By the left ...
July 04, 2018

By the left . . . A glossary of scoresheet acronyms

By Andrew Berthoff

The age of texting has brought an era of acronyms. Who has the bandwidth or energy to write out common words and phrases? Our time and thumbs are so precious that acronyms have become standard.

You know . . . LOL, OMG, TTFN, LMFAO, and so on.

IDK. We rarely use pen and paper anymore and, when we do, that elegant handwriting that scary Mrs. Adams taught in Third Grade is now illegible. The keyboard has replaced cursive. Our penmanship is appalling.

The only time when I have to write these days is on scoresheets. The handwriting starts okay, but by the third or fourth competitor, cramps set in, atrophied muscles crimp around the pen, and comments look more like the hieroglyphics of a lunatic than readable English.

Handwritten scoresheets aren’t going away any time soon, so it’s about time we standardized acronyms for judges. I mean, there are some feedback-phrases so commonly written, and handwriting so seldom used, that the combined problem is just begging for an obvious solution.

An “adjudicator” (a prolix and wearisome word for “judge”) friend of mine years ago wished that he had a big rubber stamp that he could simply pound on scoresheets: D’S NOT WELL BLOWN.

Back then, texting wasn’t a thing, and acronyms were reserved for IBM, the FBI, the AFL-CIO and the like, so a rubber stamp kind of made sense. But, to be honest, there are so many words and phrases repeated throughout a day of assessing contestants that a judge would need an entire steamer trunk full of rubber stamps, not to mention ink pads.

Great idea, stoopy-doop.

So, short-forms for judges are far more practical. But we need a standardized guide.

Let’s start with acronyms or short-forms for locations in tunes. Judges frequently want to point out exactly where something went amiss, but writing out, say, “second part, bar two of the march” takes far too long. By the time you’ve written that, the band’s on to the jig. So, let’s make that “MP2B3.” There would by JP1B4, or HPP1B2, and so on.

There are plenty of opportunities for positive feedback through acronyms:

  • WA – well away!
  • VGB – very good break.
  • LH – lovely harmonies.
  • CRS – chanters really singing.
  • NUTR – nice uptake to reel.
  • CCO – clean cut-off.

However, those are a bit, um, BRNG.

Apologies in advance for the negative comments (poo-pooed these days), but let’s expand this a bit with a full-blown (FB) glossary:

  • RNT – rolls not together.
  • BA – bad attack.
  • RBA – really bad attack
  • RFBA – really [expletive]ing bad attack.
  • SB – saggy blowing.
  • SBOD – saggy blowing on D.
  • AUEB – are you even blowing?
  • DOOT – drones out of tune.
  • DSLPFWWP – drones sound like Peter Frampton‘s wah-wah peddle.
  • TTITHFY – this tune is too hard for you.
  • TTITHFMTJ – this tune is too hard for me to judge.
  • YAAMBPTIEWSIWNPYF – you are a much better player than I ever was so I will not put you first.
  • PISH – phrasing is suspect here.
  • OPCO – one piper cutting out.
  • TPCO – two pipers cutting out.
  • CTWPSPCO – could the whole pipe section please cut out?
  • BL – blooter.
  • BLS – blooters.
  • ITTNBVL – is this tune named Blooterville?
  • NPT – not playing together.
  • NERPT – not even remotely playing together.
  • ITEAPB – is this even a pipe band?
  • CRAP – corps really a problem.
  • UGLY – unison going like yuck.
  • PBTB – playing behind the beat.
  • PATB – playing ahead of the beat.
  • ITEAB – is there even a beat?
  • I♥TB – I love this bit.
  • I♥WTFE – I loved when this finally ended.
  • MSVW – mid-section voicing well.
  • UTWVMFS – using the word “voicing” makes me feel superior.
  • MSCW – mid-section contributing well.
  • MSRA – mid-section run amok.
  • BDAND – bass drummer adding nice dynamics.
  • IDRKWDM – I don’t really know what “dynamics” means.
  • SIWLITB – sorry, I wasn’t listening in this bit.
  • HUTTV – have you tried the violin?

And, of course,

  • SSPS – stop, stop, please stop.

And so on. You get the picture. There are infinite opportunities for scoresheet acronyms, IMHO, so feel free to include your own in the comments section below.






  1. Thanx for the laugh Andrew, this was well done. I have had the same thoughts lately regarding my score sheets, how my writing is getting worse and what abbreviations should I use and what should I not use. I remember my pop talking about John Wilson’s R-R-R, when asked later he said Rotten, Ridiculous and Rubbish. Another person not named put the big 0 on the sheet as well as another with no acronym just “entire band close to break down” guess you could use EBCBD. Those cast of characters were a little different back then and could get away with that, not so sure today’s soloists or bands would put up with that for long. There certainly are a few things said off the record!

    On a serious note I like the idea of standardized abbreviations among the NA associations. Its hard to write down everything you are hear and want to say, some more than others, trying to keep it legible let alone spelled correctly. I don’t know of any published notes but would be interested in using some more abbreviations/acronyms, please share if you know of a source, proper ones of course.

    Happy 4th of July everyone.




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