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Drum Corps International

Drum Corps International
Drum Corps International logo
Type Drum and Bugle Corps
Location 23x15px United States
23x15px Canada
Founded 1972
No. of corps 50 (World & Open Classes)
First champions Anaheim Kingsmen
Current champions Blue Devils (World Class);
Blue Devils B (Open Class)
23x15px Patria
(International Class)

Drum Corps International (DCI), formed in 1972, is the non-profit governing body for junior drum and bugle corps in the U.S.A. and Canada. Junior corps are composed of members 21 years of age and younger. DCI is composed of member corps who have earned their membership through competition. It is responsible for developing and enforcing the rules of competition and is the sanctioning body for junior corps competitions. DCI is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its Board of Directors is composed primarily of directors of the member corps.

The stated purpose of a DCI corps is " provide a life changing experience for youth through the art of marching music performance." The DCI competitive summer tour, consisting of DCI-sanctioned competitions throughout the United States, culminates in August with the week-long DCI World Championships.[1][2]

Other drum corps associations around the world are largely based upon DCI.

Class structure

The Madison Scouts, a DCI World Class member corps and two-time DCI World Champions

Currently, DCI assigns North American corps to two classes, and corps from Europe and Asia are assigned to the International Class. Corps from all classes often compete together, but are judged and 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 (150) members.

  • World Class (formerly Division I) corps are the corps that have chosen to compete at the highest level and that have shown the DCI leadership that 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 generally smaller or committed to a lesser competitive level. In September 2007, DCI combined the former Divisions II and III into this new division.[3][4]
  • International Class is for corps based outside North America that wish to participate in DCI competitions. Corps in this class are allowed to follow certain of their own country’s organizational guidelines which are not allowed for North American corps, such as a higher maximum age limit. International corps which abide by DCI rules, however, would be eligible to march in Open or World Class.[3]

Historic classes and divisions

Source: [5]

1972-1974 1975-1982 1983-1984 1985-1991 1992-2007 2008–Present
Open Class Open Class Open Class Open Class Division I World Class
Class A Class A Class A Division II Open Class
All-Girl Class A60 Division III

Class and division membership limits

  • Open Class (1972–92) had a membership limit of 128.
  • Class A generally had 90 members or fewer.
  • All-Girl Class was for corps with membership restricted to girls only: there was no such class for corps restricted to all-boy membership.
  • Class A60 and the later Division III had a maximum of 60 members; a controversial 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.
  • Division I went from an original membership limit of 128 to 135.
  • World Class, the new Open Class, and International Class all have a membership limit of 150.

Drum corps season

Prior to the advent of DCI, many locals corps were a year-round youth activity. Still, the competitive season generally ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which essentially coincided with the school systems' summer break.[5]

File:Bluecoats' convoy.jpg
The present–day Bluecoats' convoy is typical for a DCI World Class corps in 2014. (Click to enlarge.)

Today, drum corps is often still a year-long activity, but not in the same manner. Where once memberships were almost entirely local, many corps now have a membership drawn from all over North America and the world. Therefore, off-season activities occur during "camp" weekends. At the early camps, potential members audition for membership in the corps. Later, the members gather monthly or bimonthly to work in preparation for the summer. As the season nears, many corps go into intense, full-time camps, with the members "moving in" and spending days on end in preparation for going "on tour."

At the present time, the competitive season begins in mid-June and ends with the DCI World Championships during the second week of August.

For members of all World Class corps and the most competitive Open Class corps, the activity is a full-time summer commitment. Members travel from show site to show site, performing in competitions and parades across North America nearly non-stop until the DCI Championships. Corps travel by coach buses in convoy with semi-trailer trucks holding equipment and field kitchens. Once on the road, members generally sleep on the buses as the corps travels at night, and in sleeping bags on school gym floors when their next destination is reached. The corps practice their shows for as long as the schedule allows during the day, and then they go to the stadium for the local competition. After each show is over, the cycle repeats, with only a few breaks in the cycle for laundry days and an occasional free day for relaxation.

