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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Evolution Of Sounds - Marching Bands

Since I am feeling sicky today. And I came across something I use to have so much passion in it. Marching bands. So, taking my time to do some research on the topic since I was staying in tonight. So, what I am focusing on are the bands in Malaysia in general.

Walking down memory lane, I still remember the first time we participate on the national arena in 1997. Till today, we could see that the evolution of the bands through time. But sadly, there are many who are still stuck in the yester years. In recent years, I believe many still think that a group of bands in Malaysia are monopolying the competition stage. But my question is, Is it all because some judges are being bought? Sometimes, when I look at the comments on those videos on YouTube, it is really sad. Honestly, there are so much potential in many bands in Malaysia. Big or small. Some schools have the funding but what makes it sad are people who refuses to change through time.

As the years passes, we now could see marching bands with the introduction of color guards and also the use of pit percussion. Drum-lines  Foot works and formations are getting sharper and interesting. But the question still lies why there are only those group has always been on top of the podium. So, putting things in the perspective one by one.


I think many of those out there are still relatively confuse when it comes to this part. Just one simple question. What are good sounds? Many people don't really realize sounds are the soul to a band. Making sound is easy. But making good sounds is tough. But to achieve good sounds is relatively quite easy to be honest. Polishing up the basics. I still remember there is a statement made by my band instructor when I was still in school. There are many bands wanted to introduce color guards into the competition in the late 90s. And he snap at that statement with this. 
Color guard??? Make sure that the color tone isn't crap then we shall talk about color guard.
Those band like Sultanah Asma Marching Band and Keat Hwa Marching Band spent years and years polishing basics. What they are lucky off is having a band director to know where are the bands heading to. Choosing of songs. In terms of choosing songs, it isn't about what songs are nicer when we listen to the demo pieces before purchasing. Many things needed to put into consideration. Are the members able to achieve on how the songs were suppose to be. It isn't about what songs are greater or how high the solo might be. What really reflects on whole is how to create that effect with the sounds are played.

Many wonder why that many bands overseas, high schools, universities, and professional bodies like DCI are way crazier in terms of sound. But when we look at how they do it. It all comes back to basics. How to make sounds that portray grandeur? How to make sounds that feels like attacking? How to make the whole band sounded fierce? All these effects comes from tone color. And also part of it from arrangements of the songs. But putting back into view, these band shows what it takes to evolve and also not just being national champions but also world champions. Choose the right Repertoire and theme.

Color Guard

In a marching band or a drum and bugle corps, the colorguard is a non-musical section that provides additional visual aspects to the performance. The marching band and colorguard performance generally takes place on a football field. They perform alongside the marching band. 

The purpose of the colorguard is to interpret the music that the marching band or drum and bugle corps is playing via the synchronized spinning of flags, sabres, rifles, the air blade, and through dance. The color guard uses different colors and styles of flags like swing flags and tapered flags to enhance the visual effect of the marching band as a whole. Color guard also may use backdrops to bring color and scenery to the field if the concept of the show is hard to interpret. The number of members in a colorguard can range from a single person to over 20 members. This is often dependent on the size of the band, school or corps, the allotted budget, and the talent available among the potential members who try out.

Since the guard is the a visual component the performance, often the uniforms, flag design, or costumes match the theme of the tunes the band plays. But bare in mind that Colorguards has to be part of the show. Not just a show of it's own. Many bands have the potential to side track. Colorguards are meant to enhance the visual effect of the whole show in general. But what sadly happens to many bands around is they are just sidelines just to get extra marks or points.

Pit Percussion 

In a marching band, the front ensemble or pit is the stationary percussion ensemble. This ensemble is typically placed in front of the field, though some groups will work the front ensemble into a tight pod onto the marching field.

The main emphasis of the pit in a band style groups are the mallet instruments: marimba, vibraphone, bells and xylophone.

Pit members will sometimes operate auxiliary equipment such as props, either inside or outside of the pit area. In indoor drumline, the front ensemble may not necessarily be placed at the front as the name suggests. The show designers place the pit where it would be most effective for the show. 

General Effects

So, this is the interesting part of the whole topic. What does this topic mean. I guess this is where things goes wrong. Whenever it comes to general effects, many were confused about how does this work actually. Lemme put it into the most simple way. Adding all the aspects above into one. With the formations, foot works, sounds, drumline, colorguards, and pit percussion to create the whole show. How to make the whole show interesting. What I realize over the years, supporters goes by the team. Of course I am not denying I have my own picks, but I am objective somehow. In general, to me no matter who are my favorites, I still wish that the best win.

But how could this be determine? Yes in the years of competition, there are years where unfair judging happened. But yet, competitions are always objective. I guess no matter what are the competitions or works done in any aspect, it happens. But sometimes, we have to bare this in mind. To have a healthy competition and a longer life span in these arena, we have to move forward. Not looking back on how we actually were in years back. Many refuses to change and many doesn't have the funding towards this field. It is sad sometimes to see many potential good bands to die off year by year.

I guess for bands to survive, we really need to put our heads together. So many potentials and so many that could be great contender of the top podium. Guess that we have to put down our outer ego and move forward. Music should be a tool to bring unity not hatred. No matter who the winners are, may the best wins. I am looking forward to 2013 Sultanah Asma production. Just a little hint.. A land where lions exist. My imaginations are running wild. Time for me to sleep. Nitey Y'all, and sorry for posting such boring topic. :P


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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
Eric believe what Eric says~ Cuz Eric is God~