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Surf’s Up

Published: December 31, 1999

At The Beach, Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, Monarch Klub Records (CDMON 836)

At The Beach, the first CD from the Los Angeles Scots, contains 17 tracks, of which eight feature the full band. The rest are a mixture of solo tracks, a duet, solo on Deger pipes, pipe corps/percussion and pipe/guitar combos. The sleeve notes are a bit brief, not mentioning the piper on track five (although I assume it is Seumas Coyne), and the names of the tracks are mixed up in track eight.

The pipe band tracks overall have a bright and well pipe section set tone, very reminiscent of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band—hardly a surprise given the connections between the two bands. The balance of pipes and drums is generally good throughout At The Beach. What’s lacking is a better resonance from the bass drum, though, and it needs to be more dominant. The use of harmonies is plentiful, but in the main enhances the music.

The L.A. Scots play in an enjoyable, very relaxed manner. It is a few years since I heard them and they certainly are moving upwards steadily. The only faults I would pick here are the odd lapses in the unison and blowing.

The pure pipe band tracks very much follow the predictable music of the bands: MSR, hornpipes, selection 6/8s, 9/8s, 3/4s—no real surprises on the content side. There are some fine tunes scattered through the recording, such as the popular 6/8 Bruce Gandy’s Farewell to the Iron Horse

RSPBA in Turmoil?

Published:

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has continued its year of turmoil as the organization struggles to redefine its role in the pipe band world.

Executive Officer Iain White has allegedly announced that he will step down from the RSPBA’s most important post after the organization’s annual general meeting in March 2000. White reportedly will stay on until then so that he can attend the AGM, which is expected to be a heated session.

At the most recent meeting of the Glasgow Branch of the RSPBA, Matt Connell, Chairman of the RSPBA and a member of the branch, was given a vote of no confidence, thus setting the stage for his inability to stand again for the Chairmanship.

One observer described the situation as “a shambles.”

In other RSPBA news, the organization’s ad hoc ‘Millennium Committee’ is on the verge of presenting its much anticipated report outlining recommendations for the future.

It is thought by many that one of the most significant proposals will be for the RSPBA to set conflict of interest rules that will prevent merchants in piping and drumming paraphernalia from judging.

The Millennium Committee report will also address marketing and management issues, and provide a vision for the RSPBA for two, five and 10 years in the future.

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Polkemmet Still Together, Looking to Return to Grade 1

Published:

The Polkemmet Pipe Band is still together and reportedly practicing hard to return to Grade 1 status as quickly as possible.

The band had reputedly broken up some weeks ago, but, according to Pipe Major Steven Young, has added players, is practcing regularly, and looking forward to the new season.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association downgraded the well established Grade 1 band to Grade 2 after the 1999 season, along with three other Scottish bands. Polkemmet has accepted the relegation, and there are no reports that it will be appealed.

“We’re obviously very disappointed at the downgrading but are currently practicing hard for the new season,” said Pipe Major Steven Young. “Our numbers have grown since last year and we’re very confidant of a quick return to Grade 1.”

Other bands relegated to Grade 2 are Ravara, Grampian Police, and Lothian & Borders Police. With new a new Pipe Major, Lead Drummer, and personnel on board, Lothian & Borders have appealed the RSPBA’s decision and are hoping to be in Grade 1 for the 2000 season.

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CPA Asks Members for Opinions on Judges

Published:

The Competing Pipers Association has distributed a survey to its members around the world asking for their feedback on their level of respect for and faith in piping judges who commonly adjudicate professional events.

The survey is thought to be a first in the history of piping, and is the first big move by the CPA’s new executive.

Members are asked for feedback on more than 50 judges in both piobaireachd and light music. Each judge receives a mark out of four options, from total faith to complete misgivings.

Also included on the list are several North American judges, including Archie Cairns, Bob Worrall, and Willie Connell. The inclusion of North Americans is seen by some as a move by the CPA to become more worldwide.

