In response to many emails, an option for a more contemporary approach to snare, bass and tenor scoring has been added. This idea of bass, tenor and snare coming together in a more orchestrated way is what Doug Stronach used for Toronto Police Pipe Band's contentious Variation's on a Theme of Good Intentions Medley in 2008. You can view and listen to the drum corps perform this type of arrangement here.
Pipe band scoring has traditionally been built in layers, starting with the snare score as a musically full and finished piece in its own right, then on top of that bass and tenor parts added, often by someone other than the creator of the snare score. This method places emphasis on the snare drum as being the main sound of all pipe band arrangements which over time can perhaps become predictable and boring, even when taking into account the fantastic rudimental prowess and sound of a pipe band drum corps.
A different and more contemporary approach incorporates all parts of the drum corps as equals with each sound getting the opportunity to become the main focus at different times within the framework of the melody. This idea uses uses three main points of reference for contrast in the musical arrangement. With them you can produce a full-bodied sound that can entertain and excite your audience. The three main musical contrasts used in this type of arrangement are:
1. DYNAMIC CONTRAST: varying degrees of dynamics are used to produce musical effects within a pipe band drum corps. This is not that unusual as most traditional scores written today have dynamic markings in them. However, this was not always the case. Dynamics have been a musical tool that pipe band drummers have capitalized on only in the last 20-30 years of competition to the point where a grade 1 corps today who play without any obvious dynamic variance would not do very well in competition. A performance from the early 1980s or before would have very little in the way of structured dynamics. Some of the first corps' to use structured dynamics were Boghall and Bathgate led by the great Tom Brown. Two-bar roll phrases in strathspey time were often played from pp to ff with amazing musical effect. Jim King with the Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band was also musically advanced in this department. Today, most competitive corps will have many kinds of purposely structured dynamics within each piece of music the play.
2. RHYTHMIC CONTRAST: the idea of playing varying rhythms from simple to complex within the same time signature and tempo is not something that most pipe band drummers like to do. In the competition world of 'extreme drumming', the more notes you play, the faster you play them, and with as many players as possible, can often give the competitive edge over other bands. However, in contemporary music, rhythmic contrast is an important and highly valued tool. Complex rhythms will appear more exciting and interesting when combined with simpler rhythms. Also, playing rhythms from whole notes to 1/32nds, allows for much more rhythmic variety in a composition. Playing complex rhythms all of the time, is indeed no more interesting than playing simple rhythms all of the time. Combining the two together in a musically meaningful way is what creates variety and limitless musical interest.
3. TONAL CONTRAST: varying the dominant tone between the snares, bass and tenor drums is again not something traditional pipe band scoring allows for. When the snare score is written, it generally fills in every part and beat of the pipe tune and for all intents and purposes works as both a band and solo snare drum piece. It is a finished part in its own right, similar to the way a traditional pipe tune would be in that tunes are written to be complete in their own right and not intended to be part of a larger arrangement. Tonal Contrast is the idea of sharing the dominant sound of a pipe band drum corps (the snare drums) with the tenors and bass. For this to happen, the snares have to either rest completely, or simplify their rhythms while the tenors, bass or any combination continue to play. This ties in nicely with the rhythmic contrast talked about above. When the snares stop or play less, another instrument automatically comes to the forefront for the listener to hear and be engaged by. It could be the pipes, or it could be a tenor or bass part. It could also be any combination of these instruments allowing great freedom in creating the arrangement. The loudest and most complex part will always win attention, so its important also to combine this idea with the pipes or they will end up dominating the entire arrangement. It is not a bad idea musically to have the drums be the lead instrument for a brief period within an arrangement. Many other styles of music including jazz and orchestral allow rhythm to become the focus instead of melody.
This type of arrangement is written on a 3 line stave with snare, tenor and bass parts together. No voicing of tenor parts is included (only rhythms) as the number of tenor drummers available in bands often varies.
Two parts of any time signature (from traditional or contemporary melodies) can be composed, typeset and recorded in MP3 format for any skill level. Simply email a copy of the written pipe music with recording to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to 2119 Lake Shore Blvd. West, Apt 911, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M8V4E8. Please include as much information as you can on the type of scores needed and skill level of the players. Feel free to email first to discuss your needs.
Discounts are applied for 5 or more two parted tunes. Turn around time is approximately one month from payment. The finished scores and MP3 recordings are downloaded by you via a private web address and password. Please note that you will have to indicate a four or six-parted tune, or multiple two-parted tunes by adding up the number of two-parted tunes to be composed and adding that number to the quantity box. For example, a six-parted march would have a '3' in the quantity box.