In this contemporary marching band landscape the audio/visual/storytelling connection is more important than ever. As many of you know I’m all about that pacing formula, variety, features, etc. from a music standpoint. I’m learning however that we need to stretch that formula across the entire package working to maximize total variety and effect. I’m starting to see each show segment as a scene or set-piece where the scene should be planned wholistically. This may mean replacing our usual storyboards with a narrative about not only the entire show but a narrative about each show section first before distilling into a more traditional storyboard. I find successful shows to have 7-8 segments. It’s OK to have music in mind to inspire the concept and process, but before making definite music choices thoughts about the entire audio/visual coordination should be considered. Music and the orchestration is typically the most malleable part of the design but often we lock that in first.

The general show narrative can provide a framework for the story/concept but the segment narratives should not be abstract or ethereal, rather nuts and bolts. This would mean bringing in the visual designers early in the process.

For example, scene one: Trumpet soloist in front right corner playing theme from “name your song” on prop, drone like ostinato from front ensemble to set mysterious mood, half-guard on saber around soloist, silks in texture in negative space, other winds hidden behind backdrops. Scene evolves as winds slowly appear and flutter to scattered set to dance dialogue with silks during trumpet solo. Solo finishes and winds take over playing backfield, still holding in scattered sets, silks move and carry visual focus/eye, sabers will equipment change to same silk. All move to concrete set, can be linear or texture, full field color and integration with guard, winds turn home for first hit (stationary). –You could even get more specific.

I know many of us came from the “music dictates visual” mindset and there is no issue continuing that way. Again, this is just food for thought. However, if we take the scene/narrative approach I can easily take that narrative and essentially “film score” music to match (based on whatever source music inspired the concept), which theoretically should make your visual designers life easier and provide much stronger overall coordination. You can plan out an entire show of scenes from the start that have variety from each other, and hit all the “criteria”.  Filtering each scene through the general story/concept is what provides overall continuity.