WHAT IS THE PERFECT DOT-MATRIX IMAGE FOR THE SEGUE FROM 'THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER' TO 'YOU BE ILLIN'?: What, I was wondering today, is the current program, the mission, of the art form known as marching band? I don't mean this as a swipe at marching musicians, though perhaps it is inevitable that this will read that way. It's just that I have never really grasped what took over when the productive marriage between band and military drill faded into anachronism.
Are marching musicians marchers or musicians first? Does the formation serve as decoration for the music, or is the music just accompaniment for the field show (and if either, wouldn't you expect either better music or a better show)? Or are they both supposed to enhance the other, like the way that a great song is always better than the sum of its music and lyrics? Or is it none of the above -- just a way for a bunch of like-minded kids to goof off at football games? Do the marchers perform for the audience, or despite it? I just don't get what we're trying to accomplish here.