Malaguena on the field. I wish the activity was still about music and not so much about effect and visual.

 

If we're going to make our students do this for months and months why not challenge the winds musically? Not trying to stir up a big fuss here or calling out any particular band program, just pointing out some facts. It's happening in the DCI world as well.

 

I agree with the posts from earlier. Electronics can really be annoying when the equipment malfunctions or it is no balanced correctly (e.g. synth covers up a wind soloist, etc).

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I think electronic instruments are okay in moderation.

(Our show is more synth and guitar heavy than in the past)

 

Didn't they just start allowing electronic stuff in DCI recently?

 

But yes, sometimes it's too much and can become overpowering.

Edited by Pickle-Oh!
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Electronics can definitely enhance a program but I guess I am an old school music educator (& I'm not that old). When you go to your next marching band contest really, really exam how much of the 6-7 minute show is music anymore, especially in the winds. In other words, look at how often the show revolves around synth, percussion breaks, and body movements. When the winds do finally play it is usually 8th note driven ostinatos or major chords...kind of sad. That's why I am excited when someone puts Rock Point Holiday, Rossini, or Malaguena on the field. I wish the activity was still about music and not so much about effect and visual.

 

If we're going to make our students do this for months and months why not challenge the winds musically?

 

The activity is still about music, though I will admit that visual and effect are now more equal partners than they used to be. The kind of shows you're talking about, with boring, unchallenging wind parts are basically a marching band form of bluffing. Sometimes it works well enough at local shows, perhaps it will even get you out of your Region and into Semifinals... but at the highest levels, it just doesn't work. Look at the various class champions last year and tell me which of them had an unchallenging wind book. Williamstown? Bourbon? Madisonville? And it's not just the champions, it's all of the serious contenders. Effect judges see through the ostinatos and power chords pretty quickly. If you want to play with the big boys, you've still got to play.

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Playing is playing whether it Rocky Point or Snoop Dog. The quality of sound must not be compromiseed. If you are using electronics in band, you are using all the timbres available to you. More and more you see the use of electronics in the concert setting and it is a good thing. so much of what we the "ole school" say that there is not "real" music in Marching band and it's just a bunch of ostinato's well, everytime I hear John Macky's music I think "this sounds like rap for band" a bunch of ostinatos. So to say that bands don't paly real music anymore is not really true.

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Since I played tuba, I'm not crazy about the idea of synths or guitars replacing instruments, especially in the lower registers. I understand if it's unavoidable because a band has no tuba player or something like that, but I think that's cheating, or very close to it, if a band uses synth to boost sound production in a section that is underbalanced. Where do we draw the line between that and just setting up four or five synths and having those play while a group of kids does dance moves and acrobatics? Granted, that's a very extreme case, but it has to be taken into account.

 

Personally, I don't mind the way Grant County is doing it this year, for example. I agree that, as long as it's tastefully done and doesn't cause more problems than it's worth, it's fine.

 

Edit to make better sense.

Edited by Tim
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Since I played tuba, I'm not crazy about the idea of synths or guitars replacing instruments, especially in the lower registers. I understand if it's unavoidable because a band has no tuba player or something like that, but I think that's cheating, or very close to it, if a band uses synth to boost sound production in a section that is underbalanced. Where do we draw the line between that and just setting up four or five synths and having those play while a group of kids does dance moves and acrobatics? Granted, that's a very extreme case, but it has to be taken into account.

It's not cheating due to the fact that it's easier to stand and play a bass guitar through a sound system than it is to march around a 30 pound sousaphone. If you have no tuba players, and you have a person who wants to play bass but can't march, and can't play tuba. Then I say why not. (I have marched sousaphone, and I'm playing bass this year.) I'm probably one of the very few people that have been on both sides of the spectrum.

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I'm for bands making use of all the musical tools at their disposal . . . in theory, at least. In practice I wouldn't mind it if I never heard electronics on the field again. When it's done well, it can be fantastic. But when it's bad it's really bad. And much of the time it is bad: Goofy sound effects and cheesy instrument patches played on a cheap keyboard and amplified with an ancient sound system on its last legs. Or, worse, you might have a group with a full brass section using their keyboard to "fill out" the sound. Unless you're tiny, don't do it.

 

Same with narration and voice acting on the field (except that the problem is ten times worse). Good on the rare occasion it's done well, embarrassing when it's done poorly.

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I do agree with it being annoying when they malfunction. But here are my points for liking them.

 

1. A Synth adds more color and can produce sounds that most instruments cant. I understand it when people don't like them if your using the bass on it trying to produce more bass, because you just need to recruit more if you can't produce the bass that you need or pick a show that isn't as bass heavy. But if you're using it for say the string sounds or some kind of future-ific sounds, then I say go for it if it adds to the show. If you need string sounds, how are you going to get that unless you put a full orchestra on the field?

 

2. If it's not to compensate for the lack of sound, and it's to add to the effect of the sound. Also if it adds to the show, if you're marching is slow and eary, then the best thing to do in that situation is have an eary synthesizer part going with it. So that way, the people on the field cannot only get into it, but they can ALL do the visual without leaving out a couple because they are playing. Adding to the visual effect scores. (Thanks to Calvin on facebook for this)

 

3. Pit percussion, synthesizers, and bass guitars add so much more to a marching band. As well as putting mics onto horns the amplify their sound. There's more to marching band than picking up a horn, marching it and putting on a good show nowadays. You have to impress, not just be good. When you have that amplified sound in your music, and if you can make the marching fit around it, then you have a very good thing circulating in your band. (Thanks to Calvin on facebook for this)

 

4. I don't understand why people complain about them sometimes, I mean, nobody complained when Calloway used the Wind Controller. Electronics are a part of the modern world and they are becoming a part of everyday life. Why not pull them into marching band? You can go so much farther with shows these days with Synthesizers, Guitars, Bass Guitars than you could say, in 1992 when it was still mostly ALL winds, guard, and percussion and no electronics.

