A grass-roots online petition intended to lobby the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association to reinstate Best Bass-Section awards at its major championships has gathered 688 names since its posting in March 2008 following the association’s decision to eliminate the awards.
The organization’s move was met with outcry from most of the world’s tenor and bass players, and is still the subject of heated debate throughout the pipe band world.
Organized by Scott Currie, a tenor-drummer with the Grade 1 House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band, and posted at his SC Drumming website, the names gathered in the “Bring Back OUR Best Bass Section Awards” petition include many prominent members of the world’s most well known bands, including Shotts’ Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson and Lead-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick, St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe-Major Terry Tully and Lead-Drummer Stephen Creighton, and Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders’ Pipe-Major Bill Livingstone and Lead-Drummer Drew Duthart.
“All the information and breakdowns are there to see,” said Currie. “We have some well known names on the petition and our 688 signatures have come from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Eire, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Uruguay.”
The RSPBA’s National Council ratified a recommendation by the association’s Music Board to eliminate the Best Bass-Section awards that were offered at three of the association’s majors, including the World Pipe Band Championship since 1985. There had been no formal rule to award the prizes, so the move was a change in policy intended to help speed up the march-past finale, which has sometimes lasted as long as two hours.
“We intend to formally present a hard copy of the petition to the RSPBA’s Chief Executive before the end of the season,” Currie said. “We are going to chat with a few other supporters at [the European Championships at] Lisburn to come to a consensus on the best way forward in relation to submission of the petition and also challenging the implementation of a rule/policy change in direct contravention of the Association’s own rules governing any such change (rule 1.34).
“The documentary evidence available, namely the RSPBA AGM Order Paper clearly highlights the omission of the true intention of the change to rule 3.58. It is there for all to see in black and white that there has been an unconstitutional failure to apply the doctrines of rule 1.34 to the change to rule 3.58. You don’t have to be a Harvard lawyer to see that there is no case to answer – the rule/policy change/whatever it was, is in clear breach of the the rules and should be overturned – simple. The decision to recognise this ultimately lies with the National Council.”
Currie noted that he has witnessed “no improvement” in the length of time at the march-past ceremonies at the two RSPBA championships this year. “Bandspeople are still on the field awaiting the announcement results hours after the competition finished,” he said. He added that he has not seen a significant change in the adjudication process after the elimination of the bass-section awards.
Best Bass-Section prizes can still be offered at the RSPBA’s non-championship events, provided a band has at least one tenor-drummer.