Drum Corps International
Happy 30th anniversary Drum Corps International

Happy 30th anniversary Drum Corps International

by Drum Corps International

Happy 30th Drum Corps InternationalFor 30 years, Drum Corps International has served as the governing board, the support organization, the contest promoter and the heart of drum corps tradition. Yet competitive drum corps history began some 30 years before the first Drum Corps International Championship in Whitewater, Wis., on August 18, 1972. Prior to the formation of Drum Corps International, drum corps competed in different circuits and abided by different rules. They had little or no control over how contest revenues were raised and distributed, recording of their endeavors were sold often with no profits going back to the corps and organizing summer tours were logistical nightmares. More notably, there was no centralized support network for the corps, their members and their fans.To address the needs of junior drum and bugle corps, in the fall of 1971 five managers from the East's United Organization of Junior Corps (27th Lancers, Garfield Cadets, Boston Crusaders, Blessed Sacrament and Blue Rock), and five from the Midwest "Combine" (The Cavaliers, Troopers, Blue Stars, Madison Scouts and Santa Clara Vanguard) were joined by three more corps (Anaheim Kingsmen, Argonne Rebels and DeLasalle Oaklands) to form Drum Corps International.Thanks to this fruitful meeting during the American Legion Rules Conference in Indianapolis, junior drum and bugle corps now compete nationwide under the same set of rules and with the support of an organization established exclusively for the purpose of promoting the activity around the world and ensuring that the tradition of drum corps lives on.When we speak of tradition in drum corps, we often speak in terms of commonality and collectivity. Each corps develops its own sense of tradition and fans often catch a glimpse of that on and off the field. We recall emblems such as the Troopers' trademark "sunburst," the Madison Scouts' "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the Boston Crusaders' "Conquest." We remember the 27th Lancers' "Danny Boy" and Santa Clara Vanguard's "Bottle Dance."Yet even more elements of tradition suggest that each corps competing in a Drum Corps International event shares many traditions that cross corps lines. National flags and corps "colors" may have moved from center stage, to the corner of the field, and are now eventually reserved only for the final retreat, yet they remind us that drum corps is seated in a strong sense of local and national pride. Instrumentation may have changed from simple bugles to one, then two, then three valve horns of all sizes; yet their design has only kept up to both accommodate and challenge the abilities of the musicians on the field. Percussion has gone from restrictions such as a maximum amount of beats per minute, to allowing almost anything on the field (short of electronic amplification) so that corps may produce the sound they want and the effect they desire. Color guards have gone from being standstill protectors of the flag to an essential and integral element of the design process, challenging performers to reach beyond their equipment to touch the hearts of fans.When we speak of tradition in drum corps, we also speak in terms of excellence and innovation. The measure of excellence has undoubtedly evolved over the years but in theory, it has remained the same. Excellence in this activity is not only being as close as possible to the mark of perfection, it is pushing that mark of excellence further and further each year so that we never become comfortable with the status quo. Innovation has become the responsibility of designers as they redefine expectations and give fans a new occasion to gasp in awe or leap up in overwhelming appreciation.Finally, when we speak of tradition in drum corps, we must always speak in terms of the experience it provides for the young performers who sacrifice their weekends, their summers, the comforts of a soft bed, air conditioning and home cooking, all to perfect their art and provide fans with a chance to share in the thrill of drum corps. Asked why they march, members of today as well as those of yesterday undoubtedly speak in terms of honor and pride; they live for the challenge of reaching higher with each day and are almost addicted to the thrill that accompanies attaining their goals. While they love to perform, it is the learning they acquire, the skills they perfect, the confidence they achieve and the friendships they develop that will live within them for the rest of their lives.It is the performers' drum corps experience that we support with each passing year, each competition and each chance we have to show them our support and appreciation. For that reason, Drum Corps International was founded and still exists, making certain that the tradition of the experience lives on for years to come. The SUMMER MUSIC GAMES 2002 World Championship marks 30 years of commitment to our youth, the 30th Anniversary of an organization dedicated to giving today's young performers an education in life through drum corps.

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