Two RSPBA branches taking Mid-Section proposal to Music Board

Published: December 31, 2008
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After separate general meetings, the Midlands and Glasgow & West of Scotland branches of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association will take proposals to establish Best Bass-Section awards at every future RSPBA championship in every grade to the Association’s Music Board.

The proposal – “To introduce new Best Bass Section awards at RSPBA major championships.” – was passed unanimously at the Midlands Branch meeting in early December, and the Glasgow & West of Scotland Branch’s motion was carried at its December 6th meeting after a lively debate by a vote of 10 to five.

The proposals are in response to the Association’s decision in March 2008 to eliminate the Best Bass-Section prizes that had been awarded at the World, Cowal and British championships. Because there was never any rule that the awards had to be handed out, the RSPBA’s Music Board made the decision as a matter of policy, and it was subsequently approved by the National Council, the RSPBA’s official ruling body.

The proposed rules make no mention of “re-instating” the awards, and instead are positioned as creating a completely new rule. The proposals will be passed to the RSPBA’s Music Board for further discussion by, among others, newly appointed Glasgow & West of Scotland Branch Music Board representatives Don Bradford, Strathclyde Police Pipe-Major, and Alistair Graham of the Grade 3 Milngavie Pipe Band’s bass-section.

Arguments for officially creating the awards included the contention that bass-sections are currently the fastest growing part of pipe band membership, market demand and the idea that the awards are an incentive for bands to improve.

The RSPBA cited time constraints at prize-giving ceremonies as the primary reason for eliminating the prizes. Other arguments against Best Bass-Section awards include the assertion that they can encourage division within bands and detract from ensemble goals.

An online petition to re-instate the Best Bass-Section awards was presented to the RSPBA, but the appeal was subsequently rejected by the Association’s National Council.

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  1. WobblyTM

    If tennor drummers attended AGMs in the first place, this wouldnt be happening. It’s you’re own fault. If you dont want things to happen in the first place, be active. Dont moan when it’s done if you couldnt be bothered to go to the AGM!

  2. masonsapron

    Maybe if they follow through on their threat to boycott, then the rest of us can get back to what really matters…….Simply Pipes & Drums.

  3. MaxG

    i’d love to comment today’s tip-of-the-day bit from PM Walker, i know that for many musicians it’s much more than just a hobby as this mid-section issue shows

  4. masonsapron

    I see your point Ross, Our ears are becoming numb to it all ! It’s like when the kids won’t stop crying until they get their way.

  5. AndrewBerthoff

    On the other hand, those concerned could take the traditional route of doing nothing, grousing in the beertent and wondering why nothing ever changes . . .

  6. ThePipey

    Fair comment Tyler, I do remember getting my **** kicked and my head squeezed (you had to be there) many times by that same Mr Mclean. I do agree with your points about the difference they made to our band, however I guess Big Ian and the rest of that generation would have resolved this problem in a different way, thats all.

  7. ThePipey

    ….Ithe last word from me…..I just remembered, frequently over the years Tom, Gordon, Ian and the rest said that they’d have traded all of the drumming / bass section prizes for just one band win. I think that says it all.

  8. TyFry

    At least that’s one thing we can agree on Ross! Every drummer I know would prioritise the success of the band. But excellence in the drum corp and bass section form but a small part of that priority and that’s what these awards recognise(d).

  9. aikendrum

    Let’s put this in perspective. We all belong to the, or a, Pipe BAND association. We play in a BAND, or the PIPES & DRUMS. The ultimate prize we all aspire to is the BAND prize. On the way to that result recognition is taken of the role the drum corps play in that performance.The Drummers play as a team to add a rhythmical accompaniment to the Pipe melody and strive for the best ENSEMBLE performance. To follow the argument for the award to its ultimate conclusion, will we now see players wanting an award for the best pipe corps, the best bass and tenor corps, the best snare drum corps and the overall band prize reduced to an also ran result. No, I don’t think so. The drive for this campaign has come from, as ever, the vociferous few wanting to have their own way, and sod the rest of the people. What percentage of total membership comprise Bass/Tenor drummers? – a lot less than a quarter I reckon, but I could be wrong. What number of bands realistically can expect to have a chance of winning or being placed in such a competition ?- very few I reckon. The great number of bands struggle to provide tenor drummers so let’s have a level playing field for this. And let’s not forget, Tenor drummers are OPTIONAL.

  10. Lugnuts

    And what if there weren’t those drumming and section trophies…..is it possible that a band like the Boggies could have copped a Worlds or two??? Just thinking….

  11. duncanmillar

    How does this square with the fact that we give best drum section awards in MAP grades where the judges are supposed to be focusing on ensemble? RSPBA Champion of Champions 2008 Grade 4A Band – Black Bottle of Islay Drumming – Black Bottle of Islay Grade 4B Band – Stockbridge Drumming – Stockbridge

  12. scottcurriepercussion

    Once again Lawrie, it’s difficult for me or anyone else to take anything you say with more than a pinch of salt without you putting your money where your big mouth is by throwing your name behind your point, whatever that actually happens to be. Just as I and others have provided our own submissions to the powers that be and pipes|drums readers as to why the presence of such awards contributes towards the growth and improvement of quality of bass sections, perhaps you could use your own keenly honed powers of presumption to manufacture your own ‘evidence’ in support of your own contra-argument. We’ve done our homework; you go do your own! However, in doing so, you may wish to “carry yourself a bit better.” ;-) I will though make one observation – the closer this topic makes it back to the debating table at Washington Street, the louder and less dignified you have become in your efforts to discredit those in support of the awards. My cards are on the table for everyone to see – I have invested way too much into my ‘hobby’ over three decades to sit idly by and watch while a handful of likeminded, influential individuals dismantle and devalue over 50 years of history and progress. If making my best efforts to contribute in some small way towards attempting to preserve and continue that history puts my character out there to be judged as an egotist by the likes of you, then I suppose I’ll just have to live with that. Those who know me personally know what I’m about. I’ll leave others like you that don’t to make it up!

