The Sutherland Pipes and Drums, formed in 1965, is the culmination of a group of like minded individuals that wanted to promote the sound of the highland pipes and drums in the south eastern counties of England. Based in Corringham Essex, the concept and its practice and principles were the brainchild of one man following a chance meeting with a former Queens Own Cameron Highlander, Pipe Major Dan Macrae.
Founder Member, former Pipe Major and now Honorary President of the Sutherland Pipes and Drums, Mr Eddie Duce met Pipe Major Dan MacRae in the early sixties whilst on holiday in Scotland and after a short conversation began a lifelong friendship that would involve Eddie travelling up to Scotland on a regular basis for chanter lessons with the Pipe Major.
Eddie, together with a few friends, formed the basis of the band you see today. Wives and partners became the hard working committee members, supporting those who played instruments in managing the engagements, uniform procurement, fundraising and publicity in much the same way the bands committee manage the bands administration today.
Right from the beginning, key decisions were made in order to make the Sutherland Pipes and Drums unique amongst other bands that exist in the south east of England... these decisions included;
•That we would not perform in competitions, but instead promote the sound of the pipes and drums to the public and to train our pipers and drummers with a view to strengthening this vision.
•That the band’s March Past (regimental band tune) would be ‘The Heights of Cassino’ written by Pipe Major Dan Macrae during his military career when he was the Pipe Major of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders at the Battle of Monte Cassino during the Second World War.
•That we would base our principles on military bands, including the style of playing, drill and our uniform.
•And that we would wear the 42nd Argyll and Sutherland tartan (commonly known as the Black Watch) and the Sutherland Clan badge and in doing so, request permission from the countess of Sutherland and Lord Lyon of Arms (Scotland). Permission was sought and granted and formed the basis of our band name ‘The Sutherland Pipes and drums’.
These decisions and the permission gained from the Countess are the basis of the Sutherland Pipes and Drums style and deportment and the band continues to strengthen and evolve as time moves on. We now have a band with a diverse range of people from many different backgrounds, male and female, who are a credit to our sound and presentation.
Over the years, we have played in countries across Europe promoting the UK at trade fairs and ceremonial events. We have played for members of our Royal family at celebrations such as the anniversary of the liberation of Brussels in 1994. As well as Armistice parades, fetes, carnivals, military tattoos the band also has the pleasure of playing at weddings , Burns nights and other formal and informal dinners and dances.
As well as our vision to continually improve our hard work to develop our repertoire of tunes and displays, the members of the band are a social network of like minded friends who enjoy each other’s company and regularly meet on a social as well as professional level.
The Sutherland Pipes and Drums continue to welcome new members into their ranks and are as proud today as they were in 1965 to wear the uniform and display the crest of the Sutherland Clan..Its motto ‘Sans Peur’ which translates to ‘Without Fear’ is known and adopted by each band member. Although we do not go into battle, we strive to adopt the proud traditions of the Scots Guards by presenting ourselves with professionalism and excellence when we turn out to play in front of the Great British, and indeed the European public.
About the Band
The Band’ s uniform is based on traditional Highland military number one dress to promote the traditions and music of the Highland military.
The Pipers wear Green Doublets (jackets) with a full Plaid and the Drummers wear red doublets trimmed with crown tape (the colours of the English regiments) and a smaller drummers Plaid.
- The head-dress is commonly the ostrich feather bonnet sporting a red hackle.
- For ‘walking out’ the Glengarry (pipers with cock feathers and drummers with a red and white braided trim).
- The sporran is normally only worn as part of a ceremonial outfit and is made of the traditional 18" Horsehair.
We also wear a sgian-dubh which is worn tucked into the top of the kilt hose with only the upper portion of the hilt visible and a dirk with a 12" blade and lavishly decorated.
We represent a fusion of ancient and modern. Our music ranging from the foot tapping ‘come-al-yeas’ of the Ceilidh to the poignant laments.
We have played in England Germany Luxembourg and Belgium notably we have played at ‘Cinquantinairre’ in Brussels in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City’s Liberation.
