Monday, July 2, 2007

Amplified Vocals

Amplified vocals. The dreaded two word phrase of drum corps. Since the Cadets put their "This I Believe" show out on the field, I've noticed the amount discussion/arguments/whatever about amped vocals increase, and I thought I'd take my own stab at discussing this controversial aspect of drum corps. It's a pretty broad topic, so this will take a series of posts... but here we go.

First up...
Classification of Amped Vocals

While each individual use of amped vocals is different from any other, I've decided that they can be divided into three main categories, as listed and explained below. I've also taken some liberties with placing each corps' usage of amped vocals in an appropriate category (I realize that some of these placements could very easily be debated).

1. Sparse spoken words or phrases
When a corps chooses to use amplified vocals, but does so sparingly. The vocals generally aren't used for an extended length of time but instead are short phrases or words. They are often used as a novelty and, while relevant to the show's design, don't explicitly explain a concept or idea.

Corps that have used this:
Blue Devils 2006 - "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse."
Bluecoats 2007 - "Stop! Drop your weapons!," etc.
Cadets 2005 - Bjork impersonation in "Cvalda"
Cadets 2006 - "I thought you all might like to sit and have some tea," etc.
Crossmen 2006 - Radio section

2. Narration
I consider any extended use of continuous amped vocals or any vocals that explain a show concept to the audience to be narration. This category probably has the biggest variety of vocals (in terms of presentation and purpose) and is also probably the most vehemently opposed (except, of course, for amplified singing).

Corps that have used this:
Blue Devils 2005 - "Yowza yowza yowza!" ... need I say more?
Blue Stars 2006 - "The freedom to etc etc etc"
Boston Crusaders 2004 - "The mind, like the hand, etc..."
Cadets 2005 - "You unlock this door with the key of imagination, etc..."
Cadets 2007 - I don't think this one needs an explanation.
Carolina Crown 2004 - Beat poetry

3. Singing and "drumspeak"
This is pretty self explanatory. I grouped amplified singing and drumspeak together because they aren't mere spoken words, but instead almost function as an additional instrument within the ensemble.

Corps that have used this:
Bluecoats 2005 - Drumspeak
Cadets 2005 - Drumspeak
Cadets 2006 - Singing, neutral syllable
Capital Regiment - Singing,
Carolina Crown 2004 - Singing, "Seasons of Love"

Up next... pros and cons of each.

[Note: I have not included Pacific Crest 2007 or Seattle Cascades 2005 in these lists because I am not familiar with these shows. If anyone has any information they'd like to share about them (or any other show that I may have missed) in regards to their uses of amped vocals, I'd be happy to add it.]

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