The world’s bass- and tenor-drummers are rising up in an attempt to persuade the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association to rescind its decision to eliminate Best Bass-Section prizes at major championships in the UK.
Those attending the RSPBA’s March 8th annual general meeting were not aware of any discussion that occurred at the event.Currie’s online petition, entitled “bring back our best bass section awards,” asks visitors to digitally sign their name in support of restoring the awards immediately. The petition also calls for the addition of two new Best Bass-Section awards for the European and British championships, the two RSPBA majors that previously did not offer the prize.
“The players simply wish to present a coordinated case which highlights the level of opposition to the abolition that exists within the membership, seeks an immediate review of the policy change and invites open dialogue between the Association, pipe-majors, leading-drummers and bass-section drummers about moving forward from where we are now,” Currie said. “While the short term decision still baffles and disappoints, everyone supporting the campaign hopes the prizes can return soon, accompanied by a vastly improved set of adjudication criteria that suits the needs of both the Association and the players.”
In addition, the petition requests that the RSPBA’s Music Board “invite consultation with serving bass and tenor drummers over devising and implementing a standardized, transparent and accountable set of adjudication criteria for the presentation of Best Bass Section awards.” It also calls for the association to investigate ways to make bass-sections “a measured component of the pipe band adjudication” by adding a dedicated bass-section judge at championships.The past process for awarding the bass-section prize is not clear to many, whether it is the decision of the drumming judge, the ensemble adjudicator, a combination of the two or an entirely different process is not known and not spelled out in the RSPBA’s rules.
Unlike other pipe band associations, there is no formal rule for awarding the bass-section prize, and it has been only an informal policy or tradition to do so. The discontinuation of the custom was, according to RSPBA Music Board meeting minutes, part of an attempt to reduce the duration of the “march-past” at championships, where as many as 240 bands individually parade onto the park.As the hundreds of bands file in one by one, the six Grade 1 prize-winners from the previous year take turns playing sets of 6/8 marches.
March-pasts at majors can take longer than two hours, and band members – most of whom have just had several drinks at a money-raising beer-tent – are barred from leaving the field.When asked if a boycott might be in order should the prizes not be reintstated, Currie said, “While people are happy to add their names to the campaign, some have suggested a variety of methods of direct action. While I truly understand the level of frustration that exists, I firmly believe boycotting is counter-productive for all parties concerned and encourage dialogue as the way ahead. The whole point of this exercise is not to cause unnecessary disruption to the due process of the Association. Their job is difficult enough. There is a structure of protocols in place defined by the Association’s constitution, which we intend to utilise to present and pursue our proposals.”