Some corps have neither the finances nor the member commitment to spend the entire summer "on tour." Some of these corps restrict themselves to local competitions only. Others may delay the start of their touring, marching only a short season on the way to the DCI Championships.

DCI age limit

Drum corps as governed by DCI is a youth activity. As such, there is an age limit, usually stated as "for members 21 years of age and younger." Under the rules, a person who has turned 22 before June 1 of the year is ineligible to march. If, however, a young person does not turn 22 until the 1st of June or later, he or she remains eligible for that season.[6] Those over the age limit are able to march in the senior or all-age corps of Drum Corps Associates.

Some European and Asian associations allow their "youth" to be up to 25 years old. Corps from those associations are allowed to compete at the DCI World Championships in the International Class.

File:Cavaliers 2004 dci world championships.jpg
The Cavaliers, a DCI World Class member corps and seven-time DCI World Champions.

DCI Championships

The DCI Championships, first contested in 1972, are the culmination of the drum corps season.[2] Originally held during the third weekend in August, this has moved to the week of the second weekend in August, as the school year has lengthened and the Championship activities have increased.

Over the years, the DCI Championships were held in college or professional sports stadiums in eighteen U.S and Canadian cities, spread from Montreal in the north to Miami in the south, and from Philadelphia in the east to Pasadena in the west.[5] Since 2009, however, the Championships have been based in Indiana, with the Open Class Championships being held at Ames Field in Michigan City and the World Class Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. DCI plans to remain at the current venues until at least 2018.[7]

Beginning in 1975, the DCI Championship Finals were televised on PBS.[8] From 2006 to 2007, they were carried on ESPN2.[9] Although the Finals have not been broadcast live in several years, since 2004, the quarterfinals have been screened live at a large number of movie theaters across the country.[10]

During championships week, in addition to the Open Class and World Class Championships, Individual & Ensemble (I&E) competitions are also held, typically at an indoor facility near the championship stadium. Members of all corps are able to compete, and participating members often use much of their limited free time to prepare their I&E routines. There are a great number of categories or captions for each individual brass and percussion instruments, for auxiliary (aka "color guard") equipment, and for brass, percussion, auxiliary, and mixed ensembles. In the 2005 season, I&E included woodwind instruments for the first time, in recognition that many marching members play instruments other than brass and percussion.

