Recently, my family and I took a trip out to Disneyland and we got to go to the new Cars Land at California Adventure. It was a great area that they put a lot of thought into, obviously. However, the task must have been quite simple for them as all they had to do, and did, was copy the layout of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars and just make that a reality.
What you see in the movie is what you got. It was the exact same, with additions of rides, shops and restaurants. But these added attractions didn’t change the way the town was laid out. No, instead they fit these attractions into the existing town, because the imagineers knew they had something special that didn’t need changing. As the old expression goes- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This is where I think marching band designers need to take note. Many times we feel the need to break pieces of music and make them unrecognizable. Sure you need to change and add things to the music to make it fit the field, but fit those effects within the music. Think of it like a town, like Radiator Springs, for example. Are you adding details and attractions to your town or are you bulldozing everything down and starting from scratch? Will people still recognize your town after you are done, or will they be confused and think they went the wrong direction (when it really isn’t their fault for being confused).
What if the imagineers at Disney decided to leave out the Cozy Cones Hotel and instead added a Toy Story attraction? That wouldn’t make much sense would it? But that is what a lot of music arrangers are doing these days. Make yourselves look good and don’t think too hard. Leave the Cozy Cones in and worry about other stuff to add to the show to make it better. Are your decisions confusing the audience or helping them get excited about your product?
In contrast, what if Cars Land was built without adding anything? Sure, that would have been cool, but after an hour people would have gotten bored and less likely to return in the future. Cars Land needed additional attractions than what was offered in the movie, but the key was adding those attractions in without altering the mood of the area.
Point is, if you have something great to work with let that speak. You were attracted to it to begin with for a reason. If you do it right it will be one of those shows that people will go back to listen to time and time again. If you don’t, then people won’t even care to listen the first time. Make your show attractive by adding attraction to it, not by taking it away.