The Bare Bones

The Bare Bones is a collection of exercises designed to teach drummers how to read and interpret the rhythms of pipe band drumming.  These reading exercises come in five groups and are tailored to each pipe band style.  Each exercise builds upon the knowledge gained from the previous one and, if followed from beginning to end, will give you the skills and knowledge to read any pipe band drum score.
Some might ask why I chose the name The Bare Bones for this reading course.  In my opinion, the two most important elements of our style are the unique RHYTHMS we use and our complex STICKING PATTERNS.  These two elements form the foundation, or skeleton, upon which everything we play is built.  Therefore, in order to read a pipe band drum score, a drummer must have a good understanding of how to read both rhythm and sticking patterns simultaneously. That is why, in The Bare Bones, I have isolated these two elements enabling drummers to hone their reading skills with minimal distractions.  Flams, drags, rolls and accents have all been removed leaving only the "bare bones" of our music. Please click on the groups below to start reading!

Group A:  The March
The march is addressed first due to the sheer volume of rhythms involved in the style.  This group introduces drummers to simple time (beats divided into two, four or eight).  Once the rhythms for this style are mastered, drummers will be able to perform 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 marches as well as 2/4 hornpipes (swung).

Group B:  The 2/2 Reel
The Reel group is quite small because it covers only rhythms found in reels and hornpipes performed "straight" or "round" (without swing).  As 2/2 is also a simple time signature, there will be many parallels between Groups A and B.

Group C:  The Jig
The Jig group addresses the styles performed with compound time (beats divided into three or six).  The knowledge gained in this group will also allow drummers to perform 9/8 slip jigs.

Group D:  The 6/8 March
The 6/8 March group will build on the knowledge of compound time gained in Group C with the addition of both "dot/cut" and "cut/dot" rhythms.  Completion of this group will facilitate reading of 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 marches.

Group E:  The Strathspey
The final group will focus on the most rhythmically misunderstood style that we play: The Strathspey.  Strathspeys are written in 4/4 time but use a combination of dot/cut rhythms borrowed from The March and Reel groups and triplet feel integral to the Jig group to create a unique and complex musical style.  Mastery of Groups A and C is highly recommended before attempting Group E.