Changes to Grade 4 and Novice Juvenile tunes

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Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band. A good outing in the Novice Juvenile A grade.
Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band. Niall Stewart's youngsters had a good outing in the Novice Juvenile A grade.
Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band. A good outing in the Novice Juvenile A grade.
Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band (Novice Juvenile).

The Music Board of the RSPBA has announced more tune choices for lower grade bands competing next season.

The new tunes are three two-part marches, three two-part strathspeys and one four-part strathspey.

Three marches have been added: Coppermill, Corn Rigs are Bonny and the White Cockade. In addition, the two-part strathspeys Cowal Society, Strathconnon and Inverness Fiddler have been added.

Coppermill is a relatively modern tune. It was composed by Canadian piper, Michael Grey and named after the Toronto suburb street where he grew up. Here is a video of Bleary & District opening a medley with the tune in 2016:

The essential requirements for bands in these grades are:

Major championships – Grade 4B and Novice Juvenile B to play four two- parted marches. Grade 4A and Novice Juvenile A to play MSR comprising four parts of each idiom (can be two x two parts of each).

Minor contests – Grade 4 and Novice Juvenile remains as stipulated currently, i.e. 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 minutes in Quick March tempo.

RSPBA logo

A spokesman for the RSPBA said: “These tunes have been carefully chosen to reflect the relative experience and ability of pipers and drummers in that specific grade, presenting them with the opportunity to perform in contests ‘on a level playing field’, as each piece is regarded as having equal ‘weighting’, and this should be borne in mind when making those choices for contest performances.

“Through choosing, and practising, the most appropriate tunes, pipers and drummers should be able to focus on how the music is being performed, instead of thinking about how the technical elements are being handled. All of which has an impact on the ‘ensemble’ assessment, too. The old adage, ‘A simple tune played well is better than a difficult tune played not so well’, still has some relevance today.”

In the United Kingdom, the first pipe band contests of the season are usually at Dunbar, Dundee, Banchory and Ards (in Northern Ireland). The first ‘major’ of 2020 is the British Pipe Band Championships at St James’ Playing Fields, Paisley on May 23.