Drumline, new at BCHS
The Bay City High School band program has introduced a new program this year: drumline. Robert Packer, Bay City Junior High band director, leads this exciting new performance group.
Packer has prior experience with drumlines, and explained that drumline is a percussion ensemble done theatrically. The drumline consists of only percussion instruments such as drums and keyboards. “It’s anything you can hit, basically,” Packer said.
The percussion ensemble’s contest performance piece must be from four to six minutes in length. Packer said that the ensemble’s show theme is “dreams.” He explained the piece starts with the concept of insomnia, develops further into a fantasy dream state, and moves finally to a nightmare. Musically, the piece begins with a sound reminiscent of an old clock chiming midnight. Then there is a lullaby sound incorporated into the insomniac stage, and the drums represent the activity of the brain, stirring the emotions of not being able to sleep. The piece finally moves into loud, dissonant, aggressive sounds of the nightmare.
The BCHS drumline is competing this contest season under the Winter Guard International (WGI) guidelines and in the Texas Color Guard Circuit.
Drumlines, or marching percussion ensembles, are evaluated at contest in three major areas: General Effect, 40%; Performance Analysis, 40%; and Visual, 20%.
General effect criteria include all the musical and visual elements in the presentation that combine to display an effective and entertaining program. Successful communication of the ensemble’s identity and message through the tasteful blend of creativity and performance are scored, as well as the performer’s ability to connect with the audience. The music drives the visual in creating an effective presentation.
Performance analysis is the demonstration of percussion excellence by the ensemble both collectively and individually. Performance excellence is based on musical, rhythmic, and physical demands on the performers. Criteria include orchestration, clarity of intent, simultaneous responsibilities, sound production, musicianship, rhythmic clarity, uniformity and ensemble cohesiveness.
The visual score analyzes and credits the visual design based upon the illustration of the musical ideas presented by the ensemble. The visual composition must be “realized” by the ensemble both individually and collectively. Music “drives” the visual. Performers must display visual skills accurately, clearly and cohesively as required by the composition.
According to WGI, their philosophy is that they exist “fundamentally for its participants: youth, staff, and supporters. WGI contributes to the cultural responsibilities held by all deserving youth activities. WGI is committed to inspire its participants to achieve ever higher and higher standards. We ascribe to the concept that artistic, aesthetic and creative standards are important, but inspiration must be balanced with the primary need of providing recognition and dignity for all participants. WGI accepts the quest for wholesome experience for all despite the dilemmas inherent in the conflicting needs to create higher standards yet ensure respect for all. WGI has chosen competition as its method for organizing youth activities in pursuit of high standards of achievement, maintaining that competition is only the means, subject to whatever controls are necessary to serve the true end: the participants. WGI is organized and administered on the principle that its leaders are professionals teaching by example both in and out of the competitive arena.”
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