This is a brilliant and extraordinary step by the CPA

Hearing Loss Secondary to Sound Exposure

Published:

By Dr. Patrick L. Potter, MD, FRCPC

No studies have been completed with respect to hearing loss in Highland pipers or drummers. Therefore, one can only postulate a possible cause and effect relationship with respect to hearing loss due to years of musical performance. There is, however, anecdotal evidence that suggests such hearing loss occurs. Given the sound intensity during playing of the Highland pipes, particularly during band performance, compared to other orchestral studies, one may assume that there could be a significant effect on hearing. (Ogilvie) A number of pipers have encountered high frequency bearing loss in patterns consistent with hearing loss due to excessive environmental noise. This article will deal with the effect on hearing by sound exposure, in particular, exposure to loud music.

The Highland bagpipe produces sound between the frequencies of 115 hertz (Hz) (bass drone) and 920Hz (high A). Although these are the fundamental frequencies, there are harmonics associated with all musical sounds and the sound energy produced by the Highland bagpipe covers a much broader spectrum of frequencies because of the nature of the harmonies.

Sound levels produced by the Highland pipes can be measured by a small microphone in the ear canal or can be measured in the space surrounding a performer. In the fundamental frequencies, there is fairly high energy production peaking at approximately 93 decibels (dB). Significant sound energy is produced in the higher frequencies going up to 8,000Hz, well outside what we consider our musical range, but still of importance because this is the total sound energy that is being experienced by the ear.

Figure 2 demonstrates the sound frequencies and level of exposure experienced by a violinist, again using the left ear canal, and noting that the strings of the violin are immediately adjacent to the ear. Because of the small distance between the ear and the strings, the sound energy produced on the violin is similar to the pipes, in the intensity experienced by the performer. Sound energy dissipates rapidly the greater distance the observers are away from the point of sound production. Sound intensity levels in the several feet surrounding a solo piper are in the range of 85 to 90dB SPL. Six pipers produce a sound intensity in the range of 95 to 102dB. With the addition of the drum corps, measuring around the circle during a performance, the sound experienced by the players as a whole sometimes exceeds 11OdD.

Playing in confined spaces increases the intensity of sound experienced as this does not allow for dissipation of the sound energy.

Sound energy produced by different pipe bands is likely only to vary 5-1OdB from the levels noted, the major difference being in the number of players.

Although there is anecdotal evidence that there is an association with hearing loss among pipers, there have been no specific studies looking at the frequency of this hearing loss pattern within Highland musicians. When hearing loss occurs due to sound exposure, over an extended period, usually in terms of years, there is a common pattern of hearing loss. Figure 3 demonstrates a normal audiogram in a piper without symptoms. All threshold levels of sound can be appreciated.

Figure 4 shows that hearing loss in the high frequency range for a piper is normally seen due to sound exposure. There is a drop in the threshold at which sound can be appreciated in the higher frequencies after 3,000Hz, This means that a sound has to be 2OdB louder to be heard by this person compared to normal hearing. In this particular case, there is no history of exposure to any other high sound intensities in either work, home or recreational areas. The only high intensity levels have been within pipe bands over the past fifteen years. The hearing deficit was not readily apparent to the player except when in environments in which there was background noise such that conversational speech was difficult to hear.

Temporary threshold loss is one symptom experienced which may be associated with later hearing loss due to sound exposure. After leaving band practice where they have played for an extended period of time in a confined space, band members experience numbness or ringing in the ears and for a few hours after playing, they are unable to hear properly. Studies done on noise exposure in the work environment and in orchestra musicians indicate that temporary threshold hearing loss is a sign that with repeated exposure to such sound levels one might go on to more permanent hearing loss.

