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Side / Snare Pipe Bands or Solo - if it relates to Drumming...

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Old 06-21-2002, 07:56 AM   #11
Pete Walen
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

Ah - here's a contradiction, eh? Craig has a point - If the "skill level is not there" that can indeed limit what the corps can play. If the limit is in the lead, or who ever is writing scores for the corps, that is a slightly different question.

The answer, however, lies in pushing yourself and your corps beyond where you think you can play NOW. In grade 4 (and 5) scores that can have the daylights played out of them, without being terribly difficult, will give the sound that is expected AND will set up expectations for the future.

I know of at least one band in my broad area that is playing the same score for tunes for the last 15 years at the least. That is not the way to advance your corps.

Push the limits - get some instruction from a higher grade player. It needn't be J. Reid Maxwell or Buzz Brown - it could be the lead from the grade 3 or grade 2 band that is a few hours away.

Another thing to remember is that being a great drummer does not by definition make them a good teacher. Try and find someone who has taught with success recently.

Now then, to a couple of points made earlier.

Mike's comment on diluting the published Duthart scores - my view is, to learn to play them, you must understand what is implied in them. There are subtle nuances which may, or may not, be expressed on the printed page. If you do not understand these, then you never will make these scores "musical" - a common complaint I've heard from some people. My response is to find a teacher who DOES inderstand them - preferably one who studied under Alex who can give you the insight you need. It is one thing to swap a flam for a drag - it is another to "almost" play an accented tizz-diddle phrase that you really don't understand.

For Mike's other points -

For corps that want to advance, I see a few possibilities:
• have an experienced composer write scores for your corps
• bring him/her in to teach the corps how to play and express the scores...videos and recordings are a decent lower cost stand-by.
• have your LD take lessons from an experienced player in the fine art of writing a score
• encourage your local association to sponsor a composition workshop.
• have a mentor help you during your learning process

Spot on, Mike. Well said. (So I lifted them and copied them here!)

To Duncan's point of stagnation across the grades - I tend to agree. There are many bands in grade 3 and 2 where the corps has a set number of moves/riffs/whatever under their mitts where they can just nail them in any configuration. Many times these are the moves that the LD really likes - and so uses, naturally enough. After a while, though these moves need some freshening, no? A little extra added to them to keep them from becoming stale.

I'd suggest listening to your competition - not listening for mistakes, but listening for ideas they are trying to execute. (Nothing like stomping on your rivals by playing their own "cool move" better than they do...) Lower grade guys listen in particular to the upper grade bands. Study what they are doing. Talk to people - most of them won't bite, at least not too hard!

OK - Rant bit set off.

Good luck at Barrie, Oberlin and wherever else you might be competing this weekend.

Cheers -
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Old 06-21-2002, 11:44 AM   #12
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

Some good points.
The same catalog of rudiments incorporated into the massed band scores can be rearranged into scores that fit the tunes with less syncopation. This does not require a more skillful corps, just a desire to listen to the pipe tune and try to compliment it rather than syncopate around it.
A simplified version of the approach is as follows:
Write the pipe tune out without the grace notes and play it back as if a bass or tenor score. Next, fill in held notes with rolls or other passages and ensure that all the accents are complimenting the phrasing of the pipes. Finally, play it back many times with the a piper or recording of the pipe tune to see if there are places where some syncopation would offer some drive, or if it is too busy or too bare.
I can not help but have in the back of my mind a platonic version of the massed band scores. If a band plays them too badly I am unimpressed and wonder why they don't try something more simple. If a band plays them too well I wonder why they don't bother seeking out better-fitting arrangements.
I agree with Mike. There was, afterall, only one Alex Duthart, and it was his whole approach that made him great, not simply technical ability. He knew the pipe tunes better than other drummers, and his scores reflect that.
I guess the point is that custom scores, even if they are more simple than massed band scores, will add an element of surprise and boost ensemble points.
The massed band scores are an important benchmark in pipeband drumming. They allow a player to recognize when s/he has mastered the catalog, but notice they are not called 'The Grade 4 Competition Scores.'
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Old 07-06-2002, 08:34 PM   #13
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

