Drumline: "Top Gun" of Marching Bands

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Boplicity, Dec 16, 2002.

  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Today I just saw a movie with a typical "Top Gun" style storyline, but the backdrop was a fascinating look into marching bands of mostly black colleges.

    The stock characters include the rebellious snare drum genius who wins a band scholarship to fictitious Atlanta A&T College. His incredible "ear" helped him conceal the truth that he cannot read music, an absolute requirement to march in AAT's band...but, of course, a jealous drum major who is threatened by his talent will discover the truth and expose him. That drum major is another key stock character. (Think Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in "Top Gun.")

    Another stock character is Dr. Lee, (Orlando Jones, who is a serious character in this plot) the disciplinarian and traditionalist band leader who must struggle between his desire to create excellence in his band by demanding classical methods and the urging of the college president to modernize the band so the college can win the prestigious annual battle of the marching bands. Modernizing means playing hip hop marches, R&B, funk and pop tunes and coreography with more "edge."

    Of course all these characters clash throughout the movie in a struggle of tradition vs modernism and raw talent vs strict classical training with rigid standards of performance.

    All the while, what an impressive look inside the world of black marching bands...the pressures, the rivalry, the arduous physical training, creative highly complex and precision coreography and equally complex music arrangements! These bands are not your gandma's high school bands. I know because I am old enough to be many of your grandmas and I know marching bands weren't like this when I was in high school.

    Too bad a sappy love story got tacked on to this movie, but it is a small price to pay to witness the incredible drum "wars" and the stirring finale of marching bands. I highly recommend "Drumline" to any of you that have ever been in a marching band, or enjoy marching bands or are interested in being in one.

    If any of you have seen it, please let me know what you thought of it. If you have been in a marching band, how realistic is the picture the movie paints?
  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I've been in a marching band but haven't seen the movie just for the fact that it looks really dumb and cliched to me. I could be wrong but I'm probably not.

    brad cook
  3. Jay


    Oct 19, 2000
    Bidwell, OH
    I'm interested. A friend of mine (in marching band together, fighting "The System" together as well) showed me a band competition at a college game just like what I've gotten out of the DrumLine preview. Two bands from Alabama (A&M and State maybe, don't remember) went off. They're both largely black colleges, and they did the hip hop music and choreography as portrayed in DrumLine. I was highly impressed, and it got me pumped up (basically for nothing because our band doesn't really do cool stuff anymore).

    I'll be seeing it as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for the review.
  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    DigMe, there were things about the movie that might be considered "dumb and cliched" like the sappy love story and the "love-hate" relationship between the snare drum prodigy and the captain of his drumline, plus that same drummer's conflicts with the music director.

    However, what make this movie stand out in spite of a somewhat stock plotline and stock characters are the amazing marching band performances, which demand both excellence in musicianship, but also athletic prowess. That these bands succeed in spite of rivalries and conflicts over objectives and philosophies is a testament to the dedication of the members and instructors.

    One further point must be made. Today budget- strapped school districts are making fatal cuts to school music programs. I worry about the future of these incredible marching bands, because where will they get a sufficient pool of talent to sustain themselves when high schools no longer offer band programs? The movie never makes that point, but I think it is one that should be made.
  5. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    With all due respect, but if you can't read music our percussion director would pretty much tell you have fun in your side band since you won't be in ours. Main reason is since he's a great great drummer & teaches so being able to read music is mandatory. Being able to play well is not so much a necesity as being able to read so that you can play with the section. I think the movie looks good in that it high lights marching band except it looks to "HollyWood" over done so i'm skeptical about it. I know there are some really great marching bands/drum corps out there The Cavaliers, & Phantom Regiment come to mind but i can nearly gurantee that if you can't read music you won't even get yours hands on the harness [snare harness] since you may be a prodigy but what good is 1 prodigy that can't play what's written on the page? Thats all
  6. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I spent 6 years in marching band in college, 1st trumpet section. This movie looks a little too stupid & cliche to warrent me going to the theater to see it. :rolleyes: Besides, I've partied with the Stanford Marching band before... nothing in this movie could compare to that experience. :D

    If I want to see totally impressive marching band and/or corps performances, I can watch a DCI video or track down performances by Grambling or Southern's bands. :)
  7. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    They are?

    In the school district where I teach the music program is getting more than ever (this is a fairly small Texas town with a lot of underpriviliged students and not much money). I was at an elementary school last week where they had no less than 8 electric guitars, at least two trap sets, several basses, many acoustic and classical guitars, a Roland guitar synth, cellos, violins, music making and recording software on the IMacs, and so forth and so on.... And this was just one of the smaller elementary schools in the district!!

    I personally don't think that the majority of marching band programs in the country are at risk of being lost. I could be wrong and you are welcome to show me whatever statistic you are using but I haven't heard anything about it. I'm sure there are some but I'd be willing to guess that those are the exceptions. I think America's marching bands are gonna be a-OK.

    brad cook
  8. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    We had to rent them when I was in school. Our band program was never in danger of being cut though.

    That's cool that you're donating the bass. I hope it doesn't get put in a closet somewhere. Maybe you could also donate some time teaching a few introductory lessons to whoever wants to use it. That might actually be fun!

    brad cook
  9. Its really too bad all these new Teen movies are so unoriginal. Its as if they assume kids have no intelligence and no attention span. Sad sad sad.


    Now THAT was a movie! I never knew being a cheerleader was so exciting nor had I any idea the amount of pressure they are under when they perform. Not only was it an in-depth look at the world of competitive cheerleading, but it was also a very personal piece. I nearly cried with that Rich, prissy, cheerleader and her less-fortunate counterpart decided to settle their differences. AND THE ENDING! OH MY GOD!! *shudder* I can't reveal it, for those who haven't seen it. But everyone triumphs...in....their....hearts....*sniff*

    Oh god...I..*sniff*....I'm sorry *sob* you guys...I *choke*..Excuse me...I have something in my eye.

    *runs off to the little boys room*
  10. This movie looked dumb in the commercials, and I can't say I'll be spending money on seeing it. Maybe it isn't as bad I suspect, but it didn't appear good enough for me to spend money I barely have. :)

    I do like the sound of a good drumline, though. I've been in a DCI (www.dci.org) drum and bugle corps for the past three years (and have two summers to go. I'm not in the drumline, but the brass line) and despite the fact that drum corps is probably the polar opposite of the jazz I enjoy the rest of the year, I love it.
  11. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yes I know zoombie

    While Admiral Maverick never came back VH-1 has a TV movie sequel to Drumline out now. Sean Taylor the drum section leader from the original is the new band director brought in to bring the Atlanta A&T band back to their former glory. Nick Cannon also returns in a Teddy Riley or Sean Combs like star performer producer record mogol
  12. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    Music is not a competition.... Unless you're in a marching band.

    My daughter just completed 4 years of marching band and drumline. She hates that movie.
  13. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Oh! And this one time... at band camp... I stuck a flute.....