If you ask anyone in a pipe band what the cool people play, drums will always be the answer. Members of the APB drum corps would certainly agree, though if you tried to take that fact up with a piper, said piper might hopelessly argue with you.
The drum corps provides the dynamics and drive in a pipe band. They are the rhythmic power that amplifies expression. Divided into three instrument classes, (snare, tenor and bass) these groups divide into two distinct and interdependent units known as the snare line and midsection (sometimes referred to as bass section). Together they make the drum corps.
The pipe band snare presents a wonderful international blend of various rudimental drumming and percussion styles, infused with some jazz influence, all combined to produce a style that is unequivocally Scottish. With a heavy emphasis on dynamics and precise rudiment combinations, the snare line evokes energy and texture through the music. Percussionists will likely note the distinct and frequent use of closed roll combinations, lead and unison alternation (commonly referred to as “chips”), and modulation of metre amongst the various types of tunes.
The tenor drum deals with rhythm, melody and visuals. Though an individual tenor drummer might have fewer notes to play in comparison to other drummers in the corps, they very well could be the busiest. Modern tenor drumming adds a visual element known as “flourishing”, which is essentially an expression of the music through stick (mallet) spinning. It really is one of those things you just have to see. The tenor drummers choreograph their parts into a dynamic interplay of visuals, rhythm and melodic voicing, weaving the two halves of a band together.
Holding it all down is the responsibility of the bass drum. It is the drum that all other drums refer to and the heartbeat of a pipe band. It’s the anchor. A pipe band bass drummer has a responsibility to not only provide a reliable reference to tempo, but to set the energy of each tune and either subtly or dramatically adjust the tension expressed in the music.
Our drum corps is a welcoming group of close friends with diverse musical backgrounds. We push each other to be the best drummers we can be and strive to play better today than we did yesterday. We go into competition ready to execute with precision, consistency and a focus on adding musicality. When we win, we celebrate a job well done and the credit goes to each hardworking member. When we lose, we dust each other off and prepare better for next time. If you’re ready for a challenge, and this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, we’d like to hear from you.
If you’re interested in learning one of these instruments (which is a good idea, by the way), we encourage you to check out the APB Academy. We are always looking forward to hearing from someone who would like to be a drummer!
If you’re an experienced drummer or percussionist with no pipe band experience, feel free to contact us. Most of our corps is made up of converts and we’re here to help you learn the style if you’re ready to take on a new challenge. You’ll be in good company!
If you have pipe band experience, awesome! Don’t hesitate to reach out.
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