• Drum Corps in Mexico

    From MPAM

    November 25, 2023

    About styles:All mexican BG are regulated by a military manual, I insist, but every BG apply its own style of music, marching or uniforms. Well I think that there are 3 styles of BG, but of course this is totally my interpretation. First we have the Sinaloa style, this is the most “new school” style. They were the pioneers of the high notes, double tonguing and harmonies  back at the beginning of 2000´s. The most important BG of Sinaloa are Escuela Normal de Sinaloa, “Veteranos” from los Mochis, Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa and Universidad Autonoma de Occidente from Los Mochis, this last one I believe is the best ever. Many groups in México try to play within this style, you can see adaptations of this style everywhere. I    believe that Sinaloa has the most technical musical style, probably because Sinaloa has a great musician tradition, not only in DC but in general, the “Sinaloa Band” is truly on of the most popular music geners in México, so the musical tradition in that state is big. Then we have the Chihuahua style. This is a really sober style, I like this a lot also. They don´t use to play high notes or fast drumming, it´s very sober. A low and slow movement of the hands, plain notes, mostly no harmonies, no double tonguing or high notes. Of course there area few rebels groups in the state of Chihuahua like COBACH 7 and Universidad Tecnológica of Ciudad Juárez, they play more closely to a Sinaloa style. Well chihuahuan bands don't use to compete outside Chihuahua and many people don't know these groups, but trust me; the state of Chihuahua has one of the finest groups in México. Almost every band in Chihuahua uses a cadet-style uniform, they are well known for this. They put a lot of effort trying to look as elegant as possible and they really do it. They don´t take risks at playing but nobody marches like them; the best guard flags and the best marching technique can be found in Chihuahua. Then we have the Mexico city style, for me is the most similar to the military style, although some of these groups can play like Sinaloa or march like Chihuahua, they keep their own style. I think they are the most close to the military style in their marching style and in their uniforms. Since Mexico city is a huge place, you can find a lot of high level bands, but paradoxically there are almost no guard flags, or at least not with a competition level. And then we have the rest of the country. I doesn´mean that the other states have no style, they do, everyone have a style but this 3 styles are widespread.

    About kind of competitions:We have  a lot of competitions, maybe more than we should. There are two kinds of competitions, the first kind of competition is organized by some scholar organization. Nationally there are two big scholar competitions systems, one is organized by the technological institutes, there are more than 250 technological institutes in México. The other one is DGEti, this is a  high school national  system. There are more than 400 of these high schools. Both have a final national event and in order to classify to that, they have state or regional stages. Almost every other high school system has state competitions. In these state competitions you can find between 4 and 10 or 12 corps. Also, there are some elementary and secondary state competitions.The other kind of competitions are open or non-institutionalized competitions, Everyone can host a competition and call or convene for competitors, these competitions are organized by  almost anyone; every major manufacturer has a competition with its name; any club, school or group of colleagues can have its own competition. Of course, many of these competitions lack logistics and a good evaluation system, but not all of them. There are a lot of really good competitions around the country, in some of them you can find even 100+ groups from kinder to universities or clubs. A standard competition has 4 stages: a) revista, b)toques-marchas, c)orden cerrado y marcha libre. a) Revista is nothing but an examination of the conditions of the instruments and uniforms. Everything must be extremely clean and uniform in all senses: shoes, uniforms, instruments, accessories, haircut, etc. It is a military-criteria examination. b) Toques-marchas is the execution of bugle calls and marches, both are regulated by the manual. c) Orden cerrado is one of the toughest parts, in this part we don´t play, we just march. This part always has a lot of value on competitions. In this part the band has to do things like quick step, double step (although we have different names for that).These positions and movements are regulated also by the manual. Finally we have the d) marcha libre (free march), which is a free interpretation. This part has a few rules, basically we must present a routine of  5-6 minutes, and only use or regulated instruments, but we can play almost anything we want.Military groups have their own competitions, but for civilians is hard to even watch them. We need special permission.

    Most important bands of north
    Chihuahua State:CBTis 128, COBACH 7, technological Institute of Ciudad Juárez, Technological University of Ciudad Juárez
    Sinaloa State:Veteranos From los Mochis,. Escuela Normal (teacher education school) de Sinaloa from Culiacán, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente from Los Mochis, Bomberos (firefighter) from Los Mochis, Universidad autónoma de Durango from Mazatlan and Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, from Culiacan.
    From Sonora state :Universidad autónoma de Sonora from Hermosillo
    Baja California state:
    Universidad Autónoma de Baja California from Ensenada, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California from Mexicali
    Center of the country, different states:Bomberos (firefighter) from Celaya (Gto state), Universidad Michoacana from Morelia (my hometown)
    Mexico city:Escorpiones, Águilas del Libro de la Historia, Leyenda oro, Leyenda oro JV, Fraternidad, Linaje Azteca
    And from the south:30 caballeros from Cordoba (Veracruz state), Cuervos from Orizaba (Veracruz state), Alebrijes from Oaxaca (Oaxaca state) and Perros del IDEY from Merida (Yucatan state)

    About 501c3:Yes, we have something like that, although it is not common to DC to apply. We call this "civic association"

    About our instruments and our music: We play only b flat bugle, clarion and rope drum. We call the bugle “clarín” (a bugle with two turns), the french clarion “corneta”(one turn) and the drum which is a rope drum, we call it “tambor”. About 15 years ago we still used leather drum heads. Now we use synthetic drum heads . Materials or size are also regulated by the military manuals.  No valves at all. We play two kinds of things: regulated bugle calls or military marches and what we call free marches. Bugle calls and military marches  are regulated by the manual, they should be played according to the music score of the manual. On every new edition of the manual we can find changes or new bugle calls. We also play free marches, we call it that way because there are no regulations for them, as long as we use the regulated instruments you are free to play whatever you want. When we play a free march, you can hear almost everything from mexican traditional songs to some Bach, Beethoven or…anything that can be adapted to our instruments. Despite the limitations of our instruments, instructors have a lot of creativity. Usually we play high notes, some basic harmonies, sometimes 2 o 3 voices. I think that technically our brass sections are a little bit more complex than our drum sections. Brass advanced not only but  mainly because of sinaloan bands, they have strongly influenced us on this, I don´t have an exact number but there must be around 4 o 5 groups in México that are improving the brass technique or creating and innovating. But if we talk about drum technique I think that we can talk about one BG, the University Of Sonora, these guys have been leading for more than 10 years, nobody plays the drum like them.

    About spanish lessons: How about the name of somethings DC related?
    Baqueta=Drum sticks
    Tambor=Drum..more like a snare
    Corneta=French Clarion
    Clarin=Bugle (two turns)
    Paso redoblado=the most common speed of step, 120 steps per minute
    Paso corto=same speed than redoblado step but the stride is shorter
    Toque=bugle call
    Marching band= all kind of american DC
    Banda de guerra (war band)=Mexican DC
    Escolta de bandera=Guard flag