Bag Piping & Drumming

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The pipes and drums are arguably the most popular attraction at Highland games. The skirl of pipes and swirl of kilts, majestic drum majors and pageantry of massed bands abound. In addition to competitions the San Diego Games offer opportunities for "playing for critique" and one-on-one instruction from some of the finest pipers in the world. Competitors of all ages are an important part of our Games.

A bagpipe consists of a blowpipe chanter and three drones; one bass and two tenors, each attached to a bag traditionally made from an animal hide, although man-made fabrics are also used. The drones are made of a variety of hardwoods such as African blackwood, or state of the art plastics.

The pipes are said to have originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. Through centuries of changes and additions and the trip from Africa to Scotland the fingering has remained the original Arabic.

The San Diego Games offer a full range of piping competitions. Novices play the simplest music - marches or slow airs. Higher classes play marches plus more modern and complex types of music including reels, strathspeys, jigs and hornpipes. Some competitors also play the most ancient form of pipe music, the piobaireachd (pronounced "pee-brock").

Drummers played a central role in the daily operations of the military during the early days of the Highland Regiments. Snare, tenor and bass drums were used then, and are still the three styles used in Highland Games competitions today. Solo drumming competition actually involves a drummer and a piper, although only the drummer is judged. The competitor is rated on the sound of the drum itself, the technical ability of the drummer, and how well the rhythms played complement the piper's background tune.