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Changes to QMM and Medley Competition Categories

posted Jul 28, 2018, 3:39 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jul 28, 2018, 3:48 PM ]

SPBASA's Executive Committee approved earlier this week a series of modifications to the Quick March Medley construct rules.  The rules now list three alternative QMM competition categories:
  • Quick March Medley - simple time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, etc.)
  • Quick March Medley - compound time signatures (6/8, 9/8, 12/8, etc.)
  • Quick March Medley - freestyle time signatures (any combination of March time signatures)
In all of the above cases, the QMMs are now limited to eight parts (vs. the min and max chronometer limits used in the past).  Future QMM competitions will need to specify which of the above categories will be used.  SPBASA is now also recommending (not requiring) the use of the RSPBA's prescribed list of marches (currently two-parted and four-parted 2/4 marches).

This is in addition to a clause approved in March for the Medley competition category, which establishes a minimum of four tune types.  This clause avoids confusion with the March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) competition categories.

Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band continued to raise the bar with the G7!

posted Dec 9, 2017, 9:59 PM by Michael Flight

The 7th South American Pipe Band Gathering, an exceptional record-breaking four-day event in Santiago, Chile, was pioneering for having included a solo piping competition at a Gathering, but especially for hosting the first ever solo drumming competition in the Continent!

We also had the largest number of pipe bands so far represented at a Gathering, including:
  • 11th Fire Company (Chile)
  • Bariloche Highlanders (Argentina)
  • South American Piping Association (Argentina)
  • Sacramento Pipe Band
    • St. Andrew’s Society of São Paulo (Brazil)
    • Riverside Pipe Band (Uruguay)
  • Banda Brasil Caledonia (Brazil)
  • St. Andrew’s Society of the River Plate (Argentina)
  • Brazilian Piper (Brazil)
  • Eagle School (Chile)
  • Mendoza Highlanders (Argentina)
  • Southern Winds (Chile)
  • Wolney Highlanders (Brazil)
  • Santiago Metropolitan (Chile)

First Solo Drumming Competition
Photo: Jeannine Facht

The G7 offered workshops with each pipe band corps, an invaluable exposure and hands-on learning opportunity at the individual level and for the pipe band corps.  This instructional approach was in fact first adopted in Santiago de Chile, at the G3 ten years prior.  The 2017 Gathering also included the first Adjudication workshop, attended by band leaders to have a deeper insight of the pipe band competition genre; and also a step in the direction towards eventually having local adjudicators.

The Adjudicators (and workshop instructors) were:

The Concert and Cocktails evening included a concert where the P/Ms and D/Ss of each band player a few sets together, followed by and impromptu concert by the adjudicators that brought down the house!

Adjudicator's Concert (L-R: Craig Munro, Susan Nase, Tyler Fry)
Photo: Jeannine Facht

This was the first Gathering after SPBASA approved a registration clause allowing pipe bands to compete with non-South-American guests within their ranks.  The intent of this new rule is to accelerate the bands’ exposure to overseas players, as compared to workshops every two years at a Gathering.  SAPA made the most of this by inviting Duncan Millar (snare drummer from the six-time World Champion, Simon Fraser University Pipe Band), who worked with SAPA’s drum corps for months prior to the G7.

SAPA's Drum Corps - Photo: Jeannine Facht

This Gathering hosted the Continent’s 4th pipe band competition, where bands competed in the Quick March Medley, Medley and Dance Corps categories.  Congratulations SAPA for winning the SPBASA Cup and the Dance Corps Competition both for a second consecutive time!  See also the Results page.  Bands also annexed to the competitions a general-audience free-style show, which is what our bands play mostly in their home towns.  Brazilian Piper (a social-project band from the State of Rio de Janeiro) stole the show with intricate drill, samba music and dances!

