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World Pipe Band Championship


The RSPBA World Pipe Band Championship:

The Story So Far... (and EVERY Grade 1 Winner)

1947 was a truly momentous year in the history of The Scottish Pipe Band Association - now the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (R.S.P.B.A.) - it was the year in which the decision was taken to promote the first World Pipe Band Championship Competition. The responsibilities were tremendous and, with little more than their own faith to sustain them, the Committee of the Association proceeded, and by their determination they achieved their purpose despite many difficulties which beset them in the preparatory stages of the event.

The organisation of such an event required the wholehearted support of the Pipe Band fraternity and they responded splendidly both in enthusiasm and in material contribution. The stage was set and the prestigious event rapidly became established within the major national events calendar and, in fact, today it is a very important date in the listings of top international events. The Grand Finale produces a splendid scene of colour and sound when over 2,500 pipers, drummers and Drum Majors salute the Chieftan of the Gathering.

This prestigious event attracts Bands from all over the world each year with bands from Canada, USA, Eire, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands and the United Kingdom all vying with one another, throughout the various grades, to gain World Honours.

It has been said..... "It takes three to make music, one to create, one to perform and one to listen, and who can tell who is the most important'.

There can be little doubt that when Pipers and Drummers first played together it was to satisfy an inward craving for the music and the pleasure of meeting kindred spirits, apart altogether from the ultimate joy of playing well together - intonation, integration and interpretation. Pipers and Drummers who have had the experience of playing in progressive bands are fully aware of the rewarding inward satisfaction obtained from a good band performance and how much more that feeling is enhanced if performed before an appreciative audience. Such audiences are rewarding and assist greatly, though they may not be aware of it, in producing high-rate performances from the bands.

Recalling the quotation from above, the competition arena is surely a natural fourth element in the making of music and the bands are attracted to it like metal to a magnet. The martial nature of the bands fits perfectly into a background which presents them with the opportunity to display their art in a vitally receptive atmosphere. The bands treat competition very seriously indeed and use them as a means of improving their technique in every way. The tuning area at any contest is very much a comprehensive training ground for budding Pipe Majors and Leading Drummers; much practical knowledge can be gleaned in this field by the discerning aspirant, the lesser endowed bands paying close attention to the procedures and methods of the leaders in the hope of emulating them in the course of time.

Competition not only keeps the bands 'up to scratch' but also provides them with an incentive to seek further improvement. Who would venture to forecast the peaks of perfection yet to be attained?

What the Adjudicators are looking for at a Pipe Band Contest.

All of the Pipers sounding in (starting) together in the introduction to the performance and all striking the first note of the initial melody in absolute precision. Good execution, expression, unison and rhythmical flow in each piece with a rich and full tone .

Good, clean, crisp, close, introductory rolls, well punctuated by the Bass and Tenor Drums, and all at the tempo of the ensuing piece. A precision start with the Pipers on the first beat of the tune. The composition of the percussion score to be highly complementary to the melody, displaying good rudimentation and rhythmic sensitivity, the Bass and Tenor Drums being used to good effect. The tempo should be steady throughout each piece, the tone lively and bright and unison of a very high degree.

Good combined 'attack' by both Pipes and Drums. Good balance of instruments in all aspects: chanters to drones, snares to bass and tenors, pipes to drums in toto. Good intonation, good interpretation and good integration of all instruments. All pieces elegantly expressed and played with sparkle. The various rhythms in the medley selections to be meaningfully presented. The tone generally to be free, bright and sonorous.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association maintains a panel of Adjudicators and entry to this panel is achieved by examination and award of certificates of competency by their college. Equivalent standards of competency in this field of music are acceptable in the case of piping and drumming adjudication and experience in other forms of music, possibly allied to pipe band music, is generally acceptable in the case of ensemble adjudication

The Championships require all bands to submit, in the case of the Grade One competition, a Medley Selection of tunes and two sets of March, Strathspey and Reel. The Medley Selection has to be played within a prescribed time limit but the March, Strathspey and Reel set to be played is not known by the band until they come to the starting line.

Adjudication is on a three-point basis in that there are two Adjudicators judging piping skills, a third judging drumming/percussion accompaniment and a fourth member of the team assesses the 'whole' band sound, the ensemble in fact. The points awarded by each of the Adjudicators are then aggregated to produce one final score with, in the case of 'ties', the ensemble score taking precedence.

The construction of the Medley Selection gives the Pipe Major and his Leading Drummer wide-ranging scope in the putting together of tunes with varying tempos and time signatures, from slow airs through to marches, lively jigs, hornpipes and reels. In contrast, the March, Strathspey and Reel set consists of the more serious type of compositions and could be likened to the Symphony in other forms of music.

1947 Bowhill Colliery Edinburgh C. Sutherland
1948 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow T. McAllister,Snr.B.E.M
1949 Glasgow Police Edinburgh J. MacDonald
1950 Edinburgh Police Dundee D.S. Ramsay
1951 Glasgow Police Edinburgh J. MacDonald
1952 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Ayr T. McAllister,Snr.B.E.M.
1953 Clan McRae Edinburgh A. MacLeod
1954 Edinburgh Police Aberdeen D.S. Ramsay
1955 Muirhead & Sons Stirling J. Smith
1956 Muirhead & Sons Belfast J. Smith
1957 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Paisley J.K. MacAllister
1958 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Aberdeen J.K. MacAllister
1959 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Kirkcaldy J.K. MacAllister
1960 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Inverness J.K. MacAllister
1961 Muirhead & Sons Edinburgh J. Smith
1962 227 A &SH Regt.R.A. Belfast J.Weatherston,M.B.E., B.E.M.
1963 Edinburgh Police Dumfries I. McLeod
1964 Edinburgh Police Ayr I. McLeod
1965 Muirhead & Sons Forfar R. Hardie
1966 Muirhead & Sons Inverness R. Hardie
1967 Muirhead & Sons Oban R. Hardie
1968 Muirhead & Sons Grangemouth R. Hardie
1969 Muirhead & Sons Perth R. Hardie
1970 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Aberdeen T. McAllister, Jnr.
1971 Edinburgh Police Lanark I. McLeod
1972 Edinburgh Police Hawick I. McLeod
1973 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Ayr T. McAllister, Jnr.
1974 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Stirling T. McAllister, Jnr.
1975 Edinburgh Police Corby I. McLeod
1976 Strathclyde Police Hawick I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1977 Dysart & Dundonald Aberdeen R. Shepherd
1978 Dysart & Dundonald Lanark R. Shepherd
1979 Strathclyde Police Nottingham I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1980 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow T. McAllister, Jnr.
1981 Strathclyde Police Aberdeen I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1982 Strathclyde Police Glenrothes I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1983 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1984 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1985 Strathclyde Police Hamilton I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1986 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1987 78th Fraser Highlanders Glasgow W. Livingstone
1988 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1989 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1990 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1991 Strathclyde Police Glasgow I. MacLellan, B.E.M.
1992 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R. Parkes
1993 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R. Parkes
1994 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow R. Mathieson
1995 Simon Fraser University Glasgow T. Lee
1996 Simon Fraser University Glasgow T. Lee
1997 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow R. Mathieson
1998 Victoria Police Glasgow Nat Russell
1999 Simon Fraser University Glasgow T. Lee
2000 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow R. Mathieson
2001 Simon Fraser University Glasgow T.Lee
2002 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R.Parkes
2003 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow R.Mathieson
2004 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R. Parkes
2005 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Glasgow R. Mathieson
2006 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R.Parkes
2007 Field Marshal Montgomery Glasgow R.Parkes

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