January 31, 2004

Fearless predictions for piping and drumming in 2004

Along with our annual New Years Honours, we asked its panel of some twenty expert pipers and drummers for their vision of trends and happenings for the next year.

Because all of our panelists are still active as competitors and/or judges, we agreed that their comments would be kept anonymous.

Opinions are not necessarily ours, and we remind readers that they are strictly for fun. Here are highlights of responses:

  • “The pitch of chanters has to level off. I can’t stand the sound of it getting any higher and the quality is not good up there.”
  • “After placing the last four times in the Gold Medals at Inverness and Oban, Richard Hawke will win one of them.”
  • ‘The 78th Highlanders (Halifax) will get out of the qualifier and into the big show to bring back good medley construction and fine strathspey playing.”
  • “The RSPBA will make few changes to satisfy the growing dissatisfaction with the World’s event.”
  • “The tenor drum madness will expand, with bands appearing on the field with five and six players in the mid-section. Judges will start to be more critical of large, multi-toned mid-sections.”
  • “All competitive Grade 1 bands in Canada will attend the World Pipe Band Championships. They will all be disappointed. 2004 will mark the last year the World’s is viewed by Grade 1 bands as a ‘requirement for existence.'”
  • “Not one true solo piping CD by a single piper will be released in 2004. Recital solo recordings only.”
  • “The Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations will continue to fizzle as associations focus on local concerns, now that basic harmonization has taken place in terms of events and grading issues, the annual summits have become too heavy a drain on association resources for the expected return.”
  • “At least one association (not the RSPBA, though) will announce grading system for judges. Bands will say who they most respect, determining who judges biggest contests.”
  • “After 2004 season, three new Grade 1 bands will emerge in Canada, two from the United States, bringing the North American total to fourteen – eclipsing the number in Scotland.”
  • “2004 will be the last year that CDs will be made and sold by lower grade bands as fundraisers. Market saturation and humility will correct the market.”
  • “Increased pressure to provide entertainment value as audiences for traditional piping and bands continues to thin.”
  • “Pitch will plateau and begin to come down.”
  • “Another Bratach Gorm for Bruce Gandy.”
  • “Serious pipe music books will begin to be published again. 2003 was dead for new quality books after years of ego-stroking dreck coming out. Some collections will be made available online, in a pay-per-tune format.”
  • “Prototype of radical new side drum concept will debut at a manufacturer’s tent at the 2004 World’s”
  • “General trend toward fusion albums will hit pipe bands more and more.”
  • “Trend toward comfort and practicality instead of appearances in Scottish solo contests will increase (i.e., further relaxing of ‘must wear a jacket’ rule).”
  • “Jim Kilpatrick MBE will win fifteenth World Solo Drumming Championship title.”
  • “Internet newsgroups and forums will lose popularity as the novelty continues to wear off.”
  • “Still more bagpipe makers will hit the market. Weird designs and patterns will continue.”
  • “Integrity and quality of international judging will continue to increase.”
  • “Clan Gregor is going to become quite accomplished in Grade 1 and make an impact that no other promoted Grade 2 band has ever done.”
  • “Senior Piobaireachd at Oban: Willie McCallum.”
  • “At least four Grade 1 Pipe-Majors will resign after 2004 season.”
  • “National Piping Centre will announce official affiliate school in eastern Canada.”
  • “Simon Fraser University will win the World’s.”
  • “Citing relatively low audience numbers, BBC will cancel weekly piping show, finally cutting long-threatened program. Strong condemnation from world piping community will bring it back in 2005.”
  • “Drambuie-Kirkliston under Ian Duncan to dominate RSPBA Grade 2, ensuring upgrade after season.”
  • “Competitive pipe band music will continue its musical regression. For the most part, the trend will continue for adventurous pipe band music to come from places outside Grade 1 bands.”
  • “World Champions: Field Marshal Montgomery.”
  • “Alasdair Gillies is honing in on the Glenfiddich Championship again. Fourth or above in the Piobaireachd should get him there next year.”
  • “78ths will win Maxville – the one from Halifax again.”
  • “2004 Solo Piper of Year: Alasdair Gillies.”


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