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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
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.
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
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 ©2012 • Black Bexar Pipe Band • All rights reserved.
Revised: November 14, 2012