The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

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The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:32 am UTC

(This one was inspired by the discussion sparked by the lovely comic #389.)

Okay, kiddies, did/do you march? Doesn't matter, marching band or drum corps. Thought it would be fun to throw together a virtual elite marching band/corps, though it would be even more awesome to do something at a meetup.

So... if you've marched before, feel free to share where/when/what.

If you're interested in being in the XSMB/DC state which (or both) and what instrument(s) and any suggestions.

Totally for fun but if anyone would ever actually want to do a meetup, I am so in.

I'll start things off:

4 yr HS marching band (trumpet)
2 yr college marching band (trumpet)
1 yr drum corps (trumpet)

That's just the simple version so feel free to go wild. ;)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Contrabass » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:58 pm UTC

I could see a meetup happening after a show. San Antonio, Bill Millers would be good, but they close before the show is over. Allentown, at the little Diner across the street from J. Birney Crum?

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Robin S » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:01 pm UTC

If you do have a marching band meetup, you have to play an arrangement of "Never Gonna Give You Up".
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Contrabass » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:34 pm UTC

Pretty improbable on tour, which would be the easiest way to do it. In the pursuit of efficiency, horns usually end up back on the equipment truck promptly... And "encores" not sanctioned by the show coordinator result in point deductions.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby wery67564 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:50 pm UTC

4 yrs HS marching
1yr(up to now) millitary marching band (coast guard)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:24 am UTC

The thought of actually meeting up on tour didn't even cross my mind, actually! ;D But it is a good idea. Unfortunately I can't march this summer (I'm studying abroad at the moment), but I will cheer for most anyone who wants me to. (I'll be at a few Ohio shows, and definitely some Indy ones, probably finals, too.)

The idea just came up over on the LJ feed that it would be fun/funny to get all the Xkcd fans who had marched before together and "make" a band... or do it at an xkcd meetup. =P

So, yeah, Rickroll at corps wouldn't happen, but at an xkcd meetup, I could definitely see it. =D
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby suso » Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:04 am UTC

Its funny to see all these people come out of the cracks to talk about DCI and BOA on XKCD.

To answer some questions:

  • Warsaw (Indiana) High School Marching Band (4 years tuba, also was in the national champion Warsaw Drumline in '94 as pit when I was a senior)
  • Glassmen D&BC 1994 Contra Bass, This was the first year of the tan and black uniforms. The technicolor ones were the year before.
  • Morehead State University (Yes, that's really the name, 2 years tuba and various other instruments as I was a music ed major there with a bunch of Bluecoat punks ;-)
  • Now I'm living in Bloomington, IN and work at Cook (as in Bill Cook) with a few Star of Indiana people. Actually, its a cool place to work because its a medical company with drum corps paraphernalia all over the place.

swglasspit - Yes, I know Kevin Gamin, we both marched in 94 and I sat close to him on the number 3 bus (can't believe I remember that). I have talked to him a few times since, I think just about 6 months ago was the last time. Cool guy, he is an instructor there now, no?

I didn't march Glassmen in '95 because I worked on a fishing boat in Alaska and when I came back to Glassmen in '96, Dan Acheson had moved onto to be the DCI Director (He really is an amazing guy and was the driving force behind Glassmen even well after he was gone). Unfortunately the writing was on the wall with the new director and I decided to focus on other things.

Its interesting actually to read the experiences of people who experienced drum corps 10 years after I did. I think its a different world. When I marched, Drum Corps was just starting to become more known to high school bands. Some people know about them before of course, but they were generally in their own world. I think one of the things Dan has been trying to do is make Drum Corps and Marching Band worlds more alike (like switching to 3 valve instruments and allowing amplification, which I thought was a mistake).

Even though they were our rivals back then, I think that the Bluecoats breaking the top 4 is quite an accomplishment and really needed to happen because its been the same top 4/5 corps for 20 years. They need some turnover/fresh ideas.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby McDutchy » Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:21 am UTC

3 years HS marching band (trombone), currently in the camp phase of my first season of drum corps (Baritone, Div III Open Class). While looking at #389, I was inspired to perform an I&E piece that rickrolls the audience. No lie. I wouldn't mind meeting with fellow xkcders after shows, but since I've never been on tour before, I'm not sure if it would be possible.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby jacjac10 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:07 am UTC

I marched at Buchholz HS for 2 years on Alto Sax and 2 years on Clarinet (I'm really an oboe player so I filled in where my director wanted me). I also did one year in a terrible winterguard in middle school. We didn't even make it to WGI finals week. Neither did the guard my instructor was in. I'm hoping to try out for a real guard for next season, but I might not have the courage to ditch school in order to spin.

