Pop Viz: History of Drum Corps

March 5, 2014

If you haven’t already seen the news, we’ve announced the first two themes of this year’s Iron Viz feeder contests. The first contest, which starts next Monday is going to have a Sports theme. This was problematic for me because I don’t know ANYTHING about sports. Aside from one really poor season of track and field in 7th grade, I’ve never really played sports. I was always more of a band/drama/dance kind of person.

But I was on a team. I was on a team that practiced harder and longer than most sports teams at my school did. I was on a team that was driven and consumed by a desire to be champions. I was on a team that was not only about physical coordination, but also teamwork, synchronicity, musicality, and artistry. I did marching band.

Marching band taught me about teamwork and perseverance. It helped an awkward, skinny teenage nerd like myself feel coordinated and graceful. And the year that I was drum major (that’s the person who conducts the band), my arms rivaled Michelle Obama’s. Marching band was also how I first learned the rules of football and basketball; when I was drum major, I had to know when to queue up certain songs, so I had to learn to follow the games.

Best outfit ever

Competitive high school band is one thing, but there is actually a “professional” side to this sport, Drum Corps International. Every summer, groups of incredibly talented high school and college students battle it out in competitions all over the United States as a part of DCI. If you are still skeptical about the legitimacy of marching band as a sport, consider that they actually played DCI championships on ESPN. So, yeah, it’s totally a sport. And it’s awesome. And I made a dashboard of it that includes videos so that you can fully see how awesome it is.

You can click on the logo of a corps to view their score history, some facts about them and see an example of one of their performances. On the bottom half of the viz, you can click a corps on the bottom left bar chart to filter the bottom right to just their winning shows. And you can click on the bars in the Winning Shows chart to view those in the youtube player. I got all the data from Corpsreps.com, which I scraped using, you guessed it, import.io. Here it is:

Learn About Tableau

As you can see, the Blue Devils pretty much dominate everything, and for good reason. They are incredible. Former Blue Devils coached and wrote the show for our high school marching band one year and we won our division in the state championships. This is going to look pretty mediocre if you’ve watched some of the amazing performances in my dashboard above, but trust me, it was super cool. I was marching tenor saxophone in this performance and it was the most fun I had in all of high school.

I might post some tutorial-like stuff about this dashboard later. If there’s anything you are curious about with how I got the data or made the viz, feel free to leave me a comment or drop me a line on Twitter. I will definitely be following this up with a viz about another nerdy, sport-ish thing I participated in, Winterguard, aka “The Sport of the Arts.” Because dancing around with swords is DEFINITELY a sport.

I'm not sure how I never poked my eye out.

#Main #Pop Viz
Heidi Barnes
April 14, 2016 @ 8:12 am

Hi Jewel!
This viz was recently used as an example in our local user group meeting and I almost immediately jumped out of my seat! I’m am an alum of The Cadets and like most drum corps people, I’m always surprised to meet someone that knows anything about drum corps, let alone watch my two worlds come together like this! I love what you did with the DCI data using Tableau!! So cool!!
Curious what winterguard you marched with?? I aged out of Emerald Marquis!!

    April 14, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

    Glad you liked it! I never marched with a world guard or drum corps. I just did it in high school. Though it definitely stayed with me. Put anything mildly flag/saber/rifle shaped in my head and you bet your ass I’ll be spinning it. I also frequently hear songs that make me think “OMG THIS NEEDS TO BE A GUARD SHOW.” and imagine the whole thing in my head.


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