Drum Corps International
Five great percussion moments in DCI history

Five great percussion moments in DCI history

by Michael Boo

In celebration of this week's WGI Percussion World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, I was asked to repeat what I did with color guards in last week's Fanfare. Read "Five great DCI color guard moments." That column generated a whole lot of love from fans who unanimously agreed with my personal selections, prompting the United Nations to issue a proclamation honoring me for finding a common ground among people, uniting us all in the spirit of universal brotherhood. So here, in no particular order, are five percussion moments from the DCI World Championships that rung my bell, and sometimes, struck my chime as well.

1991 Cavaliers

This is a short clip demonstrating the essence of primal drumming … pounding bass drums, pounding everything. The idea was to get the blood flowing in the stands and there was no one in the audience whose blood pressure dropped during this interlude. The Cotton Bowl stands vibrated with each beat of the drums during this feature. If you like your drumming loud, this will turn your crank.

1991 Cavaliers

1984 Santa Clara Vanguard

On the flipside of the above effect, in 1984, Santa Clara Vanguard's Ralph Hardimon decided to turn the idea of a percussion feature upside-down. What was so captivating and radical about this feature was that the volume stayed quite low. The entire production was transparent, exquisite and fragile. Rather than push you back in your seat, it pulled the fans forward in rapt attention. I don't think we've ever had such a moment since.

1984 Santa Clara Vanguard

1988 Bluecoats

In the corps' second year as a DCI World Class Finalist, "Autumn Leaves" returned from the year before, this time as a closer to the production. To put an exclamation mark on the show, during the drum feature, there were suddenly 20 snares on the field. The line was still developing in maturity, as evidenced by an 11th place finish in the percussion caption that was on par with the corps' 11th place finish. No one in the stands cared: THERE WERE 20 SNARES ON THE FIELD!!! How cool is that?

1988 Bluecoats

2000 Blue Devils

Rarely does a front ensemble steal the show in the manner that the pit in Blue Devils' 2000 "Methods of Madness" production did. A unison mallet feature that kept accelerating increasingly faster right up to the final climax was then released by a color guard toss, always generating a massive response from the audience. This was a perfect blend of technique, musicianship and showmanship. Some people said the audience was cheering for the guard work behind the pit. Those of us who played mallet keyboards in drum corps know better.

2000 Blue Devils

1983 Bridgemen

If I (and many others) was asked to mention just one moment that thoroughly captivated an audience, I believe I would be enthusiastically backed up on my selection of this clip of the 1983 Bridgemen. Even though the line didn't have the stellar year scoring-wise as it did when it won the percussion caption the previous three years in a row, this is the performance fans remember for the snare drummers pulling down blindfolds in the repeat of "Black Market Juggler" from the year before. Bridgemen drum arranger/instructor Dennis DeLucia later said, "[It was] a second year for "Black Market Juggler" — this time with blindfolds! The reaction to the solo at the August [home] show in Bayonne, N.J., and at World Championships in Miami, was overwhelming! The standing ovation in Miami lasted a full minute! What a goose-bump moment, embedded in our memories forever."

1983 Bridgemen


Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.

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