Multi-key Instrument Rule Change


My primary intent by proposing the latest rule change, "brass bell-front valve instruments in any key with the exception of sousaphones and trombones", is to ease the restrictive nature of the existing regulations by offering more choice without changing the visual look of the activity. Under no circumstances will a corps be required to use instruments other than those they are now using as a result of this change. Instead, those corps that choose to explore other options in brass voicing may do so.

The DCI Board of Directors were satisfied with the new rules process that allows for thoughtful and reasonable discussions. I was very pleased with the system that affords proposals to be made and passed or defeated. The rule proposals were not decided upon and discussed quickly, but rather something that was given much thought and consideration."

The vote was a part of a yearlong rules process that was researched by the committees of the DCI Board of Directors and the DCI Instructors/Judges Task Force. The rules proposals were then presented to the Instructors caucuses in mid-January where they were approved and forwarded to the DCI Board of Directors for the final stage of the process.

A few of the reason for proposing the change. There are only two bugle manufacturers – DEG and Kanstul -- and there is a growing concern if either or both of these manufacturers decided to terminate their bugle production, that the activity would have a potentially dreadful situation to handle. We would like to take the opportunity today to be proactive and start working with additional manufacturers to create acceptable instrument for our activity in the future.

Some feel that this may be an opportunity to play on instruments of superior quality to the bugles currently used. The staff of the Blue Devils will work with manufactures to improve the current quality of marching brass instrument in all keys, just like we did with the current instruments we are using today. We want the same impact and quality of sound with new horns, as the instruments we have developed with DEG and Kanstul.

Although we will likely see some experimentation throughout the next year or two, I do not anticipate any corps utilizing substantially different instrumentation for some time. It will take experimentation and testing for The Blue Devils to feel comfortable with a change. We want to make sure that we are still achieving the same quality of sound, if not better.

If a corps decided to utilize other key instruments, the sound will be a subjective preference. It will most likely be a taste preference , just like it is now when you have two corps performing back to back and you have a opinion on which sound you prefer. In almost all cases there will be no impact on the visual character of the performances.

If a drum corps decided to use traditional brass instruments, there will be an easy transition into drum corps for our members. It will also bridge the gap between traditional school programs and the drum corps activity. In essence become more legitimate educational organization. A student can use the training that they receive during the corps season on their primary instrument throughout their education career.

It will help start-up corps. They can have their students bring instruments and not only practice with them, use them in a performance. It allows more outlets for purchase, leasing, renting and borrowing of instruments. It could be a recruiting advantage.

There is much debate about whether or not the instruments currently employed are really bugles at this point. Some have said that the moment a valve was added, the bugle was no longer a bugle. Others argue that it is the key of G that makes the bugle unique. Regardless, allowing more free choice, realistic experimenting and testing is certainly part of the impetus behind the proposal.

This is a change that is hard for the drum corps activity, which is based on tradition. Remember that it takes away the mandate of a particular key instrument, and does not make you switch or buy new instruments. It will create more OPTIONS for ALL units!
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