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Piper/Drummer Ratio

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.. Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Thu 22 Nov - 21:40:48

What's a good ratio for pipers to snare and tenor drummers? Obviously the snares are more critical since they are louder, and I'm thinking 2 pipers per snare is probably good.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Thu 22 Nov - 21:54:27

It 's bad enough trying to get one in Tune? but TWO laughing
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Redneck on Fri 23 Nov - 0:11:51

DavidH wrote:What's a good ratio for pipers to snare and tenor drummers? Obviously the snares are more critical since they are louder, and I'm thinking 2 pipers per snare is probably good.


Spot on. ATM we are on 12 pipers 'n 6 sides, 4 tenors 'n the big drum.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Fri 23 Nov - 0:34:30

Thanks, Iain, that is exactly what I am hoping to have in a year or so.

Yes, Robbie, there is a Santa Claus, and he's brung me some trained young percussionists who are gung ho to learn pipe band drumming.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by tankiedrummie on Fri 23 Nov - 0:40:17

we have 13 pipers, 1 bass, 3 tenor, 5 sides another 3 pipers and a side if we need them. All my drummers can play all the drums in the corps so it is variable...
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Riperpiper on Fri 23 Nov - 2:53:00

We're currently fielding a max of 19 pipers, 2 bass 5 tenors and 9 sides. And it sounds OK. (When they're in tune..!!) Smile
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Fri 23 Nov - 3:52:12

Riperpiper wrote:We're currently fielding a max of 19 pipers, 2 bass 5 tenors and 9 sides. And it sounds OK. (When they're in tune..!!) Smile
Lucky sod!!! But it sounds like my 2:1 ratio is spot on.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 9:12:55

Riperpiper wrote:We're currently fielding a max of 19 pipers, 2 bass 5 tenors and 9 sides. And it sounds OK. (When they're in tune..!!) Smile



sounds more like a Drums & Pipes....lol

sixteen drums for nineteen pipes ?

I can't even comprehend that.....

I think the drum sections are far too big nowadays and that too much importance is being given to drumming.

It's not just the sides, I don't like this ever growing trend towards having more and more tenors.

Personally, I've always thought that approx. one snare to three or four pipers is the right balance. No need for more than one bass and add two tenors (or four at very most) depending on the numbers of pipers / snares.

Please don't take it as a slur or that I'm trying to be rude....I'm not......it's just a personal point of view LOL

(hmm......why do I think the words "red" "flag" and "bull" may spring to the minds of the ratatata / thump thump thump / bang bang brigade ?)
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 15:18:08

We shall treat your comments with eh disdain they deserve/ So there Razz Razz
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Fri 23 Nov - 16:28:13

Blue, since you did make that disclaimer, I won't jump all over you as I was tempted to, but I'll leave that for Dai as he does it so well.big grin Since you made your comments seriously, I'll reply in kind.

The sound of pipe bands has changed a lot over the last 10-15 years, for better or worse, like it or not. Some like a powerful snare sound, others less so, but the trend is to go with more snares when possible. And with enough snare drummers playing at various times, they can truly emphasize the music, the same as having more pipers cut in or out.

The biggest change has been in what is now called the "mid-section", also referred to as the "bass section". That happened when tenor drummers began to play and make sounds in time with the music rather than fake it as I was taught.

The reference to those drums as "tenors" is a misnomer in many bands now. Out of the 6 or more playing what all appear to be tenor drums, there is normally some mix of baritone, tenor and alto, and there may also be one or two sopranos.

There is a recommended tuning chart for all of those, as well as the bass, all tuned off the drones of the pipes. The bass drum is tuned to the bass drone, the baritone drum to the tenor drones and the soprano one octave higher. The tenor and alto drums are tuned in between those, theoretically around concert D and F pitches.

The combination of up to 5 different voices in the mid-section can add a great variety of subtle (our drums aren't as loud as the snares) variations to the ensemble of the band. This is most obvious in a drum salute, but if you watch and listen intently to a good drum corps playing with the pipes, you can see and hear the differences. Watch some of the grade 1 bands and you will see that the "tenors" are often playing at different times.

Thus a well balanced and tuned drum corps has the staccato sound of the snares with their great potential volume variation plus 5 notes and thus can actually play music. The old days when the snares played and the tenors only flourished, all in time to the bass beat are gone, and in my opinion, for the betterment of pipe bands.