Music played at the same sound levels as industrial noise does not result in the same extent of hearing loss. The non-steady state nature of music (i.e. the varying intensity of sound) may reduce the hazard to hearing produced by musical sound. Of 250 professional musicians (not Highland musicians) seen for non-hearing related problems (i.e. people who had no symptomatic hearing loss) 89-percent had some evidence of loss in the typical 3,000 to 6,000Hz region during a screening hearing examination.(Chasin.1992)

Guidelines
Guidelines for conservation of hearing in industry have been published and in gen-eral 9OdBa is the commonly quoted sound exposure threshold for an eight-hour day. 90dBa is a compromise level which has been chosen to protect the hearing of workers for those frequencies necessary for speech (i.e. 500 to 3,000Hz). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggests that 85dBa exposure would be more realistic in terms of hearing protection. Very commonly in industrial noise levels exceed 9OdBa. Industrial standards of sound intensity versus duration of exposure are shown in Table 1.

Summary:
In summary, a cause and effect relationship between exposure levels above 90dB an hearing loss has been documented in the industrial population. The temporary hearing loss seen related to music appears to be less than that related to the same sound levels if produced by industrial noise. The sound levels experienced in a pipe band with all members performing approaches the upper ranges of what is acceptable, a shown in Table 1.

Although there are no statistics to directly state that there is definite hearing loss related to pipe band performance, there is likely enough information to postulate that this is a potential problem with exposure to such sound levels over a long period. In this regard, the next step would be to look at what is available for hearing protection.

Dr. Patrick Potter is a leading authority in Canada on physical medicine and rehabilitalion, and he is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is a piper and an original member of the Halifax Police Pipe Band of Nova Scotia.

References
Chasm M. Chong J. “A clinically efficient hearing protection program for musicians.” Med Probl Perform Art 1992,7:4043.
Jerger J, Jerger S. “Temporary threshold shin in rock-and-roll musicians.” J Speech Hearhig 19,0,13:221-224.
Karlsson K, Lundquist PG, Olaussen T. ‘The hearing of symphony orchestra musicians.” Scan Audiol 1983.12:257-264
Ogilvie 0. “Now hear this (if you can).” New Zealand Pipe Bandsman Magazine 1985, p 8 -10.

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Century-old John MacDonald, Inverness Medal

Published: November 30, 1999

The medal to the right apparently was won by Pipe Major John MacDonald, Inverness. The question is, which contest would it have been from and when?

The medal was discovered at an antique shop in Edinburgh, and was snapped up by a piping enthusiast who prefers to leave his name out of the discussion.

It’s 18kt gold, and is apparently handmade with very delicate craftsmanship throughout. On the reverse of the medal is simply engraved, “John MacDonald, Inverness.”

The hallmark dates its casting as 1896, but this does not necessarily mean that it was won then, since multiple castings are often made for subsequent years. Therefore, the medal would have been won sometime between 1896 and 1910.

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Polkemmet Reportedly Disbanded

Published:

Unconfirmed reports from the UK contend that the long-established Polkemmet Pipe Band has folded after its relegation to Grade 2 by the RSPBA. If true, it brings an end to a band with a rich tradition of excellence.

Polkemmet enjoyed considerable success from 1979 to 1993, starting with P/M Johnny Barnes, moving to P/M Robert Mathieson (1982-1986), and P/M David Barnes (1988-1993). Under Mathieson, the band made the ground breaking recording, “From Celtic Roots.” With David Barnes, Polkemmet won several major championships, and narrowly missed winning the World’s in 1991.

Based in the village of Whitburn, West Lothian, Polkemmet rose to prominence during the post-war era of colliery bands. The trimuverate of Polkemmet Colliery, Shotts & Dykehead, and Boghall & Bathgate are based with ten miles of each other, and all three bands have enjoyed a friendly rivalry.

The band had been led since 1993 by Steven Young.

Said one pipe band insider, “It’s a shame that Polkemmet’s had to chuck it in. There was a lot of tradition there, so hopefully someone will start it again soon.”

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Cairn on the Hill a Lesson to Us All

Published:

“The Cairn on the Hill” is the latest in the growing trend towards preservation of the music of Robert Brown. The very successful “Masters of Piobaireachd” volumes have already been released on CD, compiling archive recordings of the “Bobs of Balmoral,” two of the most influential teachers of piobaireachd in the last century.