Mom marched Spirit of Atlanta/Phantom and Dad did Madison/Southwind, and I've been going with them to see competitions for all of my life.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:38 am UTC

suso wrote:Its funny to see all these people come out of the cracks to talk about DCI and BOA on XKCD.


I know, it seemed like 95% of the LJ feed was band kids coming out of the cracks. It's nuts! So I was compelled to start this thread.


And to the other poster, an IE piece that rickrolled the audience would be amazing. =P
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby VTenginerd » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:20 am UTC

I marched 5 years of high school marching band (they allowed 8th graders to march--we were a small school and needed everyone we could get). In college I marched an additional 5 years in the Florida State Marching Chiefs. Chiefs was the exact opposite of my high school band. In high school we marched anywhere from about 12 people to 40 people depending on the year, while my college band is the largest (or at least one of the largest) collegiate marching bands at over 400 members. It was quite a culture shock that first year. I played trumpet in both bands.

Now I'm in grad school at Virginia Tech. I haven't joined the marching band here yet, but I am in the symphony band and if time allows I may march in fall.

An xkcd meetup would be cool. If enough people are near VA we should try to schedule something.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby NoPance » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

Marching experience:
* Junior High/HS - 6 years on tenors and snare
* College - 1 year on tenors at Virginia Tech (undergrad and grad school in computer science), 1 year Symphony Wind Ensemble
* DCI - 1 year on tenors with Tarheel Sun (a new defunct D1 line)
* WGI - 1 year on tenors with Virginia Helmsmen (PIO)

Although I play with several symphonies/bands in the Raleigh/Durham area now about all I do anymore is teach. I was the caption head for Helmsmen from 2005-2007, and I write and consult at several indoor and outdoor scholastic/independent programs in the NC/VA/WV area.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby SWGlassPit » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

Ok, my experience:

3 years HS Marching band (snare)
3 years College Marching band (1 year snare, two years tenors)
3 summers DCI (pit, 02-03 Southwind, 04 Glassmen)
5 years teaching/arranging HS pit

I wish there were more shows near where I live--at minimum, the closest show is usually a 3+ hour drive for me.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Hawkwings » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:59 pm UTC

4 years HS marching band (1 year pit, 3 years snare)
4 years indoor drumline (snare)
1 year Oregon Crusaders D+B Corps (Drum Major)

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Aperfectring » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:02 am UTC

5 years HS marching band '96-'00 (grades 8-12, trumpet)
1 year div. III drum corps '97 (soprano (trumpet for you damn kids (get off my lawn)))
1 year div. I drum corps: Bluecoats '99 (soprano)
5 years Purdue marching band '01-'05 (trumpet)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:32 pm UTC

SWGlassPit wrote:Ok, my experience:

3 years HS Marching band (snare)
3 years College Marching band (1 year snare, two years tenors)
3 summers DCI (pit, 02-03 Southwind, 04 Glassmen)
5 years teaching/arranging HS pit

I wish there were more shows near where I live--at minimum, the closest show is usually a 3+ hour drive for me.


Yeeeeah, Sdub family! =D


As for anyone who does WGI, I would encourage you to say hi to me at finals because I live in Dayton, and I usually go. But this semester I'm studying abroad, so I won't get to see anyone. =(

But I am totally up for meeting anyone who goes to shows over the summer or anything. =)

Aperfectring wrote:5 years HS marching band '96-'00 (grades 8-12, trumpet)
1 year div. III drum corps '97 (soprano (trumpet for you damn kids (get off my lawn)))
1 year div. I drum corps: Bluecoats '99 (soprano)
5 years Purdue marching band '01-'05 (trumpet)


Did you have Dr. Leppla at Purdue?
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Aperfectring » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:36 am UTC

Mercat wrote:Did you have Dr. Leppla at Purdue?