The modern version is more of an orchestra of technically refined, but still primitive instruments, all attempting to play in harmony with each other to create a sound with more depth and variation than ever before. The drummers are now part of the musicality of the band instead of just providing a supporting beat and some visual excitement.

In the old days, once you heard one pipe band, you'd heard them all, but not now, especially if you do listen to the percussion blending in. And I don't mean that statement as a slam against pipers or bands, of course some are technically better than others, but overall their sound wasn't all that different.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 16:59:36

Wow, briliantly put David, seriously that has got to be the best explanation of a drum corps at work I have heard, I remember somone a few years ago try to explain it, but it certainly was not as explicit as your post, Thanks for that David.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 17:03:57

Sorry but I do not see it that way.

In the "old days" once you heard one band you most certainly did not hear them all.

Tell that to Muirhead and Sons, tell that to the Invergordon Distillery, to the City of Glasgow Police, to the City of Edinburgh Police or to Shotts.

To me....the very best of pipe bands was the 1960s, however I will equally accept arguments from the bands of the 1970s and the 198os.

But much of what I hear today is complete and utter garbage.

But don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go at the great bands today, whether it is the 78ths, the SFU, FMM or yes....even Shotts......I just think that the "big" mid sections of today add absolutely nothing. In fact, I think they detract from what I think of as proper pipe band music / the pipe band sound.

I think that drumming has become ridiculously important......and that the truth needs told. ....like it or not.

Get back to the swinging 6/8s of yesteryear, get back to a pipe band being a pipe band, get back to marches, strathspeys and reels, swing along the road to 6/8s in the manner they they were meant to be played.....and keep drummers in their place !!!

Sorry Dave, but I've got redneck,s act of reproduction all time for all this modern "mid section stuff".

I say again, in my own opinion, there should be no more than three or four snares per piper,,,,,,preferably four.

I'm not being rude....I simply have little time for the "orchestra" which seems to be the norm today.

Dinosaur ? Maybe so.....
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 17:11:25

Being serious (for once) I have got to stand up here and say I totally disagree with you on this Ron, having played in the era you mention you like(and earlier) whilst AT THAT TIME the bands were supreme with a marvellous sound, some of the stuff you hear now is in comparison mind blowing.
Are you really totally against the drum corps as you make out? or are you once again throwing out the bait in the hope that one of us will bite, and you can wind us in as you normally do.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 17:16:40

No I'm not Dai....I just have little time for the "orchestra".....I listem to some bands and the drums are overwhelming.

I hate it.

If there is any band which had it right it's Iain MacLellan's "mob" from the 1980s.....and as far as I'm concerned that's as futuristic as was ever needed,

The drumming has become "in excess" end of story.

I think in the end we'll have to agree to disagree.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 17:21:38

I think you are right on that one Ron, although an Ex drummer i must admit i have become over the years more attuned to the Pipes, but I st ill honestly and truthfully feel that a crack drum corps ADDS to the Music. IMHO
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 17:22:50

very humble IMHO.....lol
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 17:23:32

Ach away an Bile yer heid??
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 17:24:58

lol.....alright hen....
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 17:26:30

Yah big jessie?
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Fri 23 Nov - 17:36:01

name calling.......it's obviously a Weegie thing.....
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Dai Robb on Fri 23 Nov - 17:37:12

Nah just cant think of anything nice to say? laughing
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Fri 23 Nov - 18:01:41

Well, Bluesaurus Rex, it does seem we will have to agree to disagree on this one, but on friendly terms of course.

I also played bass and then tenor back in the period of which you speak, and listened to a lot of great bands in Ontario and BC. My comment was not meant to disparage the bands of those days, that's just the way it was done then, and maybe I could have worded it better.

From the aspect of pipes, the quality did vary a whole lot from one to another as it still does, and there is nothing sharper than a good clean strike and almost unexpected cut at the end of a tune. But the overall sound of the bands was still similar from one to another and they played a lot of the same tunes.

Music evolves, and in the case of good old rock and roll, I hate it. We hate change from the things we hold dear from our youth, and in your case, given your exposure to the pipe band music of those years, which far exceeds mine, I can understand where you are coming from.

