Drum Corps International
Drum Corps International logo
|Type||Association of Drum and Bugle Corps|
|No. of corps||45 (World & Open Class)|
|Chair, Board of Directors||Kathy Black|
|Executive Director||Dan Acheson|
|First champions||Anaheim Kingsmen (Open Class, 1972)|
Drum Corps International (DCI) is a governing body for junior drum and bugle corps based in Indianapolis, Indiana. DCI is responsible for developing and enforcing rules of competition, and for providing standardized adjudication, at sanctioned competitions throughout the United States and Canada.
The competitive season traditionally begins in late-June and ends with the annual World Championship the second week of August. The 2020 World Championships were scheduled for August 6 – August 8, 2020 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. In March 2020, DCI announced the upcoming competitive season would be cancelled, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The previous Open Class Championships were hosted on August 5 – August 6, 2019, at Indiana Wesleyan University, in Marion, Indiana.
In 1971, at the urging of then-director of The Cavaliers, Don Warren, and Troopers director, Jim Jones, the directors from Blue Stars, Madison Scouts, and Santa Clara Vanguard, partnered with each other to form what was called the "Midwest Combine". The Combine corps would market themselves to show promoters as a package.
This partnership was a reaction to perceived inflexibility of the American Legion and VFW, who were then the primary sponsors of competing drum corps as well as the hosts of the only high-prestige national championships.:47 Another source of contention was low-to-nonexistent appearance fees paid to independent corps who were neither sponsored nor affiliated with any veterans post. Only those independent corps who placed among the top three at either of the national championships were paid any appearance fees, which deterred many corps from competing. Additionally, many local show sponsors and promoters rarely paid appearance fees to any corps.:320
A similar combine had formed in 1971 among corps based in the Northeast, known as the Alliance.[a] Its members were: 27th Lancers, Garfield Cadets, Boston Crusaders, Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights, and Blue Rock.
Despite objections from veterans associations, and boycotts by adjudicators associations, both the Combine and the Alliance remained intact for the 1971 competitive season. After discussions during the 1971 VFW National Championships, the members of both groups agreed to meet at the next American Legion Uniformed Group Rules Congress to discuss forming a new, independent, governing body.:321 Also invited to the meeting were the Anaheim Kingsmen, Argonne Rebels, and De La Salle Oaklands. Drum Corps International was established by thirteen corps on or after October 21, 1971.[b]
|Midwest Combine||Alliance||Other corps|
|Blue Stars||27th Lancers||Anaheim Kingsmen|
|The Cavaliers||Blessed Sacrament||Argonne Rebels|
|Madison Scouts||Blue Rock||De La Salle Oaklands|
|Santa Clara Vanguard||Boston Crusaders|
Given the difficulties experienced during the 1971 season, the members agreed not to interfere with the long-established regional competition circuits, especially those sponsored by the veterans organizations, but to boycott the other prestige championships, such as the VFW Nationals and Fleetwood Record's World Open Championship. DCI would also develop its own adjudicators committee instead of relying on any existing association. Additionally, member corps would be allowed to compete where they wished with few limitations, however, all member corps would be required to attend a specific number of DCI-sanctioned events as well as an annual World Championship, which would be scheduled in late-August after the other championships. DCI members would also remain united if boycotting a particular event, show sponsor, or business—such as Fleetwood Records, if such an action proved necessary.:322 The inaugural DCI World Championship was hosted at Warhawks Stadium on the campus of University of Wisconsin–Whitewater on August 18, 1972. In attendance were thirty-nine corps from fifteen states and one Canadian province. The Anaheim Kingsmen Drum and Bugle Corps was crowned the first DCI World Champion.
The Combine evolved into Drum Corps Midwest (DCM), while the Alliance became Drum Corps East—sometimes called Drum Corps Atlantic.[c] Both offered a regional circuit of competitions and a regional championship hosted prior to the "national tour" of DCI-sanctioned competitions. DCI gradually expanded its schedule to begin earlier in the competitive season, and thus participation declined at non-DCI events. Many of the regional circuits which pre-dated DCI, continued into the 1990s, with their high-profile competitions eventually being replaced by DCI competitions.
Other prestige championships, were eventually absorbed into the DCI schedule, many becoming DCI regionals. VFW Nationals are no longer hosted. The American Legion Championships are hosted infrequently by Legion posts in Pennsylvania or New York, and rarely attracts more than a few junior corps.
