Marching Music

Marching Styles: Part 1
April 23, 2007, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Drum & Bugle Corps, marching band

After talking at length with some college students, mostly music education majors, I’ve decided that I need to do a bit of a series on marching styles.  I’ve marched everything so, although my likes definitely lie on the side of corps style, I think that I can give a pretty good, unbiased overview.  That said, let’s focus on our first style: Squad/Big10 style.


Definition: 3 or 4 person squads; all people in a given squad are given a single direction; squad members generally stay together and do uniform moves, which when combined with other squads, make forms; often partnered with a style referred to as “high knee”

Advantages: This style takes relatively little time to teach.  We use it in my college marching band.  We spend about 15 minutes teaching the commands at the beginning of band camp and never re-visit that for the remainder of the season.  A typical drill can fit on a couple of sheets of paper and can be read with ease by the average person who has never marched before.  It works well in areas where bands are required to do multiple shows in a year in order to please the football fans.

Disadvantages: This style does not usually jive well with dynamic considerations within a piece.  Often a piece will build up, crescendo, and then the drill takes them in a different direction, facing instruments away from the audience and ruining the effect.  Usually this can be fixed by simply sliding (shifting if you’re from the east coast) or caution in drill writing.  The other disadvantage to this technique is that it often looks sloppy.  Competition or corps style bands use precision, dot drills.  This style will be visited later.  In general however, 3 or 4 person squads do not stay/work together well, making distorted forms as a result.

Related concepts: High knee, big 10, football bands, college style, multiple shows


4 Comments so far
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What style does the USC Trojan Marching Band use?

Comment by Chris

I’m not very familiar with USC, but from watching the video it looks like a chair step. This is a technique usually used by college bands and in small amounts by high school marching bands. This is the technique that I have the least experience with since my college marched Big 10 style.The difference is that in the chair step the knee is raised with the foot pointing straight down from the knee. With the Big 10 style the knee is raised with the foot pointed down parallel to and directly beside the knee.

Comment by alison

I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s
a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to
come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
Fantastic work!

Comment by

Thanks! I started this blog myself as a college project.

Comment by alison

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