MHS Marching Band

Current Production

The Mukwonago High School Marching Band is proud to present their 2019 production...

Electromagnetic

Musical Selections

"Shofukan" - Snarky Puppy
"Binky" - Snarky Puppy

"Thing of Gold" - Snarky Puppy

Original Vocals recorded by Megan Budway

Design

Music & Visual Design - Rick Schadt

Colorguard Design & Choreography - Casey Kotowski

Show Announcement

About this Production

"Electromagnetic" is designed around the idea of attraction (both magnetic as well as interpersonal attraction) and how opposing elements and ideas interact when combined in different ways. Various representations of a heart can be found throughout the show both musically and visually. When complete, a heart is a the symbol of love or attraction. Conversely, a broken heart conveys a deep (yet often unattainable) sense of longing. The 'crack' seen in many of the hearts (including the show logo) is in the shape of a lightning bolt, symbolic of the 'electricity' needed to pull the pieces back together. 

When the design staff was first considering the music of Snarky Puppy, they were focused on finding something that would excite students and audiences alike. The simple yet memorable melodies and tight grooves made pieces such as "Shofukan" and "Thing of Gold" strong candidates. As the staff listened more deeply, it also became apparent that their music naturally demonstrates the interaction of opposing elements in several ways... acoustic vs electronic instruments... predetermined melodic structure vs improvisation... slow vs fast... flowing vs rhythmically complex. This can be most easily heard in the opening minutes of "Shofukan", which was used to start the second movement of the show (more on this later).

Uniform Mock-Ups for Hornline & Percussion

The second movement explores the nearly endless combinations of opposing forces. It begins with the colorguard moving the magnet props to form a dividing wall down the middle of the field with the blue and red sections of the band separated while the vocals describe several of the opposites that will be explored: "North and South... Red and Blue... Push and Pull... Me and You". Each of these are represented in the drill as the blue and red sections form opposing symbols while the colorguard and percussion keep them separated. The idea of opposites is further punctuated by the music which constantly oscillates between flowing wind melodies (visually stationary) and driving percussive transitions (rapid movement). 

"Electromagnetic" Show Logo

The first movement of the show - which begins with the vocals "Attraction... Repulsion...  Can't Resist, it's Electric" - focuses on the idea of magnetic forces at work. The most obvious examples of magnetic attraction can be seen in the uniform and prop design where the North and South poles of a magnet are represented through the colors of red and blue. The hornline is split into two visually distinct sections - woodwinds in blue (positive) and brass in red (negative). Similarly, the props (giant bar magnets that can be pushed around the field to manipulate the hornline) also have red and blue ends. As the props are moved near the hornline, they are repelled or attracted depending on the color of their uniform. The percussion and colorguard sections (wearing silver) are neutral, a combination of both positive and negative, essentially providing a 'charge' to the magnets through their interactions. Given the mechanical nature of magnetism, it is not a coincidence that movement 1 is the most industrial and synthetic sounding portion of the show. 

An example of a drill move from the 2nd movement

The halfway point of the second movement signals a momentous shift through a drastic shift in tempo (half as fast as earlier) and through the introduction of a flugelhorn soloist. While everything up to this point has been structured and driving, the solo in this slower tempo feels improvised. Similarly, the drill has a somewhat looser feel as the woodwinds (in blue) make their way to the far side of the field where the brass (red) waits near the magnet props. As the solo progresses, the marching ensemble gradually starts displaying more character. Once the blue and red meet (forming a winding "DNA Strand" around the magnets), they weave through one another until each member has found a suitable partner in the opposite color. The movement ends with all of the pairings surrounding the soloist as they perform a heart-felt rendition of "Thing of Gold".

Movement 3 returns to "Binky" (the same tune used for much of the opener) but this time focusing on the 2nd half of the tune and the feeling of romantic attraction. After a short transition, the red and blue members are again all paired up. The heartbeat sound from the beginning of the show is heard once again, but this time faster, symbolizing the feeling of "butterflies in your stomach" one sometimes gets when seeing a crush. The remainder of the movement is a Dance Break accompanied by various lyrics emphasizing the idea of "I'm attracted to you."

The final movement features the formation of a completed heart (half red, half blue) while two soloists (also one red, one blue) trade back and forth before playing the same line together as if the two broken pieces have now finally become whole. The show ends musically with a reprise of "Thing of Gold".

About "Snarky Puppy"

The last four years have brought dramatic changes for Snarky Puppy.

After a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred/New York-based quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all three of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016 and 2017), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”

Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 25 members in regular rotation. They each maintain busy schedules as sidemen (with such artists as Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and D’Angelo), producers (for Kirk Franklin, David Crosby, and Salif Keïta), and solo artists (many of whom are on the band’s indy label, GroundUP Music). At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.

The band was formed by bassist and primary composer Michael League in 2003, starting inconspicuously enough as a group of college friends at the University of North Texas’ Jazz Studies program. Three years later, a serendipitous intersection with the Dallas gospel and R&B community in Dallas transformed the music into something funkier, more direct, and more visceral. It was at this time that the group absorbed musicians like Robert “Sput” Searight (drums), Shaun Martin (keyboards), and Bobby Sparks (keyboards), and were heavily influenced by legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller).

(Bio from https://snarkypuppy.com/about)

Snarky Puppy (from https://snarkypuppy.com/)

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