  13. Bagpipermann

    Yes, it is enough…….but I was actually referring to the sniping back and forth between SC Dri\umming and Laurie. Coincidentally, I just happen to be watching UFC Fight Night right now. In fact, James Irvin just KO’d Huston Alexander in first 10 seconds of the very first round with a superman punch. But, I digress…… Let’s just get the prize reinstated and move on….. Signed, Altodrummermann (formerly known as Bagpipermann).

  14. Lawrie

    ps – history gets re-written all the time, Craig. I applaud and respect your research and skills but it’s inevitable that some things will change. Maybe you need to read between the lines and see that the underlying message from the powers-that-be is ‘enough already!’. How much more can you do, drumming-wise, or do you propose to do, within the parameters that are prescribed? The OTT, non-musical flourishing, and the jumping around like rock stars is enough…..or is it? Where to from here? Maybe it’s a case of Danny Carey, Lombardo or Bonham being stuck in a kilt…? If so, leave pipe bands and join a rock band. The bass/tenor ceiling has been hit, and the message is being sent to you. Look at piping – there is a limit in the band contest environment. Mark Saul et al do a fantastic job of pushing the boundaries….but outside the realm of pipe bands. Maybe bass/tenor people need to go there, on their own……and see how you go without the band framework (pipes and sides) to support you…. The sky won’t fall in if the decision stands. If they did away with the world pipe band championship, for example, we’d all find a way to move on. This is all pretty boring now. If it means so much, boycott the worlds and see how much you’re missed, and how much the contest suffers. I’m tipping you’d all be there by choice, regardless, trophy or not. History is just that. Time to move on.

  15. scottcurriepercussion

    Mitch, to answer your question, the awards were indeed formerly known/announced as ‘Best Bass Drum’. The awards began being known/announced as ‘Best Bass Section’ around late 1980′s/early 1990′s.

  16. Rolly

    Lawrie, yes change is inevitable. The changes in today’s midsections are undeniable. The changes in the musicality and sophistication of the compositions plus the tonal contributions are undeniable. The need for a change in the way these midsections are adjudicated is undeniable. Show me a judging sheet that adequately evaluates a midsection and perhaps we will all shut up. The RSPBA needs to address this, not remove an award which has to date been the only real recognition that the midsections have ever really received. In a genre of music that puts the various elements under a microscope for evaluation, why is it that midsections are not being equally assessed? The reason is that there are not any people currently qualified to do so or the few who are able to do this justice have not been approached to do so by the association. The associations across the world need to move towards adding a midsection judge to the panel at contests. Yes, it is inevitable that things change and this is the change that is needed here. Sorry, but I completely disagree with you and your statement that enough is enough”. We have clearly not done enough. “

  17. aikendrum

    Tenor drummers are optional – Yes BMorgan, they are. Also they do not contribute 0% of the score they contribute the 40 or 50% of the marks you state, as part of the drum corps. If pipers play harmonies they don’t get an award for the ‘best harmony line’ which in essence is what the tenor and bass section do as a best underlying rhythm line and melodic accompaniment, the tenor and bass section contribute to the drum corps as a body, not as separate parts. To come back to one of my original points, the drum corps is a team, a sum of the parts, a synergy. My comment about tenor drummers being optional was taking the line of :-tenor drummers are not necessary to compete but where they do they are part of a team and not the be all and end all, which I feel is where this whole discussion is leading. Put the dummy back in, get the toys back in the pram and let’s get on with playing MUSIC(not you personally but all the tenor drummers who think they are God’s gift).

  18. WobblyTM

    because if it did, people might actualy start to realise they can stop things if they can be bothered *cough*cough*tenor drummers*cough*cough*

  19. Lawrie

    Here’s a question: how can all this tenor drumming hype be about anything but the ‘BIG SHOW’ (big numbers, OTT flourishing and LOOK AT ME!!)..? I’ve seen some bands rig up a harness so one tenor drummer can play 3 drums. Why are we yet to see a single tenor drummer with 3 drums attached to one harness? They are light enough, and you only have to waddle 20 yards into the circle. A single snare drum would still be heavier than 3 tenor drums. But then I guess a mere 2 tenor drummers playing 6 drums between them, despite requiring more skill and coordination to do so, doesn’t look as cool as 9 puffed up peacocks, mainly because they couldn’t flourish or look as big and catch the eye…..oh, hang on I forgot – I’m about to be told it is ‘all about the music’! Give me a break. If it was, there would be much smarter ways to deliver the music, like a proper utilisation of a very simple instrument. It’s all about the big show, don’t kid yourselves or, worse still, try to kid anyone else.

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TIP OF THE DAY
To help with strathspey rhythm, think of the dance step, “STEP, together, step, hop.” for the four beats in the bar.
Anne Spalding, Broughty Ferry, Scotland