DCI is a 501(c)(3) organization governed by a board of directors, with an executive director responsible for day-to-day operations. The board of directors is composed of three representatives who are directors of member corps, and three at-large members who are not affiliated with any corps. The current chair of the board of directors is Kathy Black, and the current Executive Director is Dan Acheson.
Drum Corps Associates (DCA), a governing body for all-age or senior drum corps, and DCI are not affiliated, however the two organizations are strategic partners. Of note, DCI describes all-age corps as providing value to the drum corps activity, and permits all age corps to compete at sanctioned competitions.
As the self-styled "Marching Music's Major League", DCI's mission is to create an environment for participating corps "to engage in education, competition, entertainment, and the promotion of individual growth." The organization also emphasizes positive life-transforming experiences for all participants.
To become a DCI member, or to maintain membership, a corps must pass an evaluation by the board of directors. The evaluation requires corps to submit data on their financial health, fund raising capacity and income, participants, staffing, and explanations of their administrative structure. All corps are required to be 501(c)(3) organizations.
Once approved by the board, a new corps must achieve certain competitive requirements, such as attending World Championships. The corps must then be approved by a majority of other members at a meeting following World Championships, usually the annual rules congress later in the year.
All-age corps are ineligible for membership, but they may be qualify as a "touring" corps during a competitive season. International corps, or corps based outside the United States and Canada, are also ineligible for membership. However, an international corps that adopts DCI's regulations, specifically instrumentation and participant age limits, may also qualify as a touring corps in either Open or World Class.
DCI limits the age of participants to "21 years of age and younger." A participant who is 22 years before June 1 would be unable to compete. Some European and Asian drum corps associations have no age limit. Corps from those associations are allowed to compete at sanctioned competitions, and at World Championships in International Class.
Marketing and broadcasts
Individual drum corps derive a large part of their revenues from marketing their product, specifically memorabilia and souvenir sales. DCI derives income from ticket sales, and is the sole distributor of official media, such as championship DVDs and audio CDs. DCI is also the exclusive producer of all broadcasts of sanctioned competitions, including online streaming.
Since 2004, World Championship World Class prelims have been broadcast to movie theaters by Fathom Events under the title Big, Loud & Live.[e] In 2011, Fathom Events added the DCI Tour Premiere. DCI previously livestreamed a number of competitions throughout the season, including the entirety of World Championship, via the former "FanNetwork". FloSports engaged in a multi-year agreement to livestream select competitions via the FloMarching platform.
In 2013, DCI launched two new competitive musical activities for small groups: SoundSport and DrumLine Battle. These activities are not restricted by an age limit, nor do they have the same competitive requirements as drum corps. BANDtastic! began in 2014.
The stated goal of SoundSport is to provide a competitive performance experience in a low-cost, local setting. Musical ensembles of more than five members, using any musical instruments, perform a 5-7 minute marching music show in an area measuring 30 yards (27 m) × 20 yards (18 m).
Two SoundSport teams Guardians and Watchmen became an Open Class corps in the 2014. Southwind, inactive from 2007 to 2013, competed as a SoundSport team in 2014, and returned to competition an Open Class corps in 2015.
Intended for drumlines, or battery percussion ensembles with no wheeled percussion. Competing drumlines are staged in two competitive zones opposite each other, with each demonstrating their skills as an ensemble in alternating rounds of two minutes each. Adjudicators do not restrict their evaluation to technical proficiency, and include showmanship and audience reaction.
In 2014, E-Sarn from Thailand, competed in the DrumLine Battle held during World Championship week, defeating fifteen other competitors. River City Rhythm, from Anoka, Minnesota, also competed in 2014, becoming a touring corps in 2015.
BANDtastic is a program of middle school honor bands sponsored by DCI. The program originated in 2013 with the Indiana "INpact" honor band, organized in conjunction with World Championships. Similar groups have since been organized in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and most recently Minnesota.
The activities are held in conjunction with a local DCI competition, and World Class corps partner.
The week-long championship have been hosted at college or professional sports arenas in eighteen U.S cities and Montreal. Since 2009, World Class Championships have been hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2015, DCI announced World Championships would remain in Indianapolis through 2028. Championships were traditionally held the third week of August. However, the second week of August has been the preferred date due to trends in scholastic and collegiate schedules which pushed the start of the school year from early-September to late-August.[f]
In 2009 and 2010, the Open Class preliminary competition was hosted at Ames Field in Michigan City, Indiana with semifinals and finals hosted a Lucas Oil Stadium. From 2011 to 2018 the Open Class preliminaries and finals were hosted at Ames Field. Open Class Championship was moved to Wildcat Stadium on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana in 2019.
