General Effect matters and here’s the proof.

At some point, I fully expect someone to ask me why I would create a blog that looks at the marching arts solely from a general effect and visual perspective. Well, there are a few reasons why this site is dedicated to these categories.

First, I am by far not an expert musician or an expert in musical evaluation. That isn’t to say that I can’t draw a correlation between how a music interplay’s with the visual portion of a program. Sure, I was a band geek having played guitar, tuba, baritone and even some percussion. I have not, however, written any music or taught music to any group on the field. I may have, on occasion, asked a director “Hey, can we do this musically to support this visually?” a time or two.

I have, however, helped develop a program, written drill, taught color guard and even participated in theater. Growing up, my mother dabbled in a variety of visual arts so that experience helped me look at the arts from different perspectives.

More importantly, this site is dedicated to the design of the overall program and its visual elements because they matter the most – particularly when it comes to the general effect category. Don’t believe me? Here is a quick statistic, based on data provided on, where the corps who has won overall GE, has taken home the top prize.

In 2015, The Cadets swept the music category but finished fourth overall behind Carolina Crown, Blue Devils and the Bluecoats. All three of those corps were top three in the general effect category. The following year, the Bluecoats ranked first in general effect, but second in visual and music.

Want to get into the Top 12? You had better be in that range at the end of Semi-Finals, another trend the last 10 years. There are some exceptions, but they were all with those hovering around vying for that last spot. No corps has ever ranked lower than 13th in general effect in semi-finals and made the cut for the Top 12. The only exception the last ten years is the Madison Scouts who ranked 14th in general effect in 2008. In that year, both the Crossmen (12) and Colts (13) ranked higher but did not make the Top 12.

Judges have already had an initial look at the majority of the corps in World Class this season. So far, the corps overall rankings are nearly identical to their GE ranking. No other category matches up to the overall ranking as well as general effect does. The only corps who are bucking the trend are the Bluecoats, Carolina Crown, Crossmen and the Blue Stars. However, all are currently ranked in the Top 12 as of 6/23/18). The Bluecoats are two spots shy of their GE ranking mostly because of their terrible score in total music. Something I figure they will be correcting quickly. Crown and the Crossmen are both ranked one spot below their overall rank.

Yes, the visual and music categories are important. I am not going to insert any sort of notion otherwise. However, even early in this season, you can see the disparity between how a corps is ranked in the three categories compared to their overall ranking in the chart below (based on scores as of 6/23/18).

Corps Overall Rank GE Rank Visual Rank Music Rank
Santa Clara Vanguard 1 1 2 1
Blue Devils 2 2 1 2
Bluecoats 3 1 3 5
Cavaliers 4 4 3 3
Carolina Crown 5 3 4 4
Boston Crusaders 6 5 5 6
Blue Knights 7 6 7 7
The Cadets 8 7 6 9
Phantom Regiment 9 8 10 8
Mandarins 10 10 8 11
Crossmen 11 9 11 13
Bluestars 12 12 9 10
The Academy 13 11 12 12
Madison Scouts 14 13 14 14
Colts 15 14 13 15
Troopers 16 15 15 16
Genesis 17 16 16 17
Pioneer 18 17 17 18

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