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Arts & Life

The 'Swinging' Sounds Of The Drums In A Pipe Band

Bagpipers and drummers from across North America and the U.K. hope to stay on the beat and in tune this week in Kansas City while competing in the annual Winter Storm piping and drumming contest. UPDATE: Cameron placed 3rd in the Intermediate Bass Drumming event.

One challenger, Joe Cameron, plays bass drum with the Kansas City-based Tullintrain West Pipe Band. On a recent Tuesday, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 40th and Main, the practice began with the tuning of the instruments.

Interview Highlights

On becoming a drummer: “Actually, my first instrument was a flute and it was all because of Jethro Tull," says Cameron. "And when I realized that it was a lot harder than it looked, I went to drumming. That’s always been my first love...I started drumming when I was 9, so 41 years ago basically.”

On the role of the drums: “My approach to pipe band drumming is that I view the drum line as a gigantic set of bagpipes...for me, the snare drums are like the chanter, expressing the melody...and the bass drum is tuned to the bass drone of the pipes, and the tenor drums are tuned to the tenor drones of the pipes.”

On the lure of a pipe and drum band: “I’ve always had a love affair with piping. I spent part of my childhood in the U.K. As a very small child, I remember going to see the Queen’s own Cameron Highlanders, which is a Scottish regiment in the British Army. Same last name as me, right? We told the guard at the barracks that we were Camerons and they turned out the whole pipe band to parade for us. And that was huge...so the hook was in for the piping and drumming aspect of it.”

On the “swing” of the drum score: “And if you listen to these scores, the swing to them and the accent patterns, it sounds like a kick chart to a Big Band tune...they’re meant to be swung.”

Drummer and teacher Joe Cameron competes on Friday, January 11, 2013, as part of the Winter Storm competition. This year, the event will be broadcast live.

Winter Storm Weekend- The Pipes & Drums Event, with master classes, competitions and a concert, January 11 - 13, 2013, Kansas City, Mo. The concert takes place on Saturday, January 12, 2013, 7:15 pm, Community Christian Church, 4601 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo.

The “Artists in Their Own Words” series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

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