July 12, 2006


Ever wonder about the two three-paced roll thing? It actually was adapted from military brass bands and, they say, Tom McAllister Sr. made it a standard for pipe bands about 80 years ago. Today, it’s okay for MSRs, if you like that sort of thing, but a bit archaic for medleys.

The RSPBA to my knowledge is the only association that actually has a rule for what bands must play in a medley. Ever since a Grade 1 band started its World’s selection with a waulking song in 1992, there’s been a rule that bands must start with two three-paced rolls, with an E and with a tune in “quickmarch” time.

Every other association in the world just lets bands play whatever they want within the allotted time. No big deal. Go for it.

But it’s those three-paced rolls that get me. Haven’t we progressed beyond that stamped-out predictable start? The drummers are the most creative musicians in the band – they compose pretty much everything they play. So why do they limit themselves to Tom McAllister Sr.’s decree of the 1930s?





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