The Sound And The Fury (madison Scouts)

The roar of extreme sound emanates from a football field. It is clear that this is not an ordinary high school marching band playing at a football game. These are Drum and Bugle Corps, boasting an instrumentation of all brass and percussion instruments. This arrangement of instruments can create an enormous amount of sound, sometimes louder than a rock music concert. Due to their thorough auditioning processes, they have a group of musicians, who can play extremely well, all of whom are brought together to entertain the crowds on their three month tour in the summer. Their goal is not just entertainment, but to end up on the top of the order when all is said and done at the championships. In 1972, several Drum and Bugle corps, who wanted to perform competitively against each other, embarked on a venture to create their own rules of performance. The original rules were set forth by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, from whom competitive Drum Corps w!as given birth. The competing units had little to say in any modification of rules. From this new coalition, Drum Corps International (DCI) arose. The Madison Scouts, one of these charter members of DCI, were originally formed as a division of a Boy Scout troop in 1938, so that Madison would have their own Drum and Bugle Corps to resemble the Racine Scouts Corps. Each year 125 men, ages sixteen to twenty-one, come together for three months, practicing an average of eight hours every day in the summer, to put together the production for the coming competitive season. Each year the Madison Scouts thrill audiences with their talent and power, creativity, and an emphasis on entertainment to consistently become one of the crowds’ favorite corps.Amazing us with the sound they can generate, the Madison Scouts are known as “The guys who can blow the corks right out of their spit valves”. This is an unattainable feat, unless you are using tremendous amounts of air and pressure most professional players cannot do this. The Madison Scouts are noted for tapping into this unbridled power which their musicians possess. They utilize extreme variation in dynamic levels. Like adjusting the volume on a stereo, this is how loud and soft the ensemble gets as a whole. They create an atmosphere on the football field which draws in the audience. Their soprano bugles are renowned for pushing the limits of their playable range by not only playing high “C”, but going further to play high “G” above high “C”. These virtually impossible feats become reality with the skill of these musicians, as well as their dedication to practice. To compare this feat with track and field, high “G” is like running a 3:45 minute mile: it can be done but is not achieved very often. In addition to the talent of this group, individual Madison Scouts have achieved recognition in the DCI solo and ensemble contests. The Scouts have captured four straight brass choir and percussion ensemble titles from 1985-1988. In winning their DCI titles in 1975 and 1988 not only was their raw power recognized, but their creativity was rewarded.The spectacular creativity of this corps is more abundantly represented in the 1990’s. In the early nineties their show’s music was from the Broadway hit “City of Angels”, bringing Broadway to the field. In 1994, realizing that they couldn’t control the judges response to their programs, the corps changed their philosophy on competition. Their ultimate goal was still winning, but they became more focused on the element of winning that they could control, the crowd response. With this new philosophy, their musical genre changed over to more Latin or Jazz types of music. This style of show allowed them to introduce original compositions, such as their opening and closing musical selections, “The Adventure Begins” and “Confrontation and Finale” in their 1997 show entitled “The Pirates of Lake Mendota”. This music created the atmosphere for the choreographers to step in and use outstanding staging techniques. These include placement on the field of color guard and corps members. To encourage a strong crowd response and enhance the general effect of the show they told the story very artistically. The color guard, outfitted in a buccaneer style of clothing, used their props with a superb flare of timing to help set the mood with the music. Besides the usual sabers, rifles, and flags, props this year included giant masts to look like pirate ships. The classic uniforms of the musicians still keep the contemporary style of the Scouts and yet brighten the visual effect given off by these Jazz based shows. Such creativity has built the Madison Scouts into one of the most crowd-appealing corps.The current Madison Scouts now expect frenzied responses from the crowds at any performance. Crowd response is not the only measure of a corps’ popularity though. The Scouts’ souvenir sales have set a new record every year since 1995, breaking $200,000 in 1997. After their “A Drum Corps Fan’s Dream” show in 1995, the Corps received a record number of phone calls, letters, and Internet transmissions expressing overwhelming pleasure with the show and requesting many more like it. Following the sequel to this powerful show, “A Drum Corps Fan’s Dream Part Dos” the Corps received over 1000 people auditioning for the honor of being a member of the Corps that continually brings the audience to their feet. Despite the incredible responses, the official judging has not recognized the strength of these shows. Such was evident when the Madison Scouts’ score and placement where announced at the 1998 Championships in Orlando, Florida. The crowd began booing at the score, not letting the announcer go on reading the rest of the corps’ scores for almost ten minutes. The Scouts issued the statement, “We like to say thanks to them the fans for supporting us by giving them what they came for – Entertainment.” The official success of this group of musicians has been limited in the 1990’s with an average sixth place finish Drum Corps International World Championships, but that has not dampened their desire to entertain.Each year the Scouts continue to amaze every audience they come in contact with, utilizing their fine blend of musicians, who possess the ability to perform these extremely unique and stunning shows. They have brought awareness to DCI, but more importantly, to the fans and those unaware of this art form. It is truly an electrifying experience to witness the power and talent, creativity, and emphasis on entertainment that the Madison Scouts bring to every DCI performance.BibliographyMadison Scouts Organization. web page Sep 10, 1998 ;a href=””; Accessed September 14 1998. – The Drum Corps Repertoire Database. web page Sep 14, 1998 ;a href=””; Accessed September 14 1998.”1997 Summer Music Games” Drum Corps International Inc. PBS, October 15 1997.