Drum Corps International champions by year and division or class


Year Open Class / Division I / World Class Class A / Division II / Open Class All-Girl Class Class A60 / Division III International Class
See Note A
1972 Anaheim Kingsmen (CA) N/A N/A N/A N/A
1973 Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) N/A N/A N/A N/A
1974 Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (2) N/A N/A N/A N/A
1975 Madison Scouts (WI) Cadets of Greece (NY) St. Ignatius (NY) N/A N/A
1976 Blue Devils (CA) Wausau Story (WI) St. Ignatius (NY) (2) N/A N/A
1977 Blue Devils (CA) (2) Bengal Lancers (CT) St. Ignatius (NY) (3) N/A N/A
1978 Santa Clara Vanguard (CA)(3) Black Watch (WA) Les Chatelaines (QUE) N/A N/A
1979 Blue Devils (CA) (3) Black Watch (NJ) Arbella (MA) N/A N/A
1980 Blue Devils (CA) (4) Ventures (ONT) Ventures (ONT) N/A N/A
1981 Santa Clara Vanguard (CA)(4) Southernairs (LA) Les Chatelaines (QUE) (2) N/A N/A
1982 Blue Devils (CA) (5) Dutch Boy (ONT) Les Chatelaines (QUE) (3) N/A N/A
1983 Garfield Cadets (NJ) Les Chatelaines (QUE) N/A N/A N/A
1984 Garfield Cadets (NJ) (2) Florida Wave (FL) N/A N/A N/A
1985 Garfield Cadets (NJ) (3) Ventures (ONT) (2) N/A St. Francis Xavier Sancians (MA) N/A
1986 Blue Devils (CA) (6) Canadian Knights (ONT) N/A St. Francis Xavier Sancians (MA) (2) N/A
1987 Garfield Cadets (NJ) (4) Ventures (ONT) (3) N/A Mandarins (CA) N/A
1988 Madison Scouts (WI) (2) L'Insolites (QUE) N/A Mandarins (CA) (2) British (Dagenham) Crusaders 23x15px (UK)
1989 Santa Clara Vanguard (CA)(5) Ventures (ONT) (4) N/A Blue Stars (WI) ---
1990 Cadets Of Bergen County (NJ) (5) Ventures (ONT) (5) N/A Academie Musicale (QUE) West Coast Cadets 23x15px (UK)
1991 Star Of Indiana (IN) Southwind (AL) N/A Pioneer (WI) ---
1992 The Cavaliers (IL) Southwind (AL) (2) N/A Mandarins (CA) (3) SGI Fuji Template:Country data Japan (Japan)
1993 Cadets of Bergen County (NJ) (6) Carolina Crown (NC) N/A Blue Stars (WI) (2) Phoenix Regiment Template:Country data Japan (Japan)
1994 Blue Devils (CA) (7) Pioneer (WI) N/A Americanos (WI) Pride of Bristol 23x15px (UK)
1995 The Cavaliers (IL) (2) Pioneer (WI) (2) N/A Academie Musicale (QUE) Bay Max Template:Country data Japan (Japan)
1996 Blue Devils (CA) (8)
Phantom Regiment (IL)
Les Etoiles Dorion Vaudreuil (QUE) N/A Mandarins (CA) (4) Yokohama Scouts Template:Country data Japan (Japan)
1997 Blue Devils (CA) (9) Spartans (NH) N/A Mandarins (CA) (5) Pride of Soka Template:Country data Japan (Japan)
1998 Cadets of Bergen County (NJ) (7) East Coast Jazz (MA)
Spartans (NH) (2)
N/A Mandarins (CA) (6) ---
1999 Blue Devils (CA) (10)
Santa Clara Vanguard (CA)(6)
Patriots (NY) N/A Mandarins (CA) (7) Yokohama Scouts Template:Country data Japan (Japan) (2)
2000 The Cadets (PA) (8)
The Cavaliers (IL) (3)
Vanguard Cadets (CA) N/A Cascades (WA) Taipei Yuehfu 23x15px (Taiwan)
2001 The Cavaliers (IL) (4) Mandarins (CA) N/A Blue Stars (WI) (3) Taipei Yuehfu 23x15px (Taiwan) (2)
2002 The Cavaliers (IL) (5) Magic of Orlando (FL) N/A Revolution (TX) Taipei Yuehfu 23x15px (Taiwan) (3)
2003 Blue Devils (CA) (11) Esperanza (CA) N/A Blue Stars (WI) (4) ---
2004 The Cavaliers (IL) (6) Spartans (NH) (3) N/A Oregon Crusaders (OR) Beatrix 23x15px (Netherlands)
2005 The Cadets (PA) (9) Spartans (NH) (DII)(2)
East Coast Jazz (MA) (DII/III) (2)
See Note B
N/A Raiders (NJ) Taipei Yuehfu 23x15px (Taiwan) (4)
2006 The Cavaliers (IL) (7) The Academy (AZ) N/A Impulse! (CA) Jubal 23x15px (Netherlands)
2007 Blue Devils (CA) (12) Spartans (NH) (5) N/A Memphis Sound Yokohama Scouts Template:Country data Japan (Japan) (3)
2008 Phantom Regiment (IL) (2) Vanguard Cadets (CA) (2) N/A N/A Beatrix 23x15px (Netherlands) (2)
2009 Blue Devils (CA) (13) Blue Devils B (CA) N/A N/A ---
2010 Blue Devils (CA) (14) Blue Devils B (CA) (2) N/A N/A Stragnas 23x15px (Sweden)
2011 The Cadets (PA) (10) Blue Devils B (CA) (3) N/A N/A Yokohama Scouts Template:Country data Japan (Japan) (4)
2012 Blue Devils (CA) (15) Oregon Crusaders (OR) N/A N/A ---
2013 Carolina Crown (SC) Vanguard Cadets (CA) (3) N/A N/A Taipei Yuehfu 23x15px (Taiwan) (5)
2014 Blue Devils (CA) (16) Blue Devils B (CA) (4) N/A N/A Patria 23x15px (Guatemala)

