Complete Music for the Fife and Drum By Walter D. Sweet. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. (95483)
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The art of the "pigtail knot"
By Janis Rowell of Genesee Valley Fife & Drum
The key to the rope-tension drum is just that. The rope, and the tension. These two key elements are what keep the drum heads taught and give us the distinct sound of these "ancient" drums. Here is a brief tutorial on how to tie the finishing knot when roping a drum. This knot has to be unique, as it is the key to retaining tension once you've tightened your drum head. It is a special type of knot called a "pigtail" because it's curly like a pig's tail.
1. Start by tightening your drum, and pulling the rope through the hole in the starting end of the rope.
2. Twist the end piece of rope tighter upon itself near the drum.
3. Let the rope fold over on itself, as close to the drum as possible.
4. Wrap the rope around itself between the end and the drum, as tightly as possible. When you don't seem to be able to stuff anymore layers between the pigtail coils and the drum, this is when you try your hardest to force 'em in there! Hint: Wrap an extra layer around and pull it in, rather than pushing with your thumb. This is where the last bit of tension is added.
5. The pig tail will stay put and keep the tension on the ropes. Finish it off by threading the rest of the rope behind the adjacent rope, then on top of the front of the adjacent rope, and then behind and down through them both. Or, knot it how you want, as long as the pigtail is in no danger of uraveling. Finish remaining rope off with chain knot.
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