G7 pipe bands - Photo: Jeannine Facht

The G7 was unofficially closed with a Ceilidh/dinner at the Doce Trece pub/brewer in Providencia (a suburb of Santiago), and officially closed on Sunday Nov-26 after the Massed Bands Parade in the Las Condes district, and playing at the Parque Araucano with the Chilean Air Force Symphonic Orchestra and the Asturian Gaitas Ximielgu band.  Great thanks to the Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band for such a great Gathering!

We are all looking forward to the 8th South American Pipe Band Gathering, to be hosted in the city of Bariloche (host pipe band: Bariloche Highlanders), with the incredibly scenic backdrop of the Andes, lakes and forests!

Bariloche - Photo: Jose Cande

G7 on its way!

posted Jan 11, 2017, 9:56 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jan 12, 2017, 5:57 AM ]

The 7th South American Pipe Band Gathering will be 
held on November 24-26, 2017 and hosted in Santiago de Chile by the Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band.  This is the first Gathering to close the South American circuit of host cities (the G3 was also hosted in Santiago, in 2007).

With still 11 months to go, the organization is well on schedule having already defined all of the following:
  • Instructors/Adjudicators:
  • Competition Categories (*)
  • Venue: Prince of Wales Country Club
  • Massed Bands Venue: Parque Forestal
  • Preferred lodging: Time Suite Apartments
  • Pipe bands confirmed to date:
    • Argentina
      • Bariloche Highlanders Pipe Band
      • Highland Thistle Pipe Band
      • South American Piping Association (SAPA)
      • St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate Pipe Band
    • Brazil
      • Banda Brasil Caledonia
      • Sao Paulo Scots Pipe Band
      • St. Andrew's Society of Sao Paulo Pipes and Drums
      • Wolney Highlanders Pipe Band
    • Chile
      • 11th Fire Company Pipe Band
      • Lord Cochrane Pipe Band
      • Santiago Metropolitan Pipe Band
(*) at the time of this article, the SMPB is also considering solo piping, drumming and dancing competitions, more details to follow in the near future.

Further details and announcements will be posted on the G7's Facebook Event page.

More info: Gathering Fixture.

Non-South-American Guest Players/Instructors for Pipe Bands

posted Mar 23, 2016, 10:22 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 10:24 PM ]

SPBASA's Executive Committee approved a new competition clause that allows foreign players to compete as guests within South American pipe bands.  There are two sides to this new clause:
  • what happens before the gathering/competitionHaving overseas "non-South-American" pipers, drummers and dancers as part of the pipe band practices and prep work for the Gatherings is a great opportunity to learn from experienced players.  SPBASA is ultimately encouraging pipe bands to expand their knowledge at a higher exposure rate than our current 1-hour-every-2-years at the Gathering workshops.
  • what happens during the competition itself: SPBASA is likewise trying to allow these guest players/instructors to compete as part of the band, yet not make a noticeable difference in the band's competition results (as compared to if these guests had not been competing with the band).  This ensures that bands continue to be on "fair-grounds" in the competition arena.
SPBASA is looking forward to seeing this clause enable all bands to accelerate their learning path and their exposure to top players and dancers.

G6, a unique Gathering

posted Oct 24, 2015, 5:09 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Oct 24, 2015, 5:11 PM ]

After two years in the making, the 6th South American Pipe Band Gathering concluded on October 18th with the departing of the 200 performers back to the five countries represented at the event.  This Gathering was the first to be hosted in Brazil, thus finishing the first time round the circuit of the current members' countries.  Though the Gathering officially started on Oct-15 with the local bands' workshops, some bands had their workshops the weekend prior in Rio do Janeiro.

This Gathering's guest performers and competition adjudicators were:
The G6 had a record number of eleven participating bands, including four bands participating for the first time at a South American Pipe Band Gathering.

