Ritualized performance and community identity: A historical examination of drum corps competition in the United States

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Abstract

What structures bind musical communities that reach over distances? This article examines the musical community of youth drum corps in the United States and, in particular, the changing performance practices at competitions over time and how those changes influence the identity of the community. Drum corps is a community that exists over increasingly greater distances, yet the identity of this musical community is strong. An important site for discovering this communal identity is in competitive performance. Drum corps performances are strictly regulated because of this competitive context, and the values seen in those competitive regu-lations reflect the identity of the community. Ritual theory helps to examine the mechanisms by which members of this musical community renegotiate these identity values over decades. This article discusses shifts in performance practices such as instrumentation, repertoire and motion, all of which are reflected in changing competition judging guidelines. Ritual theory is used to understand how members of the drum corps community understood the implementation and official recogni-tion of these changes in competitions as changes to the community’s identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Community Music
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Community
  • Drum corps
  • Identity
  • Marching band
  • Musical competition
  • Ritual

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