“The Cairn on the Hill” is actually a re-release of a vinyl recording made in the 1960s, but long deleted by whatever record company originally put it out. Digitally mastered, the new CD comprises eight tracks, three being piobaireachd, the music for which Brown was most noted.

Bob Brown would have been in the very later years of his life when he made this recording, and that’s where the biggest problem lies. Although it’s wonderful to have recordings of his renditions of “Cill Chriosd,” “Lament for Alisdair Dearg,” and “The Old Woman’s Lullaby,” the remaining five light music tracks perhaps should not have been put out again.

There’s no doubt that Brown was a top-flight player of ceol beag in his prime, but on this recording he is clearly well past his best playing days, even if he does perform well for a man in his seventies.

The piobaireachd tracks (and especially “Glengarry’s March”), as can be expected, are sublime. These are where the real value of the recording rest. Pipers new to piobaireachd can listen to and learn “Alisdair Dearg,” a lovely piece with plenty of musical brilliance, and truly hear the song in “The Old Woman’s Lullaby.”

The re-release of “The Cairn on the Hill” is welcome for its piobaireachd, but, unfortunately, the decision to include the light music tracks perhaps does not do justice to this great piper’s true playing ability.

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Bill Weir Wins Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational

Published:

Hamilton, Ontario – November 20, 1999 - Bill Weir of Albany, New York, was the overall winner of the 1999 George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Piping Competition here today in a closely contested event that featured 13 of North America’s top amateur pipers.

Weir achieved the aggregate by winning the March, Strathspey & Reel event, and two third prizes in the 6/8 March and Piobaireachd competitions.

Decker Forrest of San Diego, California, captured first prize in the Piobaireachd, playing a very professional rendition of “MacDougall’s Gathering,” one of the most challenging tunes in the repertory.

Andrew Douglas of Syracuse, New York, won the 6/8 March event playing “Duncan McGillivray, Chief Steward” and “Benguillon.”

“The Sherriff” has become known over its four years as the ultimate competition for amateur pipers and a stepping stone to professional. This year’s event drew a large crowd at the beautiful McMaster University Convocation Hall venue.

Results:

Piobaireachd: 1st Decker Forrest, 2nd Steven Tripp, Trout Creek, Ontario; 3rd: Bill Weir; 4th Lynda MacKay, Hanover, Ontario; 5th Douglas MacRae, London, Ontario.

MSR: 1st Bill Weir; 2nd Steven Jenkins, Georgetown, Ontario; 3rd Decker Forrest; 4th Douglas MacRae; 5th Lynda MacKay

6/8 March: 1st Andrew Douglas, 2nd Steven Tripp; 3rd Bill Weir; 4th David Duckett, Pickering, Ontario; 5th Decker Forrest.

Other competitors were Alison Dunsire, Camano Island, Washington; Mike Kotch, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Sebastian Launcelott, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Keith Petrie, Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Heather Scott, Norwood, Massachusetts.

Judges for the events were Willie Connell, London, Ontario; Michael Grey, Toronto, Ontario; and Andrew Berthoff, Toronto, Ontario.

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Duncan Johnstone Dies

Published:

Duncan Johnstone, one of the best post-World War II pipers ever, died suddenly in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 13.

Johnstone was renowned especially for his ability as a jig player, and was one of the first Highland pipers to make an art form of jigs and hornpipes. He was also a top class piobaireachd player.

In his latter years, Johnstone dedicated much of time to teaching. Among his pupils were the well known pipers Douglas Pincock an Neil Dickie.

In the 1980s, Johnstone published two collections of tunes, including many of his own. As a composer he was known for his clever and inventive melodies and rhythms. His 3/4 march, “Farewell To Nigg,” is almost standard in the repertoires of most pipers and bands. He is commemorated in Donald MacLeod’s hornpipe, “Duncan Johnstone” — one of the greatest light music compositions ever made.

Duncan Johnstone — “King of the Jigs” — will be sadly missed by the piping world.

Brian Lamond New Pipe Major of Dysart & Dundonald

Published:

Information from Scotland report that Brian Lamond of Inverkeithing, Fife, is the new Pipe Major of the once famous Dysart & Dundonal Pipe Band.

