DCI Judging 101

Judges look on from the press box.
What exactly are the green-shirted judges fans see on the field and up in the
press box during a Drum Corps International event judging? What do they look for
and analyze? How they decide on a score for a particular caption?

This explanation looks to help demystify the adjudication process and in most
cases applies to both the Open and World Class judging sheets. There are two
sub-captions that are evaluated on each sheet, listed below in capitalized letters.
The numbers each judge marks on his or her own sheets are then submitted and
tabulated along with all other judges to come up with a corps’ final score at
each event.

View a sample judging sheet. (PDF)

In addition to the sheets, each judge provides a tape of commentary for each
corps, recorded live throughout each performance. The commentary on each tape
goes into extensive detail, explaining in real time what the judge is witnessing
as each corps performs. The tapes serve to express the logic behind the scores
the judges give to each corps, as well as to give the instructors and designers
extensive feedback on the nuances of each show.

This is just a basic overview of the judges’ responsibilities as required
on each particular judge’s scoring sheet.

This judge sits in the stands and asks if the visual program is being “sold”
to the audience. Are the drill formations, movements and evolutions and the
choreography of the movement, dance and other maneuvers easy to “read”
and do they create an emotional impact?

In EFFECTIVENESS OF THE REPERTOIRE, the judge gives a score based on how well
the visuals interpret the musical program. In EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PERFORMERS,
the judge considers how well the marching members convey their product to the

This judge sits in the stands and isn’t added to the judging panel until
later in the season for World Class events. They use identical sheets as the
Visual Effect 1 judge.

Music judge Albert Lo fills out
comments on his judging sheets.
This judge sits in the stands and considers how successfully the performers
“sell” their musical program (the “book”) to the audience,
including a consideration of the emotional impact of the presentation.

EFFECTIVENESS OF THE REPERTOIRE essentially considers how well the music flows,
if the music delivers maximum impact and if it is adequately sophisticated.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PERFORMERS is all about how well the performers communicate
the music to the audience, and if the music is paced well, with a right amount
of ups and downs to keep things interesting.

This judge sits in the stands and is added to the judging panel later in the
season for World Class events. They use identical sheets as the Music Effect
1 judge.

Sometimes referred to as the Field Visual judge, this is one of three judges
that fans will see running around the field during a corps’ performance.
They reward marchers for their ability to perform their drill formations and
choreography while playing the music.

the performers being trained to handle their movement demands and how well they
march their drill formations. Are they in step and in the right place? Do they
exhibit a uniform marching style throughout the corps? EXCELLENCE OF FORM, BODY
AND EQUIPMENT is where the judge considers the difficulty and variety of what
the marchers are doing and if the marchers are conveying the music through the

This judge sits in the stands to better observe the excellence of how the corps
members march during a performance. The judge also rewards the design team for
creating a show where the music and visual program work as a single entity.

THE COMPOSING PROCESS is where the judge analyzes if the visual program is
logical, if the forms evolve from one to the other or if they appear to be just
thrown together. Do the movements create excitement? Do the colors, the flags
and even the props and sets make sense? ACHIEVEMENT OF EXCELLENCE AND TECHNIQUE
is where the members are credited with demonstrating proper techniques to make
the visual presentation clear. The judge also considers how well the visual
program fits the music and if the program adequately challenges the members.

This judge sits in the stands to better see the entire color guard and to reward
the guard members for conveying their program to the audience. Do the routines
fit with the music? Are the routines challenging and is the guard succeeding
in accomplishing the program they are given?

PROGRAM CONTENT: OVERALL VOCABULARY looks at if the guard exhibits a wide variety
of techniques throughout the show and how well the members use their bodies
and equipment to convey the mood of the music. Do they enhance or detract from
the music? Are they staged well and do they behave as a single group when needed,
but individuals when required? How well are they used in the overall design
of the show? ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH FORM, BODY, AND EQUIPMENT looks at how well
the members demonstrate their training. Do they spin, throw and catch the equipment
at the same time and with precision? Is what they are doing clear to the audience?
Do they handle the challenges of adverse weather conditions (such as wind) well?

Sometimes referred to as the Field Brass judge, this is one of three judges
that fans will see running around the field during a corps’ performance.
They award the horn line for good musicianship and technique.

ACHIEVEMENT OF MUSICIANSHIP credits performers for superb music making, attention
to the little things that make a performance extraordinary and attention to
the proper musical style. ACHIEVEMENT OF TECHNIQUE credits the brass section
for the quality of sound coming out of the horns, proper tonguing, smooth fingering
and good intonation (playing in tune). The judge is largely looking for a uniformity
of sound and technique.

This judge sits in the stands to best hear how the musical elements blend and
fit together. They focus on both the brass and percussion and how the two lines
blend together as a drum corps and not just a drum line and a horn line.

ACHIEVEMENT OF MUSICALITY focuses on how the brass and percussion take the
notes and make them into great music, the very meaning of musicianship. Are
both lines playing with the proper style for the music being played and do all
the players comprehend what the overall sound should be? ACHIEVEMENT OF SOUND/TUNING/TECHNIQUE
rewards the clarity of a good ensemble sound and proper tone quality throughout
the brass and percussion. The percussion instruments must be properly tuned
for the best sound and the line must be balanced volume-wise with the brass.
Control and quality of sound is quite important… no members should be
sticking out when they are supposed to be blending together with all the other

Percussion judge Allan Kristensen records
his comments from the field.
Sometimes referred to as the Field Percussion judge, this is one of three judges
that fans will see running around the field during a corps’ performance.
They reward the battery (drum line) drummers and the front ensemble (pit) percussionists
for good musicianship and technique.

MUSICIANSHIP is concerned with proper interpretation of the music, whether
everyone is playing together, and the presence of a uniform style in the battery
and front ensemble. The drumheads must be properly tuned, the timpanist must
be playing in tune and the keyboard players must know how to get the best sound
from their instruments. QUALITY OF TECHNIQUE is more about the precision exhibited
while playing the various percussion instruments. A uniform style is most important,
as is accuracy from all members, as a judge is listening closely for any inconsistencies
and tiny errors.

This judge sits in the stands and is added to the judging panel later in the
season. They use identical sheets as the Percussion 1 judge. When utilized,
their score is averaged with the Percussion 1 judge for the final Percussion

And while we’re at it, how are caption awards determined for the Drum
Corps International World Championships?

Caption awards are determined by averaging caption scores at the Quarterfinals,
Semifinals and Finals events.

BEST BRASS is based on the Brass Performance (Field) scores.

BEST PERCUSSION is based on the Percussion Performance scores.

BEST VISUAL is based on the Visual Performance (Field) scores.

BEST COLOR GUARD is based on the Color Guard scores.

BEST GENERAL EFFECT is determined by combining the Music Effect and Visual
Effect scores from each of the three days, and averaging the three.

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Posted by on Aug 19 2008. Filed under Events, Luar Negeri, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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