How Slow Can You Go?: Breaking Down the Massed Band 3/4

This week we'll be discussing the North American massed band 3/4 drum score. The 3/4 is the easiest of the three massed band scores to play but there are still a couple of sections to keep an eye on.

  1. Drags: In the second part there are a series of drags and tap drags played over a series of eighth and sixteenth notes. If we interpret the notation literally--as I have done in the videos below--this passage should be played without swing. As the pipe band drumming style has evolved, however, so has the interpretation of this section. These days the drag taps are almost always played with swing.
  2. "Fast" and "Slow" Fives: The fourth part of the 3/4 score is similar to the first part of the 4/4 in that it uses "fast" and "slow" five stroke rolls in close proximity. Remember that the underlying subdivision of the "slow" five is sixteenth note triplets and the underlying subdivision of the "fast" five is 32nd note sextuplets.

The massed band 3/4 is also very useful for practicing "easy" rolls like the sevens and thirteens found in the first and third parts. Unfortunately for many inexperienced drum corps, the inability to start and end these "easy" rolls together can lead to many comments on the score sheet (not good ones). Practicing and corps-ing this score (even the easy parts) is very useful for improving general drum corps unison. We'll start with the slowest version:


Massed Band 3/4 (Slow Tempo)


Massed Band 3/4 (Medium Tempo)


Massed Band 3/4 (March Tempo)

Next week we'll be breaking down the massed band 6/8 score. Until then, happy drumming!


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