Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 1978 Kilties

Spotlight of the Week: 1978 Kilties

by Michael Boo


1978 Kilties
The 1978 DCI World Championships Prelims returned for the second year to the University of Colorado's Folsom Stadium in Boulder, with the Finals revisiting Denver's Mile High Stadium. Santa Clara Vanguard won its third DCI title in '78, outscoring Phantom Regiment by just a tenth of a point, and two corps made the Finals for the first time including the second-year Spirit of Atlanta and the third-year North Star. It was also the last year that the Kilties made the Finals. The corps had been a finalist the first four years of DCI's existence and again in 1977 after recovering from a 28th-place finish in 1976. The corps shocked fans in February of 1978 by announcing that they were opening their doors to females after 43 years as an all-male corps, leaving the Cavaliers and Madison Scouts as the only all-male DCI corps. The corps' 12th-place show started with an upbeat jazzy arrangement of "My Favorite Things" originally set by Larry Kerchner for the 1973 and 1974 Bridgemen. The Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II song originated in the 1959 Broadway musical, "The Sound of Music," and achieved greater popularity when Julie Andrews sang it in the big budget 1965 film of the same name. Of interest to musicologists is that the first 22 notes of the melody utilize only the first, second and fifth notes of the scale—Do, Re and So, the latter also heard in the lower octave. Rodgers created entirely different musical sensations repeatedly using these same notes in both major and minor keys.
The next piece in the show was the percussion feature of "Battle Cry," the second movement from Gino Vannelli's six-movement "War Suite" off his 1976 album, "The Gist of the Gemini." This fourth studio album by Vannelli was known for its extensive use of overdubbing—recording many tracks of music over one another to create a rich depth of sounds. While this doesn't sound like that great of a feat, it should be noted that at the time, synthesizers were still monophonic, meaning they could produce just one note at a time. Crude polyphonic (many notes at one time) synthesizers were soon to hit the market, but Vannelli didn't yet enjoy that luxury. The entire Kilties horn line accompanied the color guard utilizing swing flags, which made it one of the earlier uses of an extended guard section. At the end, the rifle bearers went to the front of the field and pulled up a long banner on each side of the 50, behind which they put on white pants for the next selection. Freddie Mercury's "Seaside Rendezvous" came off Queen's 1975 "A Night at the Opera" album. At the time, it was the most expensive album ever produced and perhaps most remembered for introducing "Bohemian Rhapsody." The song is most often remembered for Mercury and band drummer Roger Taylor re-creating the sound of a variety of woodwind and brass instruments with their voices, and for creating a tap dance effect by using thimbles on their fingers. The Kilties color guard—now in the white pants—performed a comic vaudeville routine in the spirit of the original.

1978 Kilties
During the corps' standstill section, members played a medley of Carlos Santana works from two different albums. "Everybody's Everything" came off the 1971 album that is now commonly known as "Santana III." The song featured the horn section from Tower of Power which was the first time Santana utilized guest musicians. The second tune in the medley was "Se a Cabo" (translated as "It's Over"), from Santana's 1970 second studio album, "Abraxas." Leading into the closer, a short rendition of "Scotland the Brave," the patriotic Scottish melody most often heard performed by bagpipes, re-created the sound of bagpipes with the low two-pitch drone that gives bagpipes such a distinctive sound. This led directly into the corps' trademark closer, "Auld Lang Syne," a slow ballad the corps first performed in 1960. The following year, the Kilties slipped to 32nd place at the DCI World Championships, then 49th place in 1981. After one more season, placing 35th in DCI Class A competition, the corps disbanded, returning more than a decade later as an all-age corps.

For this week only, you can save on the Legacy Collection DVD that contains this complete Kilties performance, along with all finalists from the 1978 DCI World Championships.

Buy the 1978 Legacy Collection DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.)

1978 Overview

Discount DVD offer ends Monday, Sept 22, 2014.
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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