Marching Music

Marching Styles Part 2
April 24, 2007, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Drum & Bugle Corps, marching band

In order to explain corps style marching, I am going to split it up into 2 different sections: bicycle and straight leg.  There is a whole huge spectrum to be explored here, but for the sake of understanding, we’ll generalize.  Let’s discuss the Corps style technique: bicycle.


Definition: Each member has his/her own dot for each “set” of the show.  Step size varries for each member in each set because no two members have exactly the same commands to execute.  Steps are taken in a “bicycle” style, picking each foot up, bringing it to a certain point, and then extending to the next step.  The steps can be taken in a “tightrope” style, meaning that one foot is placed directly in front of the other, or in a “ski line” style, meaning that the paths of the feet may never cross (like skis).

This is the one which I have the least experience with, so feel free to correct any errors in my definition.

Advantages: This works very well in high school bands because it provides members a way to move fairly quickly without taking the time to teach a more strenuous and rigid technique.  It is the easiest for students to master as well as to hide small variations. 

Disadvantages: At slower tempos, it looks silly.  When its opposite, straight leg technique, is polished, this looks sloppy  and flaily by comparison.  Control is key.  It may also be harder to keep the movement from affecting your sound (ground in the sound) when using this technique.

Related Concepts: tight rope, ski line, precision/dot drill, high school marching band


5 Comments so far
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This is great stuff. Keep it up, it’s well worth reading. I like the way you are presenting this in sections and with keywords. I am going to send you some information about getting your blog listed with more sites and a broader audience.

J. Pisano

Comment by pisanojm

Sweet choice of the cavie pic – I’m pretty sure I know that guy – he had some sweet roll up in the back

Comment by Andy B

This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.

Comment by World Of Cute Kids

I could go on and on in revisions on this post especially this style vs. straight leg

First, it is known as the “Roll-step”. Yes, it does look like you’re riding a bicycle, so an apt comparison.

Calling it a corps style technique is a bit of a misnomer in that only two world class corps (SCV and Cavies) march the style, everyone else marches straight-leg.

Tight-roping is strongly discouraged in both of those corps by the way, but every place differs in how it’s taught.

To be honest, it seems that you are biased against a style you are unfamiliar with. The roll-step is not “easy” to march at a high level, nor is straight leg, and it does not look “sloppy” as you suggest. To march a proper Cavaliers roll step, one has to go through the following defined positions.

Feet, starting in 1st position.

On the and of 8 of the prep, members point their left foot, articulating the knee.

The foot is then placed in the first step, articulating on the back edge of the heel with an emphasis on getting the toes as high as possible.

The foot is then “rolled-through”. The left foot is now firmly on the ground, with all the marcher’s weight on it, while the back foot, in this case the right foot, has been “rolled up” to bring perpendicular to the ground.

To take the next step, the back foot is kept pointed in this position as it passes the front foot, until the next step is taken.

Hope that cleared up a few things about this relatively uncommon style.

Comment by gordunk

I’d be interested to know where your information comes from.
There are more than 2 corps that do not march straight leg.
Most non-DCI units that do not use the straight leg technique do not define it properly, therefore it is sloppy. If it is properly defined it can look very sharp.
I have experience with all 3 techniques. Bicycle is a different technique from “roll step.” 2 different things.
Thanks for helping me to clarify.

Comment by alison

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