This we did before Prince Andrew and in 1995 we played before Prince Edward in Luxembourg.
We have also represented Britain at British Fairs in Huy, Vise and Bastogne (Belgium).
About the Band
The origins of piping are shrouded by mystery, no one really knows where the original concept came from ;
the "Oxford History of Music" makes mention of the first documented bagpipe being found in the Middle East dated to 1000BC.
The bagpipes can still be found in different regions throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Persian Gulf,
the Caucasus, India and Pakistan.
Today there are many different forms of bagpipes, from the Small Pipes to the enchanting sound of the Great Highland. The Sutherland Pipes and Drums' pipers, play probably the most famous of bagpipes, The Great Highland Pipes, these are well know and played all over the world - not just in bonny Scotland.
The bagpipes are a very rewarding instrument to play and although we have only 9 notes to play with there are many styles to choose from, from the solitary piper playing his lament on a mountainside to mass bands playing marches and reels.
Learning to play takes patience and plenty of dedication, providing that trainee pipers are willing to give over an hour a day of their time to practice. The experienced pipers in the band are always willing to teach.
Learning the pipes starts with a small instrument called a practice chanter.
These smaller and much quieter practice instruments are used to master the scale and complex strings of notes known as doublings, prior to moving onto the bagpipes. There is a lot to take in, so be patient.
We firmly believe that the sound of the Great Highland Bagpipes and Drums still have a lot to offer in today's
modern society, people can often hear their sound from miles away, their emotions stirring as the band approaches.
Bagpipes in the band range from brand new McCallum Bagpipes right through to old R.G Hardie's and Naill's.
To keep our chanters sounding as accurate as each others, we all use Shepherds polypenco. (Nylon material)
As a piper of the Sutherland Pipes and Drums we can offer you tuition, friendship, an active social calendar and an enormous amount of personal satisfaction. Official band practise is on Thursday but during the summer months we often go out on a monday night and play for a couple of hours in the field before finishing it off with a nice cold pint of beer.
Playing the pipes is a very rewarding experience, it takes discipline, commitment and a long time to master but, the rewards are worth the training
The "Drum Section" consist of the Bass Section, Tenor Section and the Snare Section.
In the Drum Section there are four ranks...they are as follows:
Drum Major: Leads the band on parades and displays and is also in charge of drill.
Drum Sergeant: Controls all musical score for the Drum Section and is in overall charge of training of new drummers.
Drum Corporal: Is second in command to the Drum Sergeant.
Lance Corporal: Third in command to the Drum sergeant and second to the Drum Corporal.
The first thing that you will learn as a new drummer is how to roll. This is done by two taps on the right stick and then two taps on the left stick. This process, known as "mummy,daddy", continues alternating the sticks and slowly building up the speed until eventually a roll is produced.
Once you have mastered the drum roll, you will then move on to learning the drum beatings, which are, 6/8, 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4. The drum section also have several drum salutes which we play in the band displays.
Each one normally lasts 2 minutes and lets us show off a bit, so we can show just what you can do with a pair of sticks and a drum.
When at band practice, the drummers start practice on a drum pad which are normally made out of solid rubber and housed in a wooden or plactic frame. The kind of drums we use at band are called Premier HTS-200 with a Premier tendura batterhead. The HTS are used in Pipe Bands as they give you the sharpness and accuracy you need for pipe band drumming.
Now lets tell you about the bass and tenors!
The bass player is the one who keeps the tempo at the right speed while the tenor section will do their part with their flourishing.
There are a few versions of this which are called, piano 1,2,3 and 4, which are normally used for 6/8 tunes.
Pianos 1 and 2 can be used for 3/4, 2/4. 4/4 tunes.
There are two more which are called, windmill and butterfly which will be used on strathspeys and reel tunes.
If this sounds all too much to take in, do not fear. It will all be taught to you and in next to no time, you will be playing as if you have been playing for years.
There is no musical requirements and it will normally take 6 months to get you playing with the band.