Lamond replaces 1999 Inverness Silver Star winner James Murray, of Glenrothes, Fife, at the band’s helm.

For most of the 1990s, Lamond played with the Victoria Police Pipe Band (1998 World Champions), and lived periodically in Melbourne, Australia. In 1999, Lamond played with Ontario’s Peel Regional Police Pipe Band.

Brian Lamond has gained notoriety as not only a piper, but a singer/songwriter. After teaching himself to play the guitar, Lamond recorded “Another Day at the Office,” a CD that showcases his songs and piping.

Since James Murray took over Dysart & Dundonald three years ago, the band has climbed steadily from near relegation to Grade 2, to a far more respectable Grade 1 band.

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Stars Shine at Highland Ball

Published:

The annual Highland Ball of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario was held in St. Catharines, Ontario, on November 13, with over 500 pipers, drummers, and enthusiasts attending the gala event.

The packed house enjoyed performances from the Champion Supreme bands from the 1999 season, and watched as solo pipers and drummers accepted their championship awards for overall achievement over the year.

The Highland Ball was organized by the Niagara-Hamilton branch of the PPBSO.

1999 Champion Supreme Winners

Bands

Grade 1: 78th Fraser Highlanders
Grade 2: Niagara Regional Police
Grade 3: Toronto Police
Grade 4: Strathnaver

Solo Piping

Piobaireachd

Professional: Andrew Berthoff
Senior Amateur: Lynda MacKay
Junior Amateur: Judith Irwin
Novice: David Wm Brown

Light Music

Professional: John Cairns
Grade 1: Glenn Pocock
Grade 2: Lionel Tupman
Grade 3: Jacob Dicker
Grade 4: Christopher Forgan
Grade 5: Jamie Sawyer
Over 50: John McCaffrey

Solo Drumming

Professional: Graham Pocock
Grade 1: Jeremy Roberts
Grade 2: Craig Mercer
Grade 3: Gail Bennet
Grade 4: Noah Jentzen/Devon Lambert
Grade 5: Heather Craig
Open Bass: Craig Colquhoun
Open Tenor: Sarah Connoly
Open Drum Major: John Steinhoff
Novice Drum Major: Everett Armour

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RSPBA Makes Regradings

Published:

In what must be one of the most sweeping demotions in pipe band history, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has decided to demote four Grade 1 bands to Grade 2.

Polkemmet, Lothian & Borders Police, Ravara, and Grampian Police have all been relegated to Grade 2, while City of Washington, winners of the Grade 2 event at the 1999 World’s, has been promoted to Grade 1.

Of those demoted, Polkemmet and Lothian & Borders Police are the bands with the most nostalgia behind them. Until the mid-1990s, Polkemmet has had a long tradition of success in Grade 1, stemming from the days of P/M John Barnes, to P/M Robert Mathieson, to P/M David Barnes. The band won several major titles under the direction of David Barnes.

The move of Lothian & Borders Police to Grade 2 brings an end to one of the pipe band world’s most illustrious runs in Grade 1. One of the world’s oldest bands, the Edinburgh City Police enjoyed glorious years of success – including seven World Championships — from 1955 to 1975. Since the 1980s, the band has suffered numerous leadership changes and a dramatic reduction in sponsorship.

In the last month, however, Lothian & Borders Police has gained a new Pipe Major in Colin MacLellan and a new Lead Drummer in Arthur Cook. This and the addition of several fine players to the pipe section are likely to force the RSPBA to reconsider the relegation.

There is considerable speculation that Iain and Gregor Speirs will soon join MacLellan’s new band.

Washington, DC’s City of Washington moves to Grade 1 after many very successful years in Grade 2. Similarly, three years ago the L.A. Scots were promoted to Grade 1 and have made an extremely successful transition.

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Willie McCallum Burns Up London to Finish Outstanding 1999

Published:

London, England – 6 November 1999 – Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, firmly established that he is currently the world’s all-round greatest piper by continuing his remarkable 1999 season by winning both the Bratach Gorm piobaireachd and the Former Winners MSR at the prestigious piping competitions here today.