DrumLine Battle and SoundSport competitions were added to the week's activities in 2014.
Individual & Ensemble (I&E)
The Individual & ensemble festival, also known as I&E, is also hosted near the championship site. Participants from all member corps are eligible to compete demonstrating their ability on their preferred instrument, or as part of a small ensemble or instrument choir. Color guard and dance categories are also available.
In the 2005, I&E was expanded to include woodwind and vocal categories.
Classification and adjudication
DCI utilizes a single adjudication handbook with corps subdivided by size, and not skill level. A multi-tier classification and adjudication system was in use prior to 2008, with Division I and Division II / III utilizing different handbooks, while also being subdivided by size.
Currently, DCI groups corps from the US and Canada into two classes based on competitive level. Corps from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and anywhere other than the US and Canada are grouped into the International Class. Corps from all classes compete together but are ranked separately. In the past, classes have been fully or partially determined by the number of marching members in each corps; at present, all corps may march up to a maximum of one hundred fifty four (154) members.
World Class (formerly Division I) corps are the groups that have chosen to compete at the highest level and have proven to DCI leadership they have the ability to survive at this level both competitively and financially. The higher a corps is ranked at the DCI Championships, the higher the performance fees they will earn for the following season's performances.
Open Class (formerly Divisions II & III) corps are committed to a lesser competitive level and are generally smaller, although several corps have marched with maximum membership. In September 2007, DCI combined the former Divisions II and III into this new class.
International Class is for corps based outside the US and Canada who wish to compete at sanctioned competitions. Corps in this class are allowed to follow the guidelines of their national governing body, such as: no age restrictions, smaller membership requirements, or the use of woodwind instruments. International corps which abide by DCI rules would be eligible to compete as Open or World Class corps.
Historic classes and divisions
|Open Class||Open Class||Division I||World Class|
|Class A||Class A||Class A||Division II||Open Class|
|All-Girl||Class A60||Division III|
Source: 
- Open Class (1972–92) had a membership limit of 128.
- Class A generally had 90 members or fewer although the limit was 128.
- All-Girl Class was restricted to girls only: there was no equivalent all-boy class; the membership limit was 128.
- Class A60, and the later Division III, had a maximum of 60 members; a minimum of 30 members was added later.
- Division II had the same membership limit as Division I, but a generally lower level of competitive expertise.
- Prior to 2003, Division I was increased from 128 to 135.
- World Class, the current Open Class, and International Class all had a membership limit of 150 from 2007 through 2017.
- In 2018, the membership limit per corps was increased to 154.
DCI's Adjudication Manual is based on three broad categories, Visual, Music and Effect. Visual and Music categories are further subdivided into three analysis captions. If more than one adjudicator is utilized in any caption, their scores are averaged before being factored.
|Music||Brass (20) / 2||+||Music Analysis (20) / 2||=||30.00|
|Percussion (20) / 2|
|Visual||Color Guard (20) / 2||+||Visual Analysis (20) / 2||=||30.00|
|Visual Proficiency (20) / 2|
|Effect||General Effect 1 (20)||+||General Effect 2 (20)||=||40.00|
|Timing & Penalties||- 0.00|
All-age corps may request to be adjudicated using scoring sheets provided by DCA. Many All-age corps may compete exclusively at DCI sanctioned competitions prior to attending DCA World Championships, which is traditionally hosted Labor Day weekend.
Below is a list of past champions organized by class.[i] DCI reorganized its class structure in 1992, and again in 2008.
