Published: January 31, 2005

Our predictions for 2004: how’d we do?

And now for our report-card on our predictions for 2004.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Most would say that band chanter pitch has not gone consistently sharper, although there were a few exceptions. But bands are more consistently setting their sound high.

Prediction: “After placing the last four times in the Gold Medals at Inverness and Oban, Richard Hawke will win one of them.”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen, but Hawke did again get a prize in both events and is definitely chapping at the door, as they say. He has to be considered a favourite for one of them in 2005.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: A bad run in the qualifier sent this band packing.

Prediction: “The RSPBA will make few changes to satisfy the growing dissatisfaction with the World’s event.”
What actually occurred: The RSPBA made few changes to the 2004 event, but has announced that a more international judging panel will be assembled for future World’ses.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: This happened, but “madness” didn’t. There are larger bass-sections than ever and more judging attention being paid to them.

Prediction: “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.'”
What actually occurred: All Canadian Grade 1 bands attended, and one of three United States bands went. L.A. Scots and Prince Charles stayed home in 2004.

Prediction: “Not one true solo piping CD by a single piper will be released in 2004. Recital solo recordings only.”
What actually occurred: Donald MacPherson’s A Living Legend proved this wrong.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Incorrect. ANAPBA continues to be strong, and the RSPBA is listening.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen.

Prediction: “After the 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.”
What actually occurred: Incorrect. No new Grade 1 bands from North America have emerged, but several Grade 2 bands are very close to making the leap.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: This seems to be happening.

Prediction: “Increased pressure to provide entertainment value as audiences for traditional piping and bands continues to thin.”
What actually occurred: This is happening. Organizations around the world are searching for ways to make their product more accessible to non-pipers and drummers.

Prediction: “Pitch will plateau and begin to come down.”
What actually occurred: See above. Many would say that bagpipe pitch for many top-level soloists has come down a shade.

Prediction: “Another Bratach Gorm for Bruce Gandy.”
What actually occurred: Incorrect. Another Canadian, John Cairns, won the event, and Gandy was fourth.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: 2004 saw a resurgence of quality music books, but no substantial online or pay-as-you-go projects came to light.

Prediction: “Prototype of radical new side drum concept will debut at a manufacturer’s tent at the 2004 World’s”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen.

Prediction: “General trend toward fusion albums will hit pipe bands more and more.”
What actually occurred: This continues. The tracks on pipe band CDs that feature just the pipe band often simply don’t hold interest.

Prediction: “Trend toward comfort and practicality instead of appearances in Scottish solo contests will increase (i.e., further relaxing of ‘must wear a jacket’ rule).”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen, although more pipers are wearing waistcoats and not jackets.

Prediction: “Jim Kilpatrick MBE will win fifteenth World Solo Drumming Championship title.”
What actually occurred: Happened.

Prediction: “Internet newsgroups and forums will lose popularity as the novelty continues to wear off.”
What actually occurred: These are just as popular with novice and intermediate-level pipers and drummers, but continue to lose favour with most advanced musicians.

Prediction: “Still more bagpipe makers will hit the market. Weird designs and patterns will continue.”
What actually occurred: Happened. Several new firms were launched in 2004, including Murray Henderson’s Strathmore line.

Prediction: “Integrity and quality of international judging will continue to increase.”
What actually occurred: Complaints about judging seemed to decline in 2004.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Clan Gregor took a prize at an RSPBA in Grade 1, finishing fifth at the European. Boghall & Bathgate did even better in 1980,the band’s first year in Grade 1, by gaining a fourth and a second at championships.

Prediction: “Senior Piobaireachd at Oban: Willie McCallum.”
What actually occurred: Angus MacColl won the Senior at Oban, and McCallum finished third.

Prediction: “At least four Grade 1 Pipe-Majors will resign after 2004 season.”
What actually occurred: Three P-Ms left their posts: Colin MacLellan, Lothian & Borders Police; James Wark, Strathclyde Police; and Scott MacDonald, LA Scots, left mid-way through 2004.

Prediction: “National Piping Centre will announce official affiliate school in eastern Canada.”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen.

Prediction: “Simon Fraser University will win the World’s.”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen. The band finished second, and a judge who placed SFU fourth prevented the band from winning its fifth title.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Didn’t happen, but PlanetPipe.com continues to horn in on the BBC’s audience numbers.

Prediction: “Drambuie-Kirkliston under Ian Duncan to dominate RSPBA Grade 2, ensuring upgrade after season.”
What actually occurred: Sort of happened. Drambuie-Kirkliston had a great first half of the season, and then Balinderry Bridge came in and blew the doors off of every band in Grade 2.

Prediction: “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.”
What actually occurred: Seems to be happening. Many bands continue to get their ideas from Celtic folk and other idioms.

Prediction: “World Champions: Field Marshal Montgomery.”
What actually occurred: Happened.

Prediction: “Alasdair Gillies is horning in on the Glenfiddich Championship again. Fourth or above in the Piobaireachd should get him there next year.”
What actually occurred: Willie McCallum won both Glenfiddich events and his record seventh title at the contest.

Prediction: “78ths will win Maxville – the one from Halifax again.”
What actually occurred: The band didn’t attend the event.

Prediction: “2004 P&D Online Solo Piper of Year: Alasdair Gillies.”
What actually occurred: Willie McCallum copped the award once again.

So, overall, how did we do? By our count, we got 16 of our 34 predictions right for a success rate of 47 per cent. We’ll revisit our 2005 predictions this time next year.

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