Very enlightening discussion! If bands and score writers within the piping community are turning to recycled and pre-existing material to the loss of some musicality within individual songs and scores, how would it be accepted and how often is it practiced in the world of the pipe band to seek musical and stylistic inspiration outside of the piping idiom?
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Old 07-13-2002, 03:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

I play with a small band called Stirling Bridge Pipe Band in San Diego that just plays massed band scores we don't compete or anything but I figure it's cause we still have beginners in the band but it's getting annoying that they've been working on the 4/4 and 3/4 for almost a year now, but I can tell some have been working really hard. www.stirlingbridgepipeband.org
We are going to compete next year but I know were going to end up playing massed band scores
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Old 08-09-2002, 01:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

Wow, Interesting conversation. I agree that in many bands, esp those who have a busy performance schedule, writing, finding, and learning new scores isn't a priority. It's sad that new scores may be sacrificed for the sake of a concert. One of the things my band does, is everyone (just about) writes some. Not all of it "makes the cut", and it changes alot between out first drafts and walking up to the line, but everyone has a role in the score, dynamics, expression.

Perfect example of this (and one that you leads might want to try on your corps), is me because I've been out of the "scene" for a year or two, and had only been with Ben Nevis for a couple of months. My lead laid out the pipe scores for a MSR next year, and said "You get to write one, pick." (Hmmmm, Susan MacLeod or Mrs. MacPherson of I....it was a tough choice).

Either way, even the one snare who dosen't really write scores comes up with ideas during the first few practices and comes up with many good ideas which are often incorporated into the scores.

It's important to keep an open enviroment in the corps, and encourage all (particularily young or newer members) to write. Too many bands are dominated by one or two composers, and that leads to a drum nazi effect, and that can lead to Grade Camping.

Enough rambling, Cheers!

CHris Davies
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Old 09-08-2002, 11:24 PM   #16
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

One has to take in account the grade level that a given corps is at. A greenhorn grade V corps SHOULD be learning the rudiments and massed band beatings FIRST! That's not lazy; it's common sense. How many V corps can play the massed band scores competently? As a grade V corps desires self improvement, it should look to move to scores written specific to the competition tunes. An attempt at midsection fugal texture should be attempted at this time at the appropriate difficulty level.

Grade IV is different. NO MASSED BAND SCORES WHATSOEVER SHOULD BE USED. It should be all original music at a distinctly highler level of difficulty.

If one is unable to write scores and adequately teach them to the rest of the line, that band should seek out a regular PAID instructor/arranger. It will make all the difference in the world.
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Old 09-09-2002, 03:33 AM   #17
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

A "PAID instructor"? I'm sure that if any drummer out there was struggling to write or compose scores then all he/she would have to do is post a plea for help on this or any other site and the drumming community would help in some shape or form.
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Old 09-09-2002, 10:29 AM   #18
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Yes-A PAID INSTRUCTOR! Does one not pay for individual lessons? Does not one pay for workshops? What's wrong with having a gradeI/Open player "on the payroll" to teach and arrange drum scores on a regular basis? There are a lot of lower grade bands out there that could really benefit from consistent, quality instruction.

Should said instructor, at his own cost, be expected to travel, write, and teach for free? That's ludicrous!

I'm not saying that it is wrong to seek out your drumming brethren for help, but honestly, are you going to give your competition all your secrets? Give me a break! You are going to do everything in your power to maintain a competitive edge.

That said, the benefit of a paid instructor is his/her motivation. It's not competition driven. It is money motivated. To that end, you will receive a greater degree of attention than a volunteer.
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Old 09-09-2002, 12:21 PM   #19
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Default Re: Lazy Scores

Quote:
Originally posted by copland28601:
Grade IV is different. NO MASSED BAND SCORES WHATSOEVER SHOULD BE USED. It should be all original music at a distinctly highler level of difficulty.
Please keep in mind that Grade 4 is entry level for most associations.

Are you/ave you been a Cavie?
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Old 09-10-2002, 08:25 AM   #20
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I'm not telling you what splooie means!!!!! giggle GO CAVIES! GO CADETS! GO SHOTTS!
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