|Year||Open Class||Class A||All-Girl||Class A60||International[ii]|
|Santa Clara Vanguard|
|Santa Clara Vanguard (2)|
|Cadets of Greece
|St. Ignatius (2)|
|Blue Devils (2)||Bengal Lancers
|St. Ignatius (3)|
|Santa Clara Vanguard (3)||Black Watch[iii]
|Blue Devils (3)||Black Watch
|Blue Devils (4)||Ventures[iv]|
|Santa Clara Vanguard (4)||Southernaires
|Les Châtelaines (2)|
|Blue Devils (5)||Dutch Boy
|Les Châtelaines (3)|
|Garfield Cadets (2)||Florida Wave|
|Garfield Cadets (3)||Ventures (2)||St. Francis Xavier Sancians|
|Blue Devils (6)||Canadian Knights
|St. Francis Xavier Sancians (2)|
|Garfield Cadets (4)||Ventures (3)||Mandarins|
|Madison Scouts (2)||L'Insolites
|Mandarins (2)||British Crusaders[v]|
|Santa Clara Vanguard (5)||Ventures (4)||Blue Stars
|Cadets of Bergen County (5)
(previously the Garfield Cadets)
|Ventures (5)||Academie Musicale
|West Coast Cadets|
|Star of Indiana
|Year||Division I||Division II||—||Division III||International|
|Southwind (2)||Mandarins (3)||SGI Fuji|
|Cadets of Bergen County (6)||Carolina Crown
|Blue Stars (2)||Phoenix Regiment|
|Blue Devils (7)||Pioneer
|Americanos||Pride of Bristol|
|The Cavaliers (2)||Pioneer (2)||Academie Musicale
|Blue Devils (8)
|Les Etoiles Dorion Vaudreuil
|Mandarins (4)||Yokohama Scouts|
|Blue Devils (9)||Spartans
|Mandarins (5)||Pride of SOKA|
|Cadets of Bergen County (7)||East Coast Jazz
|Mandarins (6)||No champion|
|Blue Devils (10)
Santa Clara Vanguard (6)
|Mandarins (7)||Yokohama Scouts (2)|
|Cadets of Bergen County (8)
The Cavaliers (3)
|The Cavaliers (4)||Mandarins
|Blue Stars (3)||Taipei Yuehfu (2)|
|The Cavaliers (5)||Magic of Orlando
|Taipei Yuehfu (3)|
|Blue Devils (11)||Esperanza
|Blue Stars (4)||No champion|
|The Cavaliers (6)||Spartans (3)
[Division II / III Grand Champion]
|The Cadets (9)
(previously the Cadets of
[Division II Champion]
East Coast Jazz
[Division II / III Grand Champion]
|Taipei Yuehfu (4)|
|The Cavaliers (7)||The Academy
|Blue Devils (12)||Spartans (5)||Memphis Sound
|Yokohama Scouts (3)|
|Year||World Class||Open Class||—||—||International|
|Phantom Regiment (2)||Vanguard Cadets (2)||Beatrix (2)|
|Blue Devils (13)||Blue Devils B
|Blue Devils (14)||Blue Devils B (2)||Strängnäs|
|The Cadets (10)||Blue Devils B (3)||Yokohama Scouts (4)|
|Blue Devils (15)||Oregon Crusaders
|Vanguard Cadets (3)||Taipei Yuehfu (5)|
|Blue Devils (16)||Blue Devils B (4)||Patria|
|Blue Devils (17)||Vanguard Cadets (4)||Jubal (2)|
|Blue Devils B (5)||No champion|
|Blue Devils (18)||Vanguard Cadets (5)||The Company|
|Santa Clara Vanguard (7)||Vanguard Cadets (6)||Jubal (3)|
|Blue Devils (19)||Spartans (6)||No champions|
|Season cancelled[vi]||Season cancelled[vi]|
- DCI does not announce de facto champions for classes which are not in competition.
- Prior to 1988, corps from outside North America competed against other Open or A class corps, even if they did not meet membership requirements.
- The 1978 Class A Champions Black Watch was also known as Black Watch Highland Regiment.
- In 1980, the Championships for Class A and All-Girl were combined. Only one champion was announced.
- Dagenham Crusaders, from Dagenham, United Kingdom, competed in Open Class as the British Crusaders, due to the inclusion of members from other British drum corps. The Crusaders were announced as the 1988 International Class Champion instead of the Blue Eagles, from Basildon, United Kingdom, who competed in Class A.
- The 2020 competitive season was cancelled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Alliance was founded as the United Organization of Junior Corps (UOJC).
- The American Legion Uniformed Groups Rules Congress was likely simultaneous with, or after, a meeting of the National Executive Committee, October 20–21, 1971. Several primary sources list the founding date as "November 1971", others disagree saying "October 1971".
- Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) was an independent association of drum corps, while Drum Corps East was operated by DCI.
- World Championship Open Class finals from 1975 to 1991, and Division I finals from 1992 to 2005.
- Prior to 2011, Open Class quarterfinals performances were broadcast. From 2011 onward, performances from the preliminary "all-skate" were broadcast.
- Drum corps are housed at middle schools and high schools over night, and often rehearse on school grounds prior to competitions.
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