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Show Style Marching Band Formations

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While playing music during a field show, the band makes a series of formations on the field, which may be pictures, geometric shapes, curvilinear designs, or blocks of players. These maneuvers are collectively called drill. Typically, each band member has an assigned position in each formation. There are as many ways of getting from one formation to the next as there are bands:

  • each member can move independently  this is called scattering or "scatter drill"
  • all the members can move together without deforming the picture  this is called floating
  • the members can stay in their lines and arcs, but slowly deform the picture
  • the members can break into ranks or squads, each of which performs a maneuver (such as a  follow the leader) which may or may not be scripted  an unscripted move is sometimes called a rank option
  • each member may have a specifically scripted move to perform  in these cases, the desired visual effect is often the move itself and not the ending formation

Many bands use a combination of the above techniques, sometimes adding dance choreography that is done in place or while marching. Players may point the bells of their instruments in the direction they are moving, or slide (also called traverse) with all the bells facing in the same direction. Bands that march in time with the music typically also synchronize the direction of individuals' turns, and try to maintain even spacing between individuals in formations. Sometimes bands will specifically have wind players turn their instruments away from the audience in order to emphasize the dynamics of the music.

Auxiliaries can also add to the visual effect. Backdrops and props ("scrims") may be used on the field that fit the theme of the show or the music being performed. In comedic shows, particularly for university bands, an announcer may read jokes or a funny script between songs; formations that are words or pictures (or the songs themselves) may serve as punch lines.

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Below you will find examples of school formations.

School Formation Photo
Jackson State University JSU
Morris Brown College MB
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University FAMU
Southern University Starburst
Southern University Crossbox
Grambling State University Entrance
Grambling State University

 

"G"
Clark Atlanta University Dance Routine
Prairie View State University PVU
Grambling State University

 

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