McCallum adds the two major victories to his list of top prizes this year, which include the Glendiddich Championship, the Open Piobaireachd and Former Winners MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering.

The Bratach Gorm (Blue Banner) is considered to be nearly on the same level of prestige as the Clasp at Inverness or the Open Piobaireachd at Oban. In order to play in the Bratach, a piper must have won a Highland Society of London Gold Medal or the Open Piobaireachd at London.

Second in the Bratach Gorm was Robert Wallace of Glasgow, Scotland, and third was Colin MacLellan, also of Glasgow.

In the other events, Gordon Walker of Cumnock, Scotland, won the Open Piobaireachd, Brian Donaldson of the Scots Guards won the Open Jig, and Michael Grey of Toronto, Ontario, won the Strachan Cup MSR.

A record entry of 87 competitors flooded Glaziers Hall beside the River Thames, and the competitions went on well into the night. Organizers have already stated that the event will be moved next year to a venue with better facilities.

J.B.Robertson March: 1st Gordon Walker, 2nd Andrew Mathieson, 3rd James Murray

Bratach Gorm: 1st Willie McCallum (Lament for Donald Ban), 2nd Robert Wallace, 3rd Colin MacLellan, 4th John Angus Smith, 5th Brian Donaldson

Former Winners MSR: 1st Willie McCallum, 2nd Andrew Mathieson, 3rd Gordon Walker, 4th Brian Donaldson

Open Jig: 1st Brian Donaldson, 2nd Gordon Walker, 3rd Roddy MacLeod, 4th Willie McCallum

Open Piobaireachd (Gillies Cup): 1st Gordon Walker, 2nd Willie McCallum, 3rd Brian Donaldson, 4th Jenny Hazzard, 5th Robert Wallace

MSR (Strachan Cup): 1st Michael Grey, 2nd Jenny Hazzard, 3rd Craig Skedd, 4th Bruce Erskine.

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Sherriff Memorial Will Draw Top Amateur Pipers

Published:

The fourth annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Piping Competition will be held on Saturday, November 20, at McMaster University’s Convocation Hall in Hamilton, Ontario.

The Sherriff is considered by many to be the world’s premier event for amateur pipers.

Fourteen invited pipers have confirmed their attendance: Lynda MacKay, David Duckett, Steven Tripp, Glenn Pocock, Steven Jenkins, and Douglas MacRae (all from Ontario), Alison Dunsire from British Columbia, Bill Weir, Heather Scott, Andrew Douglas, Dekker Forrest, and Mike Kotch from the United States, Keith Petrie from Manitoba, and Sebastien Launcelott from Nova Scotia.

The competition is named in honour of George Sherriff, who lived in Hamilton, Ontario, for many years and taught dozens of young pipers.

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McCallum Takes Overall Prize at Glenfiddich

Published:

Willie McCallum continued his excellent 1999 competition run by taking the overall prize at the annual Glenfiddich Invitational Piping Championship at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, Scotland on October 30.

McCallum won the piobaireachd event and placed second in the MSR to eclipse Angus MacColl of Oban, Scotland, for the coveted award.

Earlier this year, McCallum won both the Senior/Open Piobaireachd and the Former Winners’ MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering.

The results were:

Pioabireachd: 1st Willie McCallum, 2nd Angus MacColl, 3rd Niall Mathieson, Inverness, 4th Roddy MacLeod, Glasgow, 5th Alan Bevan, Vancouver, British Columbia.

MSR: 1st Gordon Walker, Cumnock, 2nd Willie McCallum, 3rd Angus MacColl, 4th Niall Mathieson, 5th Roddy MacLeod.

Also competing at the contest were Clasp winner Robert Wallace, Double Gold Medallist John Cairns, Silver Star Winner James Murray, and 1998 Oban Gold Medallist Stuart Shedden.

Alasdair Gillies was invited to the event, but declined due to a personal commitment.

