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Old 06-11-06, 03:54 PM   #1
Pete Walen
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Default Observations in Changes in Sound from a bass drum workshop...

During the workshop I was teaching Saturday, one of the students made an observation that forced me to practice my "teacher" face - the one where you are forced to raise an eyebrow and say something like "Hmmm. That's an interesting point..." instead of looking at them and saying "No sh!t, Sherlock!"

Anyway, one of the things I do when doing either bass workshops or general midsection workshops is to play medley tracks from various World Championship recordings. I'll pick 3 or 4 bands and play their recorded medleys from two or three different years - normally a few years apart. Saturday, I was running a bit late, so I only did 3 bands, and from 2 years. Typically, I play the recpordings from one year, one at a time - and have the students comment on regarding the bass & tenor section, then the drum corps as a whole, then the whole "package": what they liked, what they did not care for, what they found interesting.

I got the expected comments for the first batch of recordings - all from 2001. Then I played the first of the 2006 medleys (which is why I was glad I got the corrected CD on Friday). The first comment anyone made was "Everything is a lot sharper - pipes, everything. The snares just don't have as much snap or definition as the first 3 bands did." (I was mean and did not tell them that they were from different years...) They went on to say that the sound from the midsection was much more defined than two of the first three bands and that you could clearly hear voices, even if the pitch of the drums was not distinct (I suspect they presumed this was a fault of the recording.) The comments for the next band were similar. The comments for the third band was "Oh, my - that was really different. The music was really great - the bass and tenor stuff was different from what the others had - lots of bass drum sound..."

Then I told them what I had done... same three band's performances from two different years 2001 and 2006. The bands were (in sequence) SFU, Boghall and 78th Frasers. I had intended to use Shotts as well, but not enough time.

Their reaction was what I had hoped to get - a group of neophyte bass drummers had listened to some of the top bands in the world and had listened critically to the presentations without knowing who they were - they just knew they were recorded at a contest somewhere. The commented on the complexity of the rhythyms - a couple commented on tempos (Man, they were playing FAST!) and some comments on how they blended with the overall sound.

The thing I found interesting was not their reaction to the playing, but to the difference in sound - pitch, tuning (drums) and approach to music between 2001 and 2006. In 2001, the HTS 700 was only a few years old and a lot of bands were still experimenting on how to get maximum sound from them. Now, many bands are sacrificing tone (definition of pitch) for tuning the drums sharper to meet the rise in pipes pitch.

The growth of B&T within the drum corps has influenced the overall package notably - sections are now getting more aggressive than they were - upper grade bands are demonstrating technical mastery of the concepts, and leaving some lower grade players scratching their heads to comprehend what they just heard.

I was greatly pleased to hear some of the participants say "Ya know, that's great. It sounds really good what they're doing. I'm not sure we could do that in our band, and I'm not certain we should even try. There is so much we need to learn before we can think about something like that..."

All in all, it was a successful workshop. They all came away with something - and all had milk-and-cookies for a snack in the middle of the afternoon!

Pete -

Border Cities Caledonian, Windsor, ON
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Old 06-11-06, 06:21 PM   #2
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Good post m8, thank you.

The things mentioned by yourself and the students are IMO quite applicable to the the pipe corps as well, Stormy and I had a good talk about the very same thing at the worlds ( well not at the worlds itself lol, too much swallie )

Chanters too have risen in pitch, and again IMO by too much.
The set up of your class was an excellent way in proving this very same thing.

The best sound I've ever heard was the 78th Frasier's the year they won the worlds. To me this was the perfect pipe band sound, now it's that high ya need 25-30 pipers to carry the sound it's that high.

Someone like to comment on the two posts ?.
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