Australia Highlanders latest top band to go natural
The Grade 1 Australia Highlanders are the latest band to announce that they are moving from synthetic drone reeds and pipe bags in favour of cane and sheepskin products.
“For the past few years with the increased chanter pitch, we have not been entirely happy with our drone balance, especially in regards to bass drone volume and projection,” said Pipe-Major Danny Boyle. “At the World’s in 2006 we had a chanter sound we were extremely happy with, but not the depth in drone volume. We have since experimented with many different configurations of pipe setup, and in March of this year introduced the sheepskin and cane drone reeds.”
The band joins St. Laurence O’Toole in its return to traditional materials, which SLOT announced in December 2006. Other prominent bands, such as five-time World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery, have always used sheepskin and cane products.
After finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Qualifier at the 2006 World Pipe Band Championships, the Australia Highlanders ended up eleventh overall in the final contest.
Synthetic drone reeds were originally developed for mass-production in Australia by piping products pioneer Geoff Ross. Ross introduced the first plastic-body drone reeds in 1985, and in the 1990s brought about a revolution in internal drying methods with the launch of the Ross Canister system. The first mass-produced synthetic pipe bags came on the market in the late 1980s with the advent of the Canmore bag from Gore-Tex.
The band also confirmed that it will release a new CD, Without Fear (pictured at right), during the week before the 2007 World’s.
With the renewed interest in cane drone reeds and many pipers never having used them before, reedmaker Murray Henderson recently provided an article on the topic for pipes|drums subscribers.
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