Drum Corps International
The Multikey debate

The Multikey debate

by Drum Corps International

By Andy Dittrich
Capital Sound
dittrich@uiuc.edu
Drum Corps fan and hopeful William Bargeron wrote to me regarding the multikey brass instruments:

Andy Dittirch, mulling over the multikey issue in Jacksonville.
"I guess I could be without some vital knowledge that has allowed so many to accept this move, or abandonment as I see it. But as a current marching member, does the topic ever come up? Is it really any concern for anyone anymore? I know you're center snare and I know it's been a few years but, it still doesn't sit very well with me. Not that my opinion is the cornerstone of DCI's decisionmaking structure, but that's just what I think. You know, I wonder how many people were upset after SCV came on the field in 1980 with asymmetric drill leading to an end of symmetrical drill? I figure, well if I'm going to mention my thoughts about today's changes I might as well keep in mind all the other changes that have taken place in DCI." I'm always awfully hesitant to make comments on such a touchy subject. However, we're a couple years past the decision, and it seems like things have settled a little. I was indeed very skeptical of the decision to allow multikeyed, or the colloquial, "B-flat" horns into the activity. I come from a very strong drum corps background, with both my parents being former marching members, and being either an observer or a member for the past 18 years. So I sat down in the stands in College Park, Md., in 2000, curious to see what these multikey horns had to offer. I saw the corps that used them that season, and instantly fell in love with the concept.
Some drum corps diehards will blow me off right now, I know it, but I swear you can tell the difference. The intonation is so much better, and to me, a snare drummer mind you, the sound is so much warmer, and due to the improved intonation, louder. Maybe I will get some response from some brass players on this, because I really have no concept on the quality of the instrument, and if they play better or worse. All I can say is that I find that I noticed a difference that season between the corps playing the new horns, and the corps still using G horns. Regarding the challenge in moving from a normal instrument in band to playing a different horn in drum corps, I will agree with a comment that Mr. Bargeron makes, in that it takes away a bit of that identity. However, there are a good amount of people that I imagine would not march drum corps due to that very reason, that are now broadening our activity, and therefore spreading the uniqueness and identity that drum corps maintains. I suppose that the activity will evaluate itself again some years from now, and see if all these changes were worth it. But right now, with the amount of growth in the activity that I have observed over the past five years, it has definitely been worth it. Drum corps will grow as long as we continue to make changes that fuel the activity. I definitely think that there are some changes that would drain the activity of its identity, thus taking away some of its energy. Hopefully, the adjustments we make will continue to make drum corps a more high-profile, and more exciting activity. Project: The Drum Corps Complaint Dept.
dittrich@uiuc.edu Andy Dittrich is the center snare drummer for Capital Sound, and is a fifth-year member of the corps. He attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is studying English. Project archives

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