In my opinion, by the time you speak of, the potential for further exciting and new things in piping in the bands had about run out. Bands, especially the top grade bands, were looking for something beyond perfect playing to give then an edge over their competition.

They departed from the good old marches and MSR's into more free and radical music in the medleys, more quick and almost frenzied fingering, abrupt time changes and other supposedly impressive improvements.

Some of the drummers, led by Andy Miller in Ontario and a few others around the world courageously stepped out of the crowd and encouraged the tenors to participate more in the ensemble of the band. This caught the attention of some of the kids of that time, Tyler Fry for one, and they took up the torch and ran with it. Maybe they ran too far too fast, but that's the way with kids when they get a fantastic new idea.

At the same time some of the great side drummers were doing the same with the snares. I happened to be playing tenor near Vancouver in the 90's when Reid Maxwell started doing some radical things with the SFU drum corps. Because Reid was our lead tip's instructor, we got all the stories about what was going on. Obviously it payed off in 95 and 96 when Terry Lee and Reid led the band to two consecutive World Championships.

I see all kinds of gripes in various locations about the higher pitch that the chanters are being tuned to these days, I assume in the quest to get a different sound from the band. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Obviously a lot of pipers think it's good while others can't stand it.

It's exactly the same with the way drum corps work within the bands now. Some love it, some hate it. And there are probably some drummers in the "hate it" crowd too, but I happen to love it. I'm a drummer. I'm also a musician and I like to play a part of the music in the band. Our pipers also love it and are working closely with us now to refine small parts of our scores to work better with their music.

One thing we can agree on is the marches. There is nothing like a rowsing 6/8 to get the blood flowing and the kilt swinging down the street... or even standing in the circle because I can't stand still and play a 6/8. Our 6/8 set is Return of the Stone and the Piob of Donald Dubh and my whole drum corps loves to play it.

Rather than get this thread off the current track, which I am enjoying thoroughly, I'm going to start another one... wait for it and please participate, Ron.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by bondy on Sat 24 Nov - 1:47:30

Personally it depends on the make of drum and how sharpthey are tuned as to the ideal ratio of pipers to drummers the other factor is how many drummers the band is able to field and the grade and level at which the band plays!
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by DavidH on Sat 24 Nov - 6:28:46

That's easy, Premier HTS-700's, not tuned really tight, more and more drummers with each week, and there are no grades here, no competitions, only 8 bands in all of South America.
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.. Re: Piper/Drummer Ratio

Post by Redneck on Sat 24 Nov - 18:37:34

True_Blue_Piper wrote:No I'm not Dai....I just have little time for the "orchestra".....I listem to some bands and the drums are overwhelming.

I hate it.

If there is any band which had it right it's Iain MacLellan's "mob" from the 1980s.....and as far as I'm concerned that's as futuristic as was ever needed,

The drumming has become "in excess" end of story.

I think in the end we'll have to agree to disagree.

Got to agree wi TBP on this one folks, there are a few good points made by Dai, but the drum corps of today HAVE taken over IMO all too many big ego's on the go........showmanship. The ratio of 1 drummer to 2 pipers is IMO a good equal balance. Some of the tenor sections now are bigger than our bloody snare section, it's all about the overall effect.

There's a grade1 band over here competed wi 12 snares 'n a large bass section........wow ya say impressive......impressive my arse, the pipers numbered 10........!!!!!!! where is the balance there?.
Yes they did look the part 'n done it well, but this to me is not a pipe band set up.

Here again I agree and disagree wi Ron, yer part about goin' back to the old days of 6/8 marches ect. Sorry m8, am as staunch as you regarding good MSR playing but this statement to me is counterproductive. 6/8's are great played correctly 'n phrased well, but also a love walkin' down the street da a wee set a reels 'n h/pipes too.

Some fantastic musical compositions being played today by GREAT pipe corps, yes Ron I too am a Dinosaur in certain areas of piping, but I don't agree with what your saying about the set up of today's standards, IMO piping is stronger now than it's ever been.

There are good points on both side of the coin here.........it's up too the PM's 'n L/D's da strike the perfect blend of pipers 'n drummers..........IMO too many are going for the visual impact at the expense of musical balance.

Iain. Pint
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