Note A: Some associations outside the U.S.A and Canada allow members to march until as late as age 25. Therefore, corps from those associations can march with, but not in direct competition with, Open Class corps. The highest scoring of these corps at the DCI World Championships is named the International Class champion. There are some years when no corps from outside the U.S.A and Canada attended World Championships, so no International champion is named for those years. (Prior to 1988, international corps were allowed to compete against North American corps, despite variations in elegibility.)

Note B: In 2005, Spartans won the Division II Finals. However, in 2004 and 2005, DCI also had a Division II/II Grand Finals for the corps with the 12 highest scores in Division II and Division III Finals; this was won by East Coast Jazz.

Corps with five or more Drum Corps International titles

Corps Open Class /
Division I /
World Class
Class A /
Division II /
Open Class
Class A60 /
Division III
All-Girl International
Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
Ventures Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px
Taipei Yeuhfu Drum and Bugle Corps 23x15px


DCI and the individual drum corps derive a large part of their revenues from marketing their product. DCI not only sells tickets to its sanctioned competitions, but it is also the primary distributor of audio and video merchandise for the junior drum and bugle corps activity, mainly via its web site.

The DCI videos are produced by professionals who primarily work for the major broadcast and cable television networks. Audio products have often been produced by Grammy Award winning recording engineers.[5]

Other DCI activities

In early 2013, Drum Corps International launched two new competitive musical activities for small groups. Unlike DCI's drum corps, units in these activities are not restricted by age limits or a short competitive season. Both activities have seen immediate interest, with many groups forming around the world. Nations where these activities are growing include the U.S.A., Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Ireland.[12]

DrumLine Battle™

Drum line battles have been going on for years, but not in a formal, competitive format. In DrumLine Battle™, drum lines of up to 30 marching members (no grounded percussion) compete in head-to-head judged competition. The competitions may be held either live and face-to-face or online, allowing groups from all over the world to compete against each other. Judging criteria is not restricted to technical proficiency, but includes showmanship and attitude. (E-Sarn, a drum line from Thailand, traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the DrumLine Battle™ contest held during DCI Championship week and defeated the drum lines from 15 U.S. drum corps and marching bands.)[13][14]


The stated goal of SoundSport® is to provide the drum corps competitive performance experience in a low-cost, local setting. Musical ensembles of 5 to 50 members, using any musical instruments, perform a 5-7 minute marching music show in an area measuring 70' wide by 50' deep.[15][16]

Two 2013 SoundSport® teams (Guardians and Watchmen) became DCI Open Class corps for the 2014 season.[17] Former DCI member corps Southwind, inactive since 2007 and the new River City Rhythm, performed as SoundSport® teams in 2014, and both move to DCI competition as Open Class corps in 2015.[18]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Drum Corps International: The First Decade: 1972-1981; Nicholas Waerzeggars; Drum Corps World; 2012
  3. ^ a b "Speaking with one voice: The advent of ‘Open Class’". Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  4. ^ "DCI Executive Committee approves formation of ‘Open Class’". Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d A History of Drum & Bugle Corps, Vols. 1 & 2; Steve Vickers; Drum Corps World; 2002 & 2003
  6. ^ Tannert, Emily. "The Ageout rule". Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "DCI Moving Headquarters, World Championships to Indianapolis", Drum Corps World, 8/29/2006
  8. ^ DCI Broadcast Schedule, DCI News, 8/23/2004
  9. ^ DCI on ESPN2 -- tune in on Sept. 6, DCI News, 8/17/2005
  10. ^ "Coming soon to a theater near you: A larger-than-life DCI experience!". April 23, 2004. Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Three new Open Class corps set to join the 2015 DCI Tour". Drum Corps International. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 

External links