In addition to the Quick March Medley category, the bands also competed in two categories for the first time (category results):
  • Dance Corps
  • Medley
Two additional SPBASA prizes were added this year (overall results):
  • The Pipe Major Robert Dunsmore Ross Shield, for the best overall pipe corps
  • The Joseph G Noble Shield, for the best overall drum corps
A memorable feature was the massed bands playing and dancing Asa Branca (a traditional Brazilian song, adapted to the Highland Bagpipes) with an escola do samba at the Ibirapuera Park's central esplanade (see photo below).

The South American Pipe Band Gatherings are huge camaraderie, knowledge sharing and learning experiences; and are key to the SPBASA's mission.  As was the case of the G6 kicking off it's organization at the G5, the 2017 G7's organization was likewise officially kicked-off at the G6 (more details to be communicated soon).

The Association and all the participating bands thank the Brazil Caledonia Pipe Band for hosting this wonderful Gathering and we are all looking forward to the G7!

Michael Flight elected as SPBASA's President

posted Oct 14, 2015, 7:21 AM by Brian Gibson   [ updated Jan 1, 2016, 12:18 PM by Michael Flight ]

Following the Sep-29 reorganization, SPBASA's Executive Committee elected Michael Flight as the first President of the Association. Michael has been involved with SPBASA since it's conception in the mid 1990s, and the official founding in 2004. While representing the St. Andrew's Society of the River Plate Pipe Band, Michael has designed and promoted multiple projects and improvements, and has represented the Association in the international arena.

Michael started his pipe band experience in the late 1980s as a tenor drummer, and as a piper since 1988. He also was Pipe Major of the SASRP Pipe Band, and guest piper in several pipe bands in the region. Michael also has multiple years of overseas training and pipe band experience. Click here for more details.

Photo credit: Jeannine Facht

SPBASA's Management Reorganized

posted Oct 3, 2015, 2:11 PM by Michael Flight

Last September 29th, SPBASA's Executive Committee agreed to a reorganized management style, opening new Officers positions, as well as redefining and detailing the President's role.  The driver for these changes is to have a more effective approach to SPBASA's progress and future advancements, and to ensure long term continuity of the organization.

The resulting Management sections are listed following:
Clip art source.

The Pipers' Trail - Calling all pipers and drummers!

posted Aug 17, 2015, 11:21 AM by Michael Flight   [ updated Aug 17, 2015, 11:40 AM ]

“To Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile entrance, as fast and as close as we can get to it, please” is what I asked the taxi driver on Saturday, followed by a yet another feeling of disbelief of what I had been living throughout these past days in what can only be described as a magical weekend.

Promptly after representing the Scottish Pipe Band Association of South America at the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s International Conference (link to RSPBA's article), I headed from Glasgow to Edinburgh to meet with the four pipers from South America playing at the 2015 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, as part of The Pipers’ Trail (link to SPBASA's article).

Being privileged with chatting with the Tattoo’s Music Director Major Steven G Small in non-public areas of Edinburgh Castle, and seeing the Tattoo live from several angles and on multiple evenings were only highlights compared to learning about the vision of The Pipers’ Trail organization, directly from those who have conceived it and have cherished its growth to the phenomenon it is at present. 

On the surface, The Pipers’ Trail may appear to be simply a pipe band that plays at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Though that alone is a dream come true for many generations of pipers and drummers, The Pipers’ Trail is in fact a growing worldwide network of pipe band performers. Seen from a broader vantage point, The Pipers’ Trail is at the core of the Tattoo’s construct of multiple nations (many of which share conflicting pasts) peacefully dialoguing in the language of music and other performing arts.

Yet seen through another pair of lenses, The Pipers’ Trail is in fact a relatively new avenue for pipers and drummers to explore in their music careers. In a potential single-aspiration context of winning the World Pipe Band Championships, The Pipers’ Trail opens an entirely new door for pipers and drummers to consider playing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and to excelling in a high-demanding show-driven pipe band genre. Especially for pipers and drummers from South America, The Pipers’ Trail has proven to be a perfect match given the more than 60 years of pipe band show legacy (compared to only recent incorporation of competitions in the region).

