WORLDS PREVIEW Q&A: Keith Orr
12 August 2015
Tell us a little more about the corps preparations for the Worlds.
Prep for the Worlds starts in earnest after the split in the season every year and goes up a gear on Worlds week itself. We, as probably most bands, will have two full open practice days in that week and I personally think that this is a great opportunity for the public to get an insight into the way that bands prepare for the Worlds and this obviously varies from band to band.
I think that this week gives us a chance to really get down to business and iron out any of the small issues that may need looking at. This is a time to finalise the drum sound which is most important on the day. It is also important that the weather allows us to play outside so we can best mirror the conditions for the competition day.
How do you feel the corps have developed since winning last year’s championship?
I think that the drum corps has made ground from last year and the performances and results show the improvement which have been made. This grade never stands still of course and constant progression is essential to keep at the sharp end of things.
When and how did you get into pipe band drumming?
I started drumming aged 10 (I think?) it was quite a while ago now!
Who played a key role in mentoring you in the early years?
A local man who was actually leading drummer of the band at the time was my first tutor during my initial learning stage but the main influence on my drumming career in later years was the late Bobby Rea, who had a big impact on the Northern Ireland drumming scene in general and was one of the most noted players of a generation.
What is your most memorable achievement to date?
My most memorable achievement has to be winning the World Drum Corp Championship and World Pipe Band Championship in 2013 and also the Champion of Champions drumming title and band title in the same year.
Why is the HTS 800 an integral element to the sound of the band?
The HTS 800 is particularly important for our set up as a band as it lets me achieve the required pitch which matches our pipe sound and the projection needed to cope with the volume of the pipe corps. Also, clarity is always critical to showcase the complexity of pipe band drumming and there is no drum on the market in my opinion that gives you all three components in one package like the HTS 800. It is a well constructed drum mechanically and gives us a product that we can depend on from year to year.
What’s your view on the future of pipe band drumming in general, what do you feel could be changed?
I think that there are always people speculating that this or that has reached a peak and cannot go any further as regards to band size and performance perfection, but it just seems to keep getting better every year!
Possibly the format will change in years to come with medley formation or something in that line but, who knows when or what form that will take. Maybe a freestyle section in which no holds are barred?? Medley playing is still governed by restraints at present and I think this may change slightly but not massively.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring drummers looking to get the best sound out of their drums?
Like any instrument, there are many different sounds that can be produced from the same drum but by different corps and all may have their merits in different situations and band set ups.
Also, there are guidelines from books and you tube clips etc to help set up your drum but it does, in the end, come down to experience and trial and error to get the sound that you want to hear. Finally, the choice of drum head and sticks are a big factor in the eventual sound that is produced.
Will Field Marshal Montgomery retain their title this year? The World Pipe Band Championships takes place this weekend on Glasgow Green. The Premier team will in attenance too within the Trader Village.