PIPE BANDS

A pipe band is a musical ensemble consisting of pipers and drummers. The term used by military pipe bands, pipes and drums, is also common.

The most common form of pipe band, the Scottish, consists of a section of pipers playing the great highland bagpipe, a section of snare drum (often referred to as ‘side drummers’), several tenor drums and usually one, though occasionally two, bass drums. The entire drum section is known collectively as the drum corps. The tenor drummers and bass drummer are referred to collectively as the ‘bass section’ (or in North America as the ‘midsection’). The band follows the direction of the pipe major; when on parade the band may be led by a drum major, who directs the band with a mace. Standard instrumentation for a pipe band involves 6 to 25 pipers, 3 to 10 side drummers, 1 to 6 tenor drummers and 1 bass drummer. Occasionally this instrumentation is augmented to include additional instruments (such as additional percussion instruments or keyboard instruments), but this is typically done only in concert settings.
In military and para-military organizations the term “pipes and drums” refers to an ensemble of Highland bagpipes and drums, but the majority of modern military bands are similar to their civilian counterparts in their instrumentation and music. Many of the same standard tunes are found in both the military and civilian pipe band repertoires, and many similarities exist in terms of musical style, historical and musical influences, and dress and deportment.
Unlike civilian pipers, however, pipers in British military bands have additional military responsibilities. Nowadays, musicians in British Army bands are normally required to take on a secondary role in the battlefield as medics. However, in most cases the pipes and drums in a Scottish or Irish infantry regiment constitute a machine gun or mortar platoon (as the Corps of Drums does in an English or Welsh infantry regiment). As a result, in addition to being musicians, members of the pipes and drums must also be qualified fighting soldiers. Unlike musicians, who belong to the Corps of Army Music, the pipers and drummers belong to the regiment in which they serve and are soldiers first and foremost.
The British Army runs its own pipes and drums training facility, the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, in Edinburgh, Scotland. To be qualified as a pipe major or drum major in the pipes and drums of a regiment of the British Army, candidates must successfully pass a series of courses at the school.

The music played by pipe bands generally consists of music from the Scottish tradition, the Irish tradition and the Breton tradition, either in the form of traditional folk tunes and dances or music from the Western tradition that has been adapted for pipes. Examples of typical pipe bands forms include marches, slow airs, up-tempo jigs and reels, and strathspeys. In recent years there has been a great deal of emphasis placed on new forms, especially the suite. A good example of a suite for pipe band is Don Thompson’s composition Journey to Skye (1987).

In conventional pipe band music, each section of instruments has a different role in the music. Generally speaking, the pipers deliver the melodic and harmonic material, while the side drummers provide a rhythmically interactive accompaniment part. The tenor drummers provide the fundamental rhythmic pulse and the bass drummer anchors the rhythms, providing a strong and steady beat. The roles of each section are broken down further below.

BE BY THE FENCE AT THE MAIN ATHLETIC FIELD AT NOON ON SATURDAY TO SEE THE MASSED BANDS PARTICIPATE IN THE PHOENIX SCOTTISH GAMES OPENING CEREMONIES!


GRADING SYSTEM

Prizes at the Worlds are awarded in the following nine categories:

  • Grade one
  • Grade two
  • Grade three “A”
  • Grade three “B”
  • Juvenile
  • Grade four “A”
  • Grade four “B”
  • Novice juvenile “A”
  • Novice juvenile “B”
    In the United States, Canada, and Germany, there is a fifth grade, commonly only used for beginning youth musicians.

PIPE BANDS ATTENDING THIS YEAR

Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band
Phoenix Pipe Band
Glendale Pipes and Drums
Tucson and District Pipe Band