 

So, in turn, I enjoy them in a show IF you can pull them off and work them into your theme. But if a full song is nothing but an electronic, then that takes away from the "sport" or "club", which ever your preference is.

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I absolutely love the use of amplification. It has been used for a while with soloists, but now I get a thrill being able to hear the Sideline Percussion section in a big stadium because all the marimbas and vibes have a microphone. I LOVE IT!

 

I am usually okay with voiceovers and other electronics, but I get really annoyed if they are overused or done poorly.

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Electronics are great when used tastefully in conjunction with the music, not as a gimmick. It is, however, very frustrating when a band/corps equipment malfunctions and makes horrid noises. At DCI quarters this year, Phantom's synth was scratching and screeching for the whole first movement... really took away from the overall effect.

 

Now I'm going to get up on my soapbox right here and say that electronics, if not used tastefully, can go horribly wrong. I'm talking about the shows that go like this:

 

1. Narration with drill.

2. Park and blast.

3. Narration with drill.

4. Park and blast.

5. Repeat until the show ends.

 

On and on for ten minutes a la '07 and '08 Cadets. Basically, I think electronics are great, when they are used to SUPPORT the band/corps. When it reverses, and the band is used as a means to support the electronics, that's when it goes bad.

Now, as far as GOOD use of electronics go, check out the 2010 Cavies and Bluecoats. Thats how synths should be used!

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Electronics are great when used tastefully in conjunction with the music, not as a gimmick. It is, however, very frustrating when a band/corps equipment malfunctions and makes horrid noises. At DCI quarters this year, Phantom's synth was scratching and screeching for the whole first movement... really took away from the overall effect.

 

Now I'm going to get up on my soapbox right here and say that electronics, if not used tastefully, can go horribly wrong. I'm talking about the shows that go like this:

 

1. Narration with drill.

2. Park and blast.

3. Narration with drill.

4. Park and blast.

5. Repeat until the show ends.

 

On and on for ten minutes a la '07 and '08 Cadets. Basically, I think electronics are great, when they are used to SUPPORT the band/corps. When it reverses, and the band is used as a means to support the electronics, that's when it goes bad.

Now, as far as GOOD use of electronics go, check out the 2010 Cavies and Bluecoats. Thats how synths should be used!

Kinda sounds like Adair County this year. No offense to Adair, but the recording at the beginning and your show as a whole is not impressive to me. Narration, then a HUGE blast.

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It's not cheating due to the fact that it's easier to stand and play a bass guitar through a sound system than it is to march around a 30 pound sousaphone. If you have no tuba players, and you have a person who wants to play bass but can't march, and can't play tuba. Then I say why not. (I have marched sousaphone, and I'm playing bass this year.) I'm probably one of the very few people that have been on both sides of the spectrum.

 

30? Try 45 pounds but feels like a 1000 when you're tired. Lol.

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Here is what I think about Adair vs. Bourbon on this years narration.

 

Adair has higher quality narration by far.

The inflection which the you lady uses is very convincing and I couldn't ask for much better.

Well, it could be better, but I think she does really well.

 

Bourbon's narration is not as well done.

They don't really sound convincing in most parts.

The girl is better than the guy, or at least she is so far.

The weather dude was pretty decent, lol.

They will probably get better at this...

 

But...

 

Bourbon county's narration is much better integrated into the show and allows for more playing.

There is a bit too much for me in Adair's show.

That's just my opinion though...

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Actually Adair this year is a shining example of everything that is awesome about electronics and how they can be used effectively.

 

I'm sure that's what you meant.

 

It's all opinion. I'm actually very much on Calvin's side, I feel like their narration is excessive, and unnecessary. I also think Adair does just fine without the voices :)

 

(Edited to make more sense)

Edited by mikespeed
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I thought this topic was pretty enjoyable about ten years ago when it first came up.

 

Electronics can add almost limitless variation of sounds and timbres that we are used to hearing. Anything that can make the activity grow and become more interesting has got to be a positive. Why would he want to hamper the creativity and imagination that the smart folks can produce by shunning the tools that make them so special?

 

Really though, do we need another high school playing a watered down version of The Planets or Carmen, when there is so much more out there?

 

Standard rule of this board, there are certain topics that are rehashed every year.

 

Electronics/Voiceovers

Judging

Performance Order importance

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I was trying not to over exaggerate. Haha.

 

I'm not over exaggerating. Me and my best friend switched over to Sousa our senior year. We weighed them and they came out at 45.3 pounds.

 

I'm going to agree to disagree. Adair 2010 will go down as one of the finest shows in Ky Marching band history, right there with Etown 97 and Harrison County 99.

 

Speaking of those bands, where is that Favorite show ever thread??

 

I agree, their voice overs are pretty good. It's not nonsense like some shows. Some shows try to pull off the voice overs and it can be a real drag to sit through, especially when you get the monotone voice overs. Lol. Harrison County 99 was FANTASTIC!

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