Basic Theory: The Reel

Good news for all sight-readers:  The round reel is the simplest of all the pipe band styles in terms of the number of different note values they use.  Most round reels are made up of quarter notes and eighth notes with the occasional flourish of sixteenth notes thrown in for higher level scores.  Dot/cut and cut/dot notes are extremely rare as are half notes which appear only when a very long roll is needed.  Triplets are also used sparingly but they do make occasional appearances.

Round reels are written in 2/2 time and there are two beats in every bar like the example below:

Rhythm Syllables

There are six principle rhythm syllables that I use for the reel, the majority of which I have borrowed from elementary music teachers who have been using these syllables for years with their classes.  "Tah", "Titi", "Tika-Tika", "Ti-Tika" and "Tika-Ti" are very familiar to most elementary music students.  It is gratifying to see students' faces when they realize there is a connection between what they've been learning in school and pipe band drumming!

As in the march, the pronunciation of the syllables is extremely important.  Note the correct pronunciation of the syllables below: 

"Tah" is pronounced how it looks. 

"Titi" = "TEE TEE" 

"Tika-Tika" = "TICKA TICKA" 

"Ti-Tika" = "TEE TICKA" 

"Tika-Ti" = "TICKA TEE"