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Milennium predictions

Published:

[Originally published as an Editorial]

Since this issue of the Piper & Drummer is the last of this century, it’s fitting that we should try to put things into some kind of perspective.

The 20th century, without doubt, was the greatest ever for piping and drumming. Never has so much been achieved for the bagpipe and pipe band drums by so many over the last hundred years.

And we owe almost all of it to technology. Technology has brought pipers and drummers together. Technology has made it possible for piping to thrive world wide. Technology has allowed there to be a world standard of excellence for our instruments. Technology has allowed the Piper & Drummer to be feasible.

Looking back to the 19th century we can see just how far we’ve come. When the great piper D.C. Mather immigrated to Montana at the turn of the century he found himself smack dab in a piping wasteland with hardly a decent piper to found for a thousand miles. A hundred years later even Montana boasts pipers capable of playing a good Loch Carron.” If he were here today

North American Pipe Band Associations Summit Spurs Effort to Work Together

Published: October 31, 1999

A Salt Lake City, Utah, meeting of North American pipe band associations on October 15-17 has resulted in several initiatives for representatives to take to their respective constituencies.

At the meeting there was an agreement in principle on reciprocity between organizations for competition rights and adjudicators, as well as a resolution to ask attending associations to participate in an Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations” (ANAPBA).

A formalized North American approach to control over band and solo grading was agreed upon

MacLellan Elected CPA President

Published:

Perth, Scotland – October 24, 1999 – Colin MacLellan was elected President of the Competing Pipers Association (CPA) here today at the organization’s annual general meeting at the Salutation Hotel.

MacLellan won the election in a close vote against Brian Donaldson of the Scots Guards, and Logan Tannock, of Tillicoultry (near Stirling).

In a somewhat surprising move, Donaldson was elected Vice President, beating Iain Speirs of Edinburgh in another close vote. Louise Hay and Jenny Hazzard were elected Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

Six committee members were also elected: Jimmy McGregor, Brian Mulhearn, Arthur Gillies, Anne Spalding, Duncan Watson, and James Murray.

After the election, a positive discussion ensued on holding major recitals and teaching classes, and there was a proposal to use video as a means of establishing grading of CPA members.

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New Ross Bag Zipped Closure Saves Time and Headaches

Published:

There is little doubt, at least with the majority of pipers outside of the UK, that the Ross Canister Bag from Ross Bagpipe Reeds Ltd. is a dramatic breakthrough in moisture control for the Highland bagpipe. The Ross bag system is a brilliantly conceived mechanism for keeping wetness off reeds, thus improving steadiness.

The biggest drawback of the original Ross Canister bag is the clamp closure at the rear. The bar clamp mechanism is a nightmare to put on quickly, and, once attached, can come loose and blow in mid-performance, as happened to a piper with the Grade 1 St. Lawrence O’Toole band at the World’s this year – literally blowing their chances of getting into the final round.

Geoff Ross of Australia has come up with a solution: a high-tech zipper closure that makes access to the canister device and secure closure quick, simple, and failsafe.

The industrial zip binds the bag shut with an airtight, solid seal. Adjustments to the hoses, drying crystals, and canister can be completed in seconds. Anyone who has tried to secure the previous clamp device immediately before a contest has experienced fumbling hands and an inevitable degree of doubt as to whether the clamp will hold through the performance. Now, the clumsiest monkey could work with the new Ross zipper bag.

In addition to the new bag, Ross has also addressed a few problems with the hoses. First, the attachment to the chanter stock now makes a 90 degree turn, allowing the tube to be free of troublesome kinks, which can disrupt airflow. Second, the tube material itself is thicker and more rigid than the previous material, again alleviating the chance of the hoses folding over.

Of course the new bag and hoses come at premium – about $75 more than the original version. To any serious piper, this one-time charge is a bargain when compared with the accumulated hours of aggravation and risk that the comparatively poorly engineered clamp mechanism brings.

Geoff Ross is quickly establishing himself as the Thomas Edison of the Highland bagpipe. These improvements to the ingenious Ross Canister System are welcome, and take an already excellent product to an even higher level.