Why yes, yes I did.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:52 am UTC

Haha, rock on! He came to the University of Dayton just for last year and I rather enjoyed having him for marching band.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

Contrabass wrote:I could see a meetup happening after a show. San Antonio, Bill Millers would be good, but they close before the show is over. Allentown, at the little Diner across the street from J. Birney Crum?



xkcd meetup + collegiate marching band fest = awesome.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby ponzerelli » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:58 pm UTC

Im going on my 4th and last year of marching in HS. Baritone all three years and drum major next year. I don't really plan on trying out for DCI.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:36 pm UTC

I marched in high school for three years, playing Euphonium (which was interesting, since I'm a bass player. I'm still pretty awful at brass instruments).
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby hestia » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:56 am UTC

suso wrote:[*]Glassmen D&BC 1994 Contra Bass, This was the first year of the tan and black uniforms. The technicolor ones were the year before.

One of my good friends marched mellophone in Glassman recently, last year I think. He seemed to enjoy it.

Myself, here is my marching experience:
4 years high school, corps style (1 year flute, 2 picc, 1 drum major)
4 years college, corps style (1 year flute, 2 bagpipes, 1 clarinet)
1 year assistant band director high school level, Moffit style (hooray for relearning 8 to 5!)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby RedWolf » Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:09 am UTC

Just 3 years of high school for me, on trumpet. We march twice per year, on Labor Day and Memorial Day. Oh, and for our homecoming show during the football season, too.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby curious and questioning » Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:59 am UTC

1 year high school, another 3 to come (and as much after high school as possible), trombone

Hey, you people might know stuff that I would like to know about post-high school marching band but don't. Google isn't very helpful to me, although I could just fail at searching. I could probably ask a real person but haven't bothered.

Most colleges have non-competitive bands which change shows weekly, correct? Are there any that don't? Do drum corps meet during the summer, or in fall also, and can you do them at the same time as college if in fall? Are there trombones in any drum corps/competitive bands (this is a no, I think)? How easy is it (in your experience/do you think) to switch to baritone from trombone, with no experience on valve instruments?

In my high school, we had some summer training, and then met twice a week during the school year to polish our show and competed on weekends and/or played at football games until November. It was absolutely amazing, especially the competition finals. Since I worry too much and plan too far ahead, I'm already thinking about wanting to be able to continue marching competitively, and it would be nice to know what I can do... thanks for any response and sorry about how obvious my questions may be.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby hestia » Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:58 am UTC

I go to a small liberal arts college so our band is really super chill. We generally have three shows a season and only run in the fall. DCI doesn't seem to conflict though I only know two people who have done it.
I imagine larger schools change their shows more frequently though.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:26 am UTC

My college doesn't have any kind of marching band. This wouldn't be that unusual, except that we've also got a gigantic music school. Curious and questioning, you definitely want to make sure that schools you're looking for are going to meet your needs. Don't assume that they'll have something, because they might not.

That said, my college is awesome, and I honestly don't care that we don't have a marching band.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:12 pm UTC

curious and questioning wrote:1 year high school, another 3 to come (and as much after high school as possible), trombone

Hey, you people might know stuff that I would like to know about post-high school marching band but don't. Google isn't very helpful to me, although I could just fail at searching. I could probably ask a real person but haven't bothered.

Most colleges have non-competitive bands which change shows weekly, correct? Are there any that don't? Do drum corps meet during the summer, or in fall also, and can you do them at the same time as college if in fall? Are there trombones in any drum corps/competitive bands (this is a no, I think)? How easy is it (in your experience/do you think) to switch to baritone from trombone, with no experience on valve instruments?

In my high school, we had some summer training, and then met twice a week during the school year to polish our show and competed on weekends and/or played at football games until November. It was absolutely amazing, especially the competition finals. Since I worry too much and plan too far ahead, I'm already thinking about wanting to be able to continue marching competitively, and it would be nice to know what I can do... thanks for any response and sorry about how obvious my questions may be.


