Pushing the parameters
Back in June I speculated that the traditional pipe band attack might be becoming less important than it used to be. After listening to Grade 1 performances at the 2008 World’s, I’m convinced that it’s true.
Ten years ago bands would set aside large lots of practice time to perfect their attack. Punching the E’s in perfect unison was thought to be critical to success. While just about every band that I’ve heard so far had an audibly okay attack, I don’t think I’ve heard any that, as they say, flattened the grass.
There were also several instances of trailing drones that didn’t seem to impact a band’s result terribly much.
When it comes to competition, most bands will concentrate on the things that they think are most important to success. These days, those things seem to be tone and music. Bands focus on these areas because they feel that excellence in these areas will being the biggest return from the judges, so they invest the most time and effort in them.
The trend and the talk seem more and more toward MSRs being judged with an ear to technical precision, and medleys being less about accuracy and more about the overall musical effect.
Further evidence of that trend is that the musicality of MSRs often seems to be completely ignored. The tenets of excellence that a great solo player strives for aren’t heard much by most bands, and, when they are evident, it seems most judges either don’t recognize them or simply don’t care.
Perhaps it’s time for two sets of parameters – one for medleys; another for sets – to be spelled out to judges in detail.