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Competing Pipers Association AGM October 24

Published:

The annual general meeting of Scotland’s Competing Pipers Association is to be held in Perth on Sunday, October 24, 1999, and high on the agenda is the election of a new president.

After the sudden death of CPA president Colin Drummond in July of this year, the position has remained vacant.

Purportedly throwing their respective hats into the ring are Colin MacLellan, Logan Tannock and Brian Donaldson, all well known pipers in the organization.

MacLellan, is originally from Edinburgh but lived in Canada for 23 years before returning to Scotland in August of this year, Tannock is from Tillicoultry near Stirling, and Donaldson has been a career Scots Guardsman.

The CPA was started in 1977 as an organization designed to look after the needs of pipers competing in UK competitions. Since then the association has gained worldwide membership, particularly from North American pipers.

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Colin MacLellan Takes Over Lothian & Borders Police

Published:

October 16, 1999 – Colin R. MacLellan will receive two piping appointments on October 18: he will become Pipe Major of the struggling Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band and a full time piping instructor at the Piping Centre in Glasgow.

MacLellan taking on the leadership of the storied Lothian & Borders Police (formerly Edinburgh City Police) comes at a time when the band is struggling for survival in Grade 1 on the RSPBA circuit. The band is thought to be on the verge of relegation to Grade 2 for the 2000 season. MacLellan replaces Willie McBride as Pipe Major.

As reported by the Piper & Drummer earlier this month, the Lothian & Borders Police will also have a new lead drummer, with the return of former World Solo Champion Arthur Cook, who left the Polkemmet Pipe Band, a group also said to be ready for downgrading.

One insider commented, The new combination of Colin MacLellan and Arthur Cooke leading the band will surely make the RSPBA think twice about downgrading Lothian & Borders Police.”

It is believed that professional solo piper Jenny Hazzard

Wicked Tinkers Entertain, But Too Often Struggle to Find Groove

Published:

The Los Angeles, California-based Celtic group Wicked Tinkers comprises Aaron Shaw on Scottish Highland and small pipes, and John MacAdams and Warren Casey playing a variety of drums. Shaw has gained some notoriety as a piper for his work on the soundtracks of Hollywood television and big screen movies, as well as with recording acts like Bonnie Raitt and Forest for the Trees.

The group’s latest effort is It’s Not About Pretty

World’s Recording Again Reveals All

Published:

The annual release of the recordings from the World Pipe Band Championships refocuses attention on the year’s biggest band contest, allowing post-season analysis to carry through the winter and into the next competition season.

For all the ballyhoo about the judging at the 1999 event, it’s important to say at the outset that, overall, the adjudicators performed their primary function just fine: they got the winner right. Going by what can be heard on the CD, Simon Fraser University is a good distance away from the rest of the pack when it comes to tone, unison and ensemble. It’s difficult to understand how any piping judge could have had them anything but first, but, amazingly, one of them managed it. SFU leaves little to quibble with and delivers two consistently solid performances.

The only other band close to SFU in terms of piping tone and unison across both performances is Field Marshal Montgomery, which finished third on the day. FMM’s MSR, in particular, is a case study in technical precision.

There’s plenty of good playing on the recording, with touches of brilliance along the way. ScottishPower demonstrates their ability to present tunes with the finesse of a top solo piper; McNaughton’s Vale of Atholl again stick their collective neck out with a musically adventurous medley; and Shotts & Dykehead comes in strong with their usual crowd-pleasing selection. David Urquhart Travel’s opener, Boxing With Cyclops

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Band Folds

Published:

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Pipe Band of California has been disbanded due to a loss of players after the band took second at the Grade 2 event at the 1999 World Pipe Band Championships on August 14.

Without a local base you can’t play jobs to raise money

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TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: If your pipe chanter reed has been sitting for 2 hours or more, hold the reed between your index and thumb with a slight squeeze to warm the reed up for 20 to 30 seconds before playing. This will reduce the time the reed takes to come into pitch.
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland