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Black Bexar Pipe Band is starting to reorganize due to a decrease in band members.  If you are interested in receiving basic instruction to play the highland bagpipe or the tenor, bass or snare drum, please contact Sue Brannon (210 492-2530).  If you already play such instruments and wish to join a family-friendly band that mainly does performances, please contact Sue Brannon.

Black Bexar Pipe Band of San Antonio, Texas is a Grade IV pipe and drum band that competes at Highland games in Texas and surrounding states. Originally formed in 1994, the band was incorporated in 2002 and currently has an application pending with the IRS for non profit status.

Pipers, bass drummer, and tenor and snare drummers make up the Band which has earned a reputation as a quality, professional corps.  Many of its members compete in solo piping or drumming competitions.  The band has proudly worn the Flower of Scotland tartan since its inception.  However, we are currently switching over to the official Texas Bluebonnet tartan.

Although the Band has not competed in band competition for some time due to insufficient number of players, the Band is still available for hire for such events as weddings, dedications, funerals or parties.  Individual pipers are also available for hire.

Black Bexar is currently focusing on educating  the public and any interested students to the highland bagpipe and drums.  Not only do we focus on the Scottish music, but also music of other Celtic areas such as Ireland and Wales.
Piping/Drumming Workshop
Black Bexar Pipe Band continues to sponsor a workshop for pipers and drummers, especially to help those in the central and southern portion of Texas who may not have the opportunity for continual lessons. Normally held on President's Day weekend, the workshop brings in top-level piping and drumming instructors to help everyone from beginning students to experienced pipers and drummers. The workshops give participants the opportunity to hone their skills, learn new tunes, and pick up tips on pipe and drum maintenance and performance, all in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Practice and Lessons
Black Bexar Pipe Band meets on Sunday afternoons at Christ Fellowship Church 5440 Vance Jackson. Sometimes the practice will be held at Northwood Presbyterian Church 518 Pike Road on a Tuesday evening. Check the calendar for time and place. Members receive instruction in everything from pipe or drum assembly and maintenance to playing tops and competition readiness. Pipers and drummers practice separately, then join together to refine the music. So whether you’re a first time player or have years of experience, there is a place for you with Black Bexar.

The Great Highland Bagpipe
The Great Highland Bagpipe, once used as an instrument of war by the Scots, is now a favorite of fans of Celtic music around the globe. The instrument's haunting tone can add atmosphere and evoke lasting memories at weddings and memorial services or funerals. The same instrument can also provide toe-tapping entertainment at a party or dance, where lively jigs, reels, and hornpipes create a vivacious atmosphere.

The Pipe Band Side Drum
The drum that most Americans call a field, or marching, snare is referred to as a “side drum” in pipe band drumming.  Black Bexar's drum corps is proud to use the latest Premier HTS700 as its standard line drum.

The side drum’s history closely parallels the incorporation of martial music into British Army regiments. When the Scottish regiments formed in the 18th century, they naturally turned to the bagpipe for their music source, and just as naturally, adapted the percussion instruments from the other regimental bands to provide the rhythm and cadence for marching. Those instruments were the side drum, bass drum, and tenor drum, and all are still in use today.

Of those three, the side drum has evolved the most radically. The first pipe band side drums were colorfully painted wood shells with calfskin heads held taut by ropes tying the top and bottom head-retaining rims together. Catgut snares stretching across the bottom head provided the “scratchy” sharp sound so essential and effective for projecting to the farthest soldiers in the formation. (Those ropes are still seen today, though vestigial and just for show, dangling from some band’s drums.) With the introduction of cast-metal lugs installed on the shell, tension screws from the rims to the lugs replaced the rope tensioning system, and allowed considerably tighter heads. Similarly, wire strand snares replaced the catgut, and this further enhanced the crispness already improved by the higher tensioned heads. Recently, a second snare assembly (then-unique to pipe band drumming but now embraced by some high school and college bands, and drum and bugle corps) was added to the top head, to boost the crispness yet another notch. This was soon followed by an even stronger head tensioning system pioneered by Premier Percussion, wherein the top and bottom rims are not attached to shell lugs, but instead “float” across the shell on a unified rim structure. This made possible such incredibly high tension that Premier actually launched a new line of drums designated HTS, for High Tension Snare. Probably 90% of the pipe bands in the world now use a Premier HTS, either the original HTS200 or the newer HTS700.

Copyright ©2014 • Black Bexar Pipe Band • All rights reserved.
Revised: August 23, 2014