The 1984 Drum Corps International World Championship events were originally scheduled to return to Miami, however, various factors spurred DCI to move to Georgia Tech’s Grant Field instead.
The first-place Garfield Cadets repeated as Champion by scoring just a tenth over the Blue Devils, giving the corps 76 wins over two consecutive seasons. The corps’ magical company front at the end of its “West Side Story” production caught fans by surprise, no matter how many times it was seen.
California's Velvet Knights made their first appearance as a finalist corps, while The Cavaliers finished in eighth place, the corps’ highest placement since the 1977 season.
The corps’ show opened with the swashbuckling fanfare from “Don Juan,” a tone poem written by Richard Strauss in 1888. With the hire of future DCI Hall of Fame members Tim Salzman and Jim Campbell, this year’s production was the first salvo in the corps’ transition to a more symphonic sound. It was a path that would lead The Cavaliers into its first-ever top-three position just two years later.
Next the corps transitioned to American composer Dave Grusin’s “Summer Sketches ’82,” which was written for his 1982 album, “Dave Grusin and the NY-LA Dream Band.” The piece started out rather subdued, with quietly soaring long brass chords. This is a technique the corps would perfect over the next several years as they learned to pull the audience forward before pushing them back into the last row of seats. Halfway through, the tune turned up the heat and became quite jazzy and rhythmically peppy.
The metrically challenging percussion feature, “Ozark,” was co-written by guitarist Pat Metheny and keyboardist Lyle Mays for their “As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls” album of 1981. This was one of those works easiest to march to if one just kept plowing through it, as it seemed the meter was hard to pin down and the downbeat shifted almost at will.
Members of the corps’ horn line came to the front sideline to pick up four long banners that stretched a total of 70 yards, the colors slowly evolving about every five yards to fill in the evolution of a color wheel.
And it was during this piece that fans got a close look at the double bass drum contraption carried by a percussionist so that five drummers could play on six bass drums.
The Green Machine’s closer started with Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of the Villa Borghese,” the first of the four-movement “Pines of Rome” suite of 1924. The second part of the closer was “Pines of the Appian Way,” the final and fourth movement from the suite.
The color guard section’s red flags from the first movement of the suite were eventually released from the bottom of the poles to suddenly present much larger flags. On the last loud, sustained chord of the show, the performers picked up additional large red flags that were set at their side to fill the field with double flags.
It was a most gloriously blatant effect that gave a hint of the type of memorable moments that would tantalize and enthrall fans in the corps’ productions of the late 1980s and into the new millennium.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years 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, Indiana.