The Indoor Percussion culture is one of the newest genres of marching percussion. Getting its footing in the mid-late 80s, indoor percussion started with various events that showcased marching percussion lines performing isolated events aside from the main marching band/drum corps ensembles.
As the demand and complexity of the activity grew, so did the need for different regulations and environments which helped lead to the formation and inclusion of indoor percussion circuits. In some cases indoor percussion classifications were added to already existing organizations such as Winterguard International (also known as WGI).
Winterguard International, 2012 Percussion World Championships Montage
As the indoor percussion activity has grown, so has the need for elevated musicianship, design, and professionalism. Most groups at the elite levels of World-Class spend hundreds of hours during the weekends of a season perfecting a production that has been designed by the best marching arts professionals and being taught by the highest-caliber of educators from around the world. A typical production can last anywhere from 4-minutes up to 8-minutes and feature thousands of dollars in props, uniforms/costumes, music, and other specialty items such as electronics and narration.
While most groups opt to create a story-based production, some groups create abstract shows that allow the viewer to interpret their meaning and enhance the creativity and artistry of the performers.
Marching Indoor Percussion productions include the use of movement through drill design and choreography, musical composition & effects, and will sometimes also include narration to help guide the audience through the story that is being told.
Every designer can choose to use their own original musical compositions, or they can arrange already created pieces whether it be classical, pop, or any other genre that fits their theme.
Marching & Concert Percussion productions are designed for indoor facilities with percussion-only instruments.
Indoor Percussion is commonly classified into multiple categories, with the top dividing factor being Independent or Scholastic ensembles. Independent groups are comprised of members ranging from elementary thru college, and are not bound by most school-district policies and regulations. These groups are mostly self-sustaining and funded through membership fees and sponsorships.
Scholastic groups are comprised of K-12 age students that are enrolled at their school or a combined group of schools within their local district. These groups are bound by the policies and regulations that are set by the State & Federal laws, and most times operate as either a core or extracurricular activity for their schools program.
Beyond those classifications are the skill level classifications that include A-Class (Beginner/Novice), Open-Class (Intermediate), and World-Class (Advanced). Each skill level is determined by the ensembles staff, while also being evaluated by each circuits judges and administration to ensure that members are being judged accurately at their achieveable skill level
The use of equipment varies greatly from group to group and is based on the needs of the music and the ensemble. Most groups utilize a full battery section (Snare, Multi-Tenor, Bass, Cymbals), and a complete front ensemble (Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Electronics, Drumset, Aux. Percussion., etc.)
Most circuits do not have limitations on instrumentation for percussion, other than they must be performed in real-time and triggered by a performer. While outside instruments such as wind & string instruments are not allowed as the main instrumentation for groups, they are still permitted in soloist & featured scenarios.
Vessel Indoor Percussion, 2018
The Concert Indoor Percussion classification is another staple in the world of the indoor percussion activity, and allows ensembles the opportunity to focus on their musical & artistry abilities without the need to focus on marching and visual elements.
Some schools create dual-ensembles which allow their students to participate in both concert and marching ensembles and gain more knowledge on different instruments and allowing them to become more well-rounded percussionists.