Published: August 31, 2001

Not borrowed, not blue

Something Old, Something New
Scottish Pipe Band Snare Drum Compositions by D/M Tom Brown and L/D Gordon Brown, Book 1
Published by T.G. Drumming, 22 Kepscaith Rd, Whitburn, West Lothian EH47 8JD Scotland

Reviewed by Greg Dinsdale

Something Old Something New is the first of a series of books by Tom and Gordon Brown. It is a collection of drumming compositions suitable for a wide range of levels and ability. The essence of the book is to provide the reader with a number of drum scores at various levels of difficulty – elementary, intermediate and advanced.

The book begins by giving a brief overview of the methodology employed, followed by a biography of the authors. This provides an interesting read although the father and son author tandem needs very little introduction given their successful track record with the Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band. It is their success with the Boghall & Bathgate organization that makes this book so compelling for students and teachers alike. This organization has consistently developed first rate drummers and corps, and their approach is worthy of serious consideration and study.

The basis of the book is to provide a collection of drum scores at various levels for a particular tune. For example, the tune “Donald McLean’s Farewell to Oban” includes an elementary setting, intermediate setting and advanced setting. The elementary level setting would be appropriate for up to Grade 3 drummers, including Novice Juvenile and Juvenile, the intermediate setting would be suitable for more advanced Grade 3 and Grade 2 while the advanced level setting would work for Grade 1 and 2 level players. The lower level settings provide the accents and sounds of the more advanced settings but with rudiments that are more appropriate for this level of player.

The main part of the book is organized into six sections comprising scores written for 2/4 marches, various march compositions (4/4, 9/8, 12/8), strathspey compositions, reel compositions, jig compositions, and finally hornpipes. Each section is prefaced by a short explanation of the composition such as when it was composed, by whom and for which drum corps. I would like to see this section expanded in later volumes to provide more detail discussing the differences between the various score levels for a particular tune. This information could prove useful to the student and teacher with respect to areas of difficulty based on author’s teaching experience, passages requiring particular attention and other subtleties that would be of interest.

I enjoyed reading this book and working through the scores. It is a great resource for students and teachers alike, and I would recommend it be part of your collection. It is full of good material. Check out “The Big Road Brusher” (great fourth part), “Lord Alexander Kennedy” and “Balmoral Highlanders,” to name just a few other gems. I’m looking forward to the next installment already.

Greg Dinsdale was formally lead drummer of Metro Toronto Police, St. Thomas Police and Dofasco Pipe Band. He is also a former member of the British Caledonia Airways Pipe Band. Greg is a member of the PPBSO Music Board, is on the judging panel of the PPBSO and resides in London, Ontario.

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