May 31, 2007

UK Championships season starts Saturday at Dumbarton

The first major pipe band contest of the 2007 RSPBA season is the Scottish Pipe Band Championships at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton, Scotland, on Saturday, May 19. Fourteen bands are entered in the Grade 1 MSR contest, two more than in 2006 when the Grade 1 entry was at its smallest in decades.

Field Marshal Montgomery won the 2006 Scottish Championship.

The year’s first major is usually fraught with questions stemming from developments over the off-season, and this year is no exception. Among other queries, piping and drumming enthusiasts around the world will be looking for answers to:

  • Will the Strathclyde Police continue its upward momentum and lock a consistent spot in a new top three?
  • Will St. Laurence O’Toole’s new all-cane and sheepskin outfitted pipe section produce results similar to what the band experienced last Saturday at Malahide?
  • Will the Lothian & Borders Police return to a good Grade 1 standard with the addition of new Pipe-Major Davie Barnes and a completely revamped and bigger pipe-section?
  • How will Field Marshal Montgomery fare with its new Premier drums?
  • How will the Tayside Police do fresh out of Grade 2?
  • Will the RSPBA abide by a 2005 court ruling and compensate performers for the DVDs and recordings made of the Scottish and other championships?
  • Will 2007 be the year that judges start clamping down on large and active mid-sections, or will the trend continue?
  • Will Torphichen & Bathgate realize expectations and dominate Grade 2 in 2007?

The Dumbarton weather forecast for the day is cloudy with showers and a high of 14°.

As usual, pipes|drums plans to have Grade 1 results from the Scottish posted in sync with their being announced on the field, expected around 1:30 pm EDT.


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  1. While I don’t, necessarily, believe in the notion of the sizes of bands (or individual sections) being restricted. in terms of regulation by pipe band associations, I do think that there needs to be some serious thought given to the benefits/detractions of larger bands. I think that there is a point at which a band can be too large, and when it becomes obvious that a band is playing too many pipers, snares, tenors, what have you, then that band should seriously consider what that is doing to our art. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to get bands to accept this, because it is very easy to write of what a judge says, if you don’t agree with what he/she is saying about your band – oh

  2. In relation to the statement that G Brown comments on I would like to add that in this modern day and age of breaking new barriers and pushings ideas to be the best in all areas of pipe bands not just mid-sections and with this website you would expect that train of thought to be embraced and celebrated that bands are trying to express their music in the most positive ways, clamping down” anything in pipe bands is a very negative attitude to have. Clamping down serious conflicts of interest in the judicial circles would maybe be one exception to that rule but it’s a subject that sites like this fail to push for answers with the powers that be. Very disapointing and negative statement by

  3. It was a question, not a statement. A lot of people are wondering if the mid-section phenomenon will continue to build, level off, or decline. What’s the big deal? Many people still get nervous when reasonable questions are asked. If you want comment and questions on conflict of interest in judging, all you have to do is search the archive. We’ve been pounding that issue for two decades.

  4. Andrew’s question is phrased in such a way that it does not ascribe value to one side or the other of this debate – yes folks, debate. There are individuals who come at the issue regarding the evolution (and really, that is what it has been) of mid-sections, from a number of interesting and valid perspectives. While I didn’t, necessarily, agree with him, I thought that Jimmy Hutton brought forward a number of legitimate points; the responses, both in support of and against his assertion, were equally educational. None of us are ever going to agree full-bore, but discussion – rational, premeditated and thoughtful – will be far more beneficial than any sort of personally-levelled attack. I don’t mean to be rude, but it seems as though some of the greatest proponents of the mid-section act in a manner consistent with some long-oppressed ethnic groups; they have become so used to discrimination and opression, that they often respond negatively to any commentary about them, regardless of how it pertains to their current position. This sort of ‘for us or against us’ mentality does not help to engender positive sentiments from individuals who are looking in on this debate. Furthermore, it poisons individuals who are unsure, or ‘sitting on the fence,’ against the valid position that is being developed for mid-sections, as part of a whole-band, ensemble-based approach. I don’t think Andrew is out to get mid-sections. If he was, he could certainly use this medium in a much more vitriolic fashion. As I said, it was a question. I don’t think that anyone believes that a band is ever going to march out with par-numbers of pipers and tenor drummers. As such, it is a valid question – there is a point at which the size of mid-sections will have to ‘taper off.’ The question I would ask instead, however, would relate to whether this is something we want regulated by pipe band organizations, or instead, by the bands themselves?

  5. The point I was trying to make with my post was why should a mid/bass section be clamped down ? Why shouldn’t we clamp down on the ever increasing numbers in the pipe/snare secton or focus our attentions to more important and less positive actions of others within the pipe band circles. The day a band turns out with 40 pipers, 15 snare drummers, 9 tenors and 3 bass drums will arrive and as long as it’s pure entertainment then I will welcome that day with open arms, what I dont welcome is when that band are beaten simply because a relation of another band is judging that day, we know this happens but decide it’s better to highlight and suggest clamping down on numbers is an issue. Here’s to entertaining pipe band music whatever the numbers.

  6. Good addition, Mrs., and that makes your point clearer. I absolutely agree: it will be interesting to see whether ever-larger pipe sections are negatively or positively judged, or if they make no difference to the result. There’s also the question as to whether larger pipe sections and snare lines are pushing the size of mid-sections. It seems reasonable to think that each will accommodate the other, if the ensemble balance is to be maintained. But maybe not. Great debate!

  7. One further point I would like to add to this subject and this is one I don’t think anybody realises. A band going from 15 pipers to 30 will mean an obvious increase in volume. A band going from 5 snares to 10 will mean an obvious increase in volume. Now this is where that theory changes. A band going from 3 tenors to 6 will only mean an increase in volume if each player strikes their drum harder than previously, its the only section that can play 9 tenors and still have the same volume than playing with even one, its up the each player to control their weight with the strike, what it does give is the full range of notes on the chanter to be able to enhance a bands ensemble and try and deliver a better product to the judging panel which tonaly should be pleasing to the ear and also played with enough light and shade which compliments the snare drummings exprssion of the music. They can and do also express what is being produced musically in a visual way too but thats another subject altogether, thats the part thats wasted on all the judges on our circuit. I feel they fail to respect the visual expression of a performance. It’s ok, i’m finished now!



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