And it’s not just because I’m a band fag, either.
First of all, Drum and Bugle corps basically represent the pinnacle of the marching & music “medium”.
I’m not about to call it a sport, like competitve cheerleaders do. It’s an activity.
But an activity that takes a great deal of skill, coordination and athleticism. Which I totally respect.
To anyone who doesn’t understand this, I invite them to tote a brass instrument around a football field (bell to the pressbox) in the dead of summer dressed head to toe in polyester while playing symphonic music (dynamically and in tune) while simultaneously keeping your upper body still during movements (sometimes involving running) to 130+ exact memorized locations on a sparsely marked field while performing additional body and horn motions along the way.
I was never in better shape than the summer I marched with the Cavaliers.
But this isn’t why I love it.
Drum Corps also represent programmed synesthesia to me. At a show you not only get to hear good music, but you get to see shapes, patterns, and bursts of color.
But this isn’t why I love it either.
Corps also continually introduce me to new composers and new pieces of music. I’d never heard the Planets before the Cavaliers performed them.
And thanks to the Blue Devils I fell in love with Don Ellis, Chick Corea, and Stan Kenton.
Cadets brought me Bernstein. SCV? Copland. The list goes on and on.
This year the Cavies introduced me to Johann deMeij and “Extreme Makeover”. I had to make an mp3 from Youtube just to get a recording!
But this isn’t why I love drum corps either.
I love Drum Corps because they deliver those perfect brass choir moments that make my heart stop beating.
80 brass instruments, in tune and playing a major chord at full volume. But with absolute sound transparancy. Perfectly balanced bottom to top.
Sometimes so well in tune that you hear harmonics.
The sound hits you like tsunami of fog- completely engulfing you it it’s glory.
And the wall of sound doesn’t relent– it grows and swells and pushes and it’s so gorgeous and wonderful that you think your heart is going to pop.
And then the corps rips the sound away. A precision cutoff that sends the chord careening about the stadium and caroming off into the distance.
Then the chord gets reflected back off of distant buildings and trees and hills and you get one last shadow taste of the perfection.
I think those that “get” drum corps will completely understand the moment I have described.
And those that haven’t experienced a moment like this– well, I truly hope you get to. Or at the very least something similar.
And THAT is why I love drum corps… And always will.