2010 will see the expansion of amplification in outdoor marching percussion. What was traditionally an acoustic event has now become a wired and electrified performance. Drum and Bugle Corps contests, performed in soccer stadiums in Europe and on football fields in the United States, now allows amplification of instruments. The announcement from Drum Corps Europe (DCE), including Drum Corps United Kingdom (DCUK) and Drum Corps Netherlands (DCN), to allow amplification follows the decision made by Drum Corps International (DCI) to allow amplification. By many fans, performers, and educators amplification is seen as progress and just as many view the change as an unnecessary means of breaking from tradition.
What does the change bring? When DCI adopted the rule change many percussion arrangers commented that amplification of the front ensemble, or pit percussion, would create a more efficient use of performers and instrumentation. Prior to amplification a specific part might have been voiced by three percussionists to generate the desired impact, volume, and to generate a fullness in the quality of sound that might have been otherwise lost in an outdoor venue. Amplification allows the audience to hear the subtle intricacies experienced by an audience in an accoustically designed concert hall that are missed outdoors.
What can you hear? How noticeable the use of amplification was in a performance generally measured how successful its implementation. Since allowing amplification in DCI there have been many discussions on the use of human voice and electronic sounds. Done well, amplification should enhance the show and blend to create a perfect balance, used poorly, it becomes the center of attention detracting from the overall show.
What may prove the biggest change, possible downfall, improvement, or decline in drum corps is the change in instrumentation, not so much the decision to amplify the current sound.