It would be very interesting to see a break down of costs. How much of the band's budget goes to pipes, and how much goes to drums? How many bands supply reeds, bags, chanters, drones versus how many require the piper to do so? How many bands require the drum section to chip in on their instruments? How much of the uniform is supplied by the band and how much is purchased by the individuals? How much of the travel costs are provided by band organizations versus individuals? How much of the band's budget is earned in performances/competitions, by sponsorship, outside donations, and membership dues? How much does the "average" piper in a grade one band spend in a year out of pocket on his/her hobby to have the honor of playing in a top band? How does that compare to a member in the drum section?
Bagpipermann said: "As far as tonal quality, I'm sure it has a lot more to do with cane vs synthetic rather than goopy humidity chamber vs dry......."
In one respect your are correct, but a sheepskin bag (or any hide bag that manages moisture well) functions without any restrictions to the drones (hoses, drying boxes, valves etc). This is a HUGE factor, and why many bands have changed back. Cane reeds can sound like anything (smooth to REALLY buzzy) depending on how they are made, set, sprung etc. I don't think it is correct to say that cane reeds are THE reason for improved drone sounds. Strathclyde produce a magnificent drone sound but there is not a cane reed to be seen. It's not really about 'dry vs wet', it's more about restricted airflow versus unrestricted airflow. It's even noticeable when you rip the gizzards out of a synthetic bag with synthetic reeds.
Great stuff. i am surprised that the MkIII Shephers are all plastic, why is that? the wooden version seems nicer to me. the trend back to sheepskin and cane is well-known, but even so these numbers are quite surprising - 70% just sheepskin! and ezee tenors still really popular - no surprises there. but where are the cannings?
Published: September 20, 2010 Author: Bagpipermann
I'm quite sure that "Aussie Rules" bagpiping applies to the vast majority of North American bands as well for the same reasons. The only band that I'm aware of that went back to sheepskin was the Windsor Police Grade I band, which no longer exists. As far as tonal quality, I'm sure it has alot more to do with cane vs synthetic rather than goopy humidity chamber vs dry.......
Very few Aussie bands play Sheepskin - it can dry out too easily, therefore leaks like a sieve.
SLOT & FMM have an 'all cane' rule and are on the sheepskin. SFU would be the same. Power sound like they're all-cane too, with maybe a few Eezes for safety in some sets, and sheepskin. Strathclyde might run with Eeze tenors and Kinnaird bass, with sheepskin. Boggies would be a mix with sheepskin. Shotts – who knows......but needs work.
There is no doubt that hoses, drying boxes, drone valves etc can marginally detract from the overall depth of drone sound across a corps, and that an effectively managed sheepskin bag (with no restrictions to drone reeds) creates more depth and vibrancy. It can be heard so easily when it’s right before you. It’s also got a lot to do with quality of player/individual tone and attention to detail per instrument, and not being scared of what certain godfather-like figures might think.......to the point where you have your chanters reshaped to look like something they are not....
A very interesting article,I think most people know who plays what [inthe top three anyway]I do think though that in the lower grades ,its best to stick to synthetic,unless one can play absolutely everyday,I know my band will be keeping to the plastic and gortex!
Published: September 18, 2010 Author: Bagpipermann
Interesting indeed! Would be useful to know where many of the bands playing sheepskin reside compared to ones playing synthetic types, possibly best presented as percentage. EG What percentage of Aussie bands play sheepskin vs synthetic? Same for NA bands, UK bands etc.
Pipers: The golden rule when working with a reed is, "You can always take material off the cane, but you cannot put it back." So, remember, when removing the slightest amount of material, blow the reed again.