In general, I can't think of any college marching bands that are really competitive, because it would take a lot out of your schedule, but I'm from Ohio. We went to a band competition in Atlanta (think "Drumline" style), though, that had a few colleges, but that's yet another style entirely. Our band is pretty much all for fun, we do 70's-80's style collegiate/funk marching, though our local high school competitive style tends to be corps style. And our rehearsals are only a few hours three times a week plus game day, which was less than my high school (about 2 hours 4/5 days a week, plus Friday games and weekend competitions). Drum corps is generally all-day rehearsals, though. (I think senior corps are a lot different though, but I can't speak from experience.)

Drum corps starts with auditions generally at a weekend camp around Thanksgiving. Then you have monthly weekend camps for rehearsals until about mid-May, when you have "move-in". Move in is a few weeks of really learning the show, and then you go on tour and start competing all over the US. At least, this was how Southwind did it, if anyone else's experience was different feel free to fill me in ;D

There are no trombones in drum corps, but since I don't really know any competitive collegiate bands I can't speak for that. (Honestly, I can't even remember about Ohio State which is the closest thing I can think of to competitive.)

Learning a valve instrument is really easy... my high school forced all trombone players to switch to bari/euph, and if you start with writing in the fingerings and practicing the notes w/ scales and stuff it's really not that hard.

Hope that helps. ;D If you have any more questions let me know... I'm severely missing corps and marching right now, so I would be totally pumped to chat about it.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby hestia » Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:55 pm UTC

Here is the trick with bass clef Euphonium (or at least what has worked for me):
F Bflat F - open
flats (ie Eflat, Aflat) - 1
naturals (ie E, A) - 2
crazy stuff (ie sharps!) - 23

That is not going to cover everything, like C is 4 (or 1 3) and G is 1 2, and it only works in the staff. However, it is a fairly good guide when you are just trying to play off the top of your head and can't quite remember, which is all the time when I play euphonium.

I wouldn't suggest writing the valves in unless you need to perform NOW because that can become a significant crutch. I generally don't let my students do it. If you really think that way would help, I would suggest photocopying the music and writing them in on one and switching the music out once a day to wean yourself off of it.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:17 pm UTC

Re: Collegiate Marching Bands
One of my friends is at U of Delaware, and they've got a pretty serious marching band. I don't know what they do in terms of competition outside of their football games, but they are pretty gigantic and practice for several hours a day for the entire season.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Mercat » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:42 am UTC

Oh, just remembered--my college, nor any others I know of, specifically compete. However, Spirit of JSU (formerly Spirit of Atlanta) is obviously connected to Jacksonville State University, so I've heard there's a good deal of overlap there.

Also, we (University of Dayton) play at high school competitions locally, because we are a completely different style; I think we're mostly trying to entice highschoolers away from serious-competitive marching to lots-of-fun marching. ;P
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby McDutchy » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:23 am UTC

msfayzer wrote:Here is the trick with bass clef Euphonium (or at least what has worked for me):
F Bflat F - open
flats (ie Eflat, Aflat) - 1
naturals (ie E, A) - 2
crazy stuff (ie sharps!) - 23

That is not going to cover everything, like C is 4 (or 1 3) and G is 1 2, and it only works in the staff. However, it is a fairly good guide when you are just trying to play off the top of your head and can't quite remember, which is all the time when I play euphonium.

I wouldn't suggest writing the valves in unless you need to perform NOW because that can become a significant crutch. I generally don't let my students do it. If you really think that way would help, I would suggest photocopying the music and writing them in on one and switching the music out once a day to wean yourself off of it.


What I've found to be the best way to learn the valve combinations for valved brass is to learn what each valve does: the first valve lowers the pitch by 1 whole step, the second by one half step, and the third by one and a half steps. Using your brain and your knowledge of partials, you can work it out from there. Personally, my take on writing in valvings is that it's a good thing to write in the combinations if you need them to learn the music. Then, once you have learned the music, you don't really ever look at them. What happens over time is as you become more familiar with the instrument, you tend to memorize what combinations go with what notes, and have to write in valve combinations only every so often when you encounter a fast run with lots of accidentals.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Little Richie » Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:43 am UTC

Second snare at PBHS.

Woo Hoo band!

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby tCatch22 » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:38 am UTC

T-sax, 4 years HS marching band
A-sax, 2 years college, MSU SMB

So strictly speaking I couldn't do XKCD SDBC, but I could do XKCD SMB...OK?

