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Indoor percussion ensemble

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Indoor percussion ensemble

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An indoor percussion ensemble or indoor drumline consists of the marching percussion and front ensemble (or pit) sections of a marching band or drum corps. It marries elements of music performance, marching, and theater; thus, the activity is often referred to as percussion theater. Although most indoor percussion ensembles are affiliated with high schools, there are also many independent groups that draw participants from a large area. Independent groups typically start rehearsing in October and groups associated with high schools start after marching band season ends in November or December, and the season culminates with national championships in April.

Notable groups include Music City Mystique, Rhythm X, Blue Knights, RCC, Northcoast Academy, Aimachi, Pulse Percussion, Matrix, Eastside Fury, and Surround Sound.



Over the past 20 years, marching percussion has advanced and moved into auditoriums and gymnasiums as percussion ensembles looked for ways to maintain their skills during the winter months when performing outdoors on football fields was not practical. Following in the footsteps of indoor guard ensembles, indoor percussion ensembles arrange music and motion appropriate for a more intimate setting. The activity is enjoyed throughout the United States and Japan, as Winter Guard International (WGI) provides many regional and national opportunities to compete. Percussion ensembles first appeared in WGI shows in 1992, and the theatrics, sets, and music selection has advanced throughout the activity's history. There are many organizations unaffiliated with WGI that hold smaller regional shows.

Competitive groups are held to specific times and judged on criteria that change every season as technology and creativity blossom. These ensembles compete, but traditionally, the musical sport is treated as a place to grow together as a community, learn new techniques, and enjoy the work done by peers from across the country.


Music is arranged based on original works, as well as recreations of movie themes, popular music, classical music, and more. Instrumentation is anything that would or could be used under the percussion category of any musical group, including: snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, cymbals, xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones, tambourines, chimes, timpani, drum kits, and other similar instruments. Electronic instruments such as guitars and synthesizers are also allowed - however, no prerecorded music may be played. Unconventional instruments such as trash cans, barrels, pipes, brooms, and other things that make percussive sounds are sometimes used.


A notable difference used in indoor percussion is all toe-down marching. Marching within indoor percussion is much more fluid in contrast with corps style marching and is much more group dependent due to the lack of yard lines. Some indoor ensembles even incorporate basic dance moves into their shows for a more dramatic effect.

Set designs

Depending on the financial situation and the creative design team, sets can be created to help the audience engage the performance to a greater depth. Painted floor coverings and backdrops are used to portray a story as the group performs the music in and around the props. Most upper level groups have large nylon-vinyl tarps that cover an entire gym floor.

Sets must also be designed to function within the space provided. If a performance is in a gym, the materials must be able to enter the gym. If the performance is in a stadium type gym, then doors and openings are easier to access. Height is also an issue if the roof of the performance room is low.

There are strict rules on the area sets can be placed on and the time a group is allowed to set them up. Violations of these rules result in score deductions.


At first, indoor percussion ensembles wore traditional marching band uniforms. As shows and concepts increased in detail, uniforms were left behind, and theatrical costumes took their place. Costumes could be as simple as jeans and t-shirts for a rendition of West Side Story or as complicated as special jumpsuits with chains and feathers to portray a show like Cirque Du Soleil, though many groups use more modern uniforms.

Influence on drum corps

Some drum corps, most notably The Cadets, have attempted to make their outdoor field shows more intimate and theatrical like indoor percussion shows. The Cadets have taken ideas pioneered indoors to the field, such as the "Gods of Quads" tenor feature and "drum speak" feature, originally developed by the Ponderosa High School and Mission Viejo High School indoor percussion ensembles respectively.

Indoor Drumline Circuits (external)

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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