Ballycoan first top-grade band to go with Cleland carbon fibre drums

Published: May 21, 2014
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The Grade 1 Ballycoan Pipe Band of Belfast has become the first band in the top grade to “take delivery” of a complete set of carbon fibre drums designed and produced by Cleland Instruments. The premium-priced snare drums have been on the market since 2009, with bass and tenors added in 2010.

Ballycoan is also the first band from Ireland to play Cleland drums, which feature carbon hoops – the first of their kind in the worldwide drum market. The bass and tenors use the same carbon hoop tensioning system as the snare, promising a more even drum head tension, according to the makers.

“These drums have really enhanced the ensemble of our band; the snare sound is so dynamic and rich, but the bass drum and tenors really do add a new dimension,” gushed Ballycoan Leading-Drummer Brendan Megoran in a news release. “These instruments are so rich in sound. The bass drum can be best described as sounding like a big vibrant bass guitar, really a joy to be playing in the band, the pipers love it! The tonal qualities and colours produced by the tenors also add brilliantly to the key changes and note variations on the chanter.”

Cleland carbon fibre snare drum.

The carbon fibre snare drums come at a steep price, with suggested list of $2,850 per drum. A 28″x16″ bass drums has a suggested price of $1,795. It is not known what Ballycoan paid for the instruments. By comparison, a Premier HTS 800 snare drum generally sells for about $675.

Cleland confirmed that the drums were provided to Ballycoan as part of a sponsorship/endorsement agreement. Most Grade 1 bands have similar agreements with drum manufacturers.

“We are delighted to have our drums played by this first-rate pipe band under the leadership of  [Ballycoan] Drum-Sergeant Brendan Megoran and Pipe-Major Richard McGrath,” commented Terry Cleland, developer of the instruments. Cleland is the Pipe-Major of the Grade 2 400 Squadron Pipe Band of Ontario, and is an expert in composite materials, including those used for high-performance racing cars.

The band previously played drums made by Andante of Northern Ireland.

Ballycoan is not entered for the British Championships at Bathgate, Scotland, on May 31st, but plans to compete in the new United Kingdom Championships June 14th in in Belfast with the new drums. The UK Championships took the place of the Cowal Championships in the RSPBA Rota of major competitions.

It will be the first RSPBA major championship for Ballycoan since 2010, before the band went on hiatus in a rebuilding phase. Despite the three-year gap, the RSPBA reinstated the band to Grade 1.

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Tenor drummers: When composing rhythmical passages in a tenor drum score, don’t just think about replicating the accented phrases within the snare score, but give equal consideration towhat is happening in the melody. Question your composition. For example, if a triplet occurs in the snare score,check if that triplet exists in the melody. If not,ask yourself if there is any value to that triplet being incorporated into the tenor score. That’s just a short example, but applying that principle is a small step towards improving ensemble.
Scott Currie, SC Drumming, Uddingston, Scotland