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby curious and questioning » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:41 am UTC

On learning valved brass- I thought that fingerings kind of corresponded to slide positions? Like, first position is open, second is 2, third is 1, fourth is 1 2, fifth is 2 3, sixth is 1 3, and seventh is 1 2 3 ? maybe? I worked this out from having a trumpeter friend go through a few scales with me, so it could have been coincidence.
I will have to actually find out about this, take lessons or something, if I'm serious. I don't know- it would be nice to know how to play some other instrument with practical use, but I have no idea how important it is to me, and I don't expect it to be easy based on my experiences with piano (ack... fingers... more than one at the same time... *pause for several moments* *wrong chord* *pause again, look at disobedient fingers* *right chord*, repeat for subsequent notes)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby McDutchy » Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:55 am UTC

Curious, you've got it down. Don't worry about the finger dexterity thing, they only move in one direction. It's not really all that hard. Remember learning/figuring out how to type? If you could do that, there's no reason not to attempt valved brass. I went through the same thing in about December, when I decided I wanted to do corps. And now I'm on 1st baritone, and doing pretty well. If you practice, you will get it down very quickly.

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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby hestia » Sat Mar 08, 2008 2:20 am UTC

McDutchy wrote:What I've found to be the best way to learn the valve combinations for valved brass is to learn what each valve does: the first valve lowers the pitch by 1 whole step, the second by one half step, and the third by one and a half steps. Using your brain and your knowledge of partials, you can work it out from there. Personally, my take on writing in valvings is that it's a good thing to write in the combinations if you need them to learn the music. Then, once you have learned the music, you don't really ever look at them. What happens over time is as you become more familiar with the instrument, you tend to memorize what combinations go with what notes, and have to write in valve combinations only every so often when you encounter a fast run with lots of accidentals.


Heh, yes, that would be the correct way to do it. As a woodwind player I tend to just prefer memorizing the fingerings and let the partials come naturally.
My weirdness about writing in valves is that I have yet to have a student who wrote them in ever wean off of them. I have no doubt that they exist, but I have not met them.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby Klye » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:05 am UTC

Three years in high school - front ensemble. Usually I played timpani, but I also had xylo, vibe, and chime parts a couple times. Actually I even had a small bassoon part senior year...

I would try out for a corps (Madison Scouts FTW!) but that would take some hard core percussion practice, since last time I checked, there are no marching bassoons in drum corps.
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby SWGlassPit » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:00 am UTC

Pick up a low brass instrument. Those are usually the hardest to fill. Corps like the colts often fill their contra lines with people who got cut from the percussion section. Since you play a wind instrument already, you've got a leg up on some percussionists :)
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby tuba_king2341 » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:56 am UTC

well, my instrument is quite obvious based on my name, but i play a souzie in the MB at my high school. would be awesome to set up a DC or even just a scatter band. Or even if a group of us just ran into some random area (middle of a mall?), played a song, and ran out. of course, someone would videotape just to see ppls reactions
"Oh, I would while away the hours,
Wanking in the flowers, my heart all full of song,
I'd be gliding all the lilies as I waved about my willie,
If I only had a schlong."
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Re: The Xkcd Superelite Marching Band/Drum Corps

Postby marshlight » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:33 pm UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:Re: Collegiate Marching Bands
One of my friends is at U of Delaware, and they've got a pretty serious marching band. I don't know what they do in terms of competition outside of their football games, but they are pretty gigantic and practice for several hours a day for the entire season.

I can second this, because I used to be in that marching band. UDMB caps at 300 people (with guard) and has practices MWF 4 - 6pm for the entirety of fall semester. Saturday practices, combined with games, are generally 8am - 9pm with a few breaks in between. They do two or three competitions each season as a group, a couple smaller ones for guard / drumline in other semesters. So uh.. not much time to be an engineer, so I had to leave. I miss it a lot but what can you do? I still go see them because Sarver is amazing at getting college students to do anything.

Anyway, stats for me on ze trumpet:

3 years middle school concert
4 years HS marching, concert, jazz bands
2 years UDMB

Maybe this could be the official "notify me of shows!" thread as well? I always seem to miss the drum corps ones completely even if I'm looking out for them. :?
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