October 15, 2010

What’s in a name?

A rose is a rose is a rose.The move to rename the magazine “pipes|drums” was made about three years ago. It was previously known as “Piper & Drummer Online,” and complemented the now defunct print publication. The name could have been kept, but it made more sense to start a new era with a new name, and it’s been a great success.

But I’ve noticed that people are still a bit unsure of the name. “Piper & Drummer” established very good brand recognition, of course, so old habits die hard, especially in the tradition-fixated piping and drumming world. I also hear a lot of folks refer to the magazine as “pipes and drums” – something of a morph between the old and new.

The correct name and pronunciation is, however, “pipesdrums.” All one word, no “and.”

There are reasons for the name. First, “pipes” and “drums” are an equal five letters. That balance is in line with the goal of providing content of interest, overall, to both pipers and drummers. Some articles – for example, those on piobaireachd – may be of interest especially to pipers, just as the current feature on mid-sections could attrcat the attention of more drummers. But, again, providing an overall balance is the objective, and one can reasonably assume that a publication called the Fiddling Times, or Fiddling Today, or the Fiddle Band are really pretty much only for fiddlers.

Many folks aren’t quite sure about the | symbol, which, incidentally can be found on most keyboards by shifting the backslash ( ) key. The reason for the vertical slash is, again, to reflect balance. Pipes and drums are separate but equal. It was a conscious decision not to use the ampersand or “and” since that might imply that one is an afterthought. I was always a little uncomfortable with “Piper & Drummer,” wondering if it implicitly suggested “pipers . . . oh, yeah . . . and drummers.”

Lastly, it’s all lower-case. Because it’s all one word, it was thought that it would throw things out of balance with a capitalized “Pipes” and non-capitalized “drums.” And having Both Capitalized just looked odd. Besides, we’re a class-less culture, as it were.

So, there you are. As one who has had to spell out his last name repeatedly, I thought it might be beneficial to clarify again the name of the magazine.

pipes|drumsproper noun, pīpsdrŭms – world’s most read magazine for pipers and drummers; nonprofit and independent and sustained by sponsors and subscribers . . . like you.


  1. For one who has been reading this great little missive since it also encapsulated the word dancer,one thing has always rung true. It’s not about the title it’s about the contents which have improved constantly and I’m sure will continue to do so. It’s a great read. Cheers.

  2. I think there’s a lot in a name. Think about it. If sombody goes off on one here, it pretty much gets brought back to centre. If somebody dips, somebody else peaks. If somebody swings to the right, somebody else comes in from the left. Balance seems to be the name of the game. That way everybody feels held and safe. Ah! What a great model for ‘family’ life, whether it be just plain people, or pipers or drummers or as here, pipersdrummers.

  3. Whatever you call it,Andrew, the service and benefits you provide to the worldwide pipes|drums community is incalculable. Never stop doin’ what you do! (Probably a thankless job, too. They oughta nominate you for a knighthood, or the Order of Canada or somethin…)I never miss it.

  4. you know……it’s pipesdrums, pipes|drums, er….piper and drummer, er….Andrew’s website……you know, that guy from Ontario……Canada that is, not California!!!!

    By any name, the source for what’s up in the piping….& drumming world!




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