The Grade 2 MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band of Dundee, Scotland, made what is thought to be a first for the piping and drumming world when the band officially changed leading-drummers in the middle of its medley competition performance at the last contest of the season at the Pitlochry Highland Games on September 9th.
The drum section made the move during the slow air when the band played up to Grade 1, and Barham Brummage transitioned duties to new lead-tip Calum Burns.
“It was suggested by the Pipe-Sergeant in a moment of madness that it would be a good idea to make the transition mid-way through the Grade 1 performance,” Brummage said. “An appropriate moment was identified in the slow air and the change was made ushering Calum Burns into his position as Leading-Drummer of the band. I would not imagine such a transition has been done before and certainly not so public. Not all changes are done with general disharmony.”
While drummers have at times had to take over the lead-tip position mid-performance due to illness or instrument malfunction, a permanent transition of duties mid-competition-performance has likely never occurred before.
The majority of leadership changes in pipe bands are made with some acrimony, and most recently the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band of Ontario dismissed Leading-Drummer Graham Brown, with most of the drum section following him in protest. Brown subsequently joined House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead. The band has reportedly already built a drum section of eight under new Leading-Drummer Graham Kirkwood.