It was also brought to my attention that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is in fact reproduced in multiple cities, Basel, Moscow and Sydney included. Reinforcing the multi-nation message, the near-future plan is to include The Pipers’ Trail as part of these tours. Brigadier David Alffrey, the producer of the Tattoo and conceiver of The Pipers’ Trail, both expressed his sincere interest in offering The Pipers’ Trail network as a means to support pipers and drummers (and related events) across the Globe, and also shared his vision of someday taking the Tattoo to South America.

The Pipers’ Trail starts its recruiting process in the early months of the year, and I firmly encourage every piper and drummer to consider applying for such an enriching experience and to become part of this international network. The SPBASA will be once again promoting the recruiting process, as soon as we are informed of its kick-off.

SPBASA Members at the 2015 Edinburgh Tattoo, appointed P/M from Argentina!

posted Aug 2, 2015, 4:47 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Aug 2, 2015, 4:55 PM ]

An unprecedented accomplishment in South American pipebanding will become a reality this August when the following four pipers perform at what is nicknamed as The Greatest Show On Earth, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo!
The above pipers will be part of The Pipers' Trail, and ad hoc pipe band formed yearly that has been steadily growing since it's first edition in 2008.  With members recruited throughout the entire World, Brian Gibson was today officially appointed as Pipe Major of this year's edition of the Pipers' Trail.

After a rigorous selection process throughout the early months of the year, this month in Edinburgh has started with a week of practices, tuning and drilling at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, followed by shows almost every evening, and closing on August 29th.

This process started in January when SPBASA was represented at the 2015 ANAPBA Summit (an event typically oriented to pipe band competition topics), also attended by Brigadier David Allfrey, MBE, the Executive Producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  Brigadier Allfrey opened his presentation by stating that he had come "from the Dark Side", referring ironically to the show-biz side of piping and drumming.  He was in fact at that time recruiting pipers and drummers to be part of 2015's edition of The Pipers' Trail, or to attend as full bands.  SPBASA members' long history and bias towards the entertainment side of pipebanding (Highland/National dancing included) resulted in a great fit for this proposal.

It is with great pride that we wish Brian, Brian, Patricia and Gonzalo all the best at this historic event, and special congratulations to Brian Gibson for taking the additional responsibility of preparing and leading this band onto the Esplanade!

The Tattoo's grand finale, at the Edinburgh Castle's Esplanade.  Photo source

Revised Dance Corps competition rules approved

posted May 17, 2015, 9:18 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated May 17, 2015, 9:18 PM ]

SPBASA's Executive Committee approved on Friday a revised set of rules applicable to Dance Corps competitions, see the details listed below.  These new rules will be applied for the first time at the 6th South American Pipe Band Gathering (Sao Paulo, Brazil, October 17, 2015).

Highland Thistle Pipe Band dance corps at the G4

May 15 2015 approved clauses applicable to the Dance Corps competition:
  • Rename this category to "Dance Corps".  This allows for a dance corps not associated to a pipe band to compete likewise (with the assistance of a pipe band, per the requirements for this competition category).
  • Definitions > Pipe Band Dance Corps (renamed to "Dance Corps")
    • Definition: "A dance corps shall consist of not less than four performing members" (same as past definition, but deleting "pipe band")
  • Events > General > Dress Code
    • Sporran (optional for dancers)
    • Shoes, gillie brogues, or dance pumps.
  • Competition Categories> Pipe Band with Dance Corps: (renamed to "Dance Corps")
    • Corps minimum size: in accordance with the definition of a Dance Corps.
    • Dances and/or choreography: based on Highland Dancing or National Dancing (not Country Dancing).
    • Performance duration: at least 2 minutes.
    • Music source: live standard-size pipe band.
    • Music types: Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, Jigs
    • Order of play:
      • Same order as for pipe bands.
      • A dance corp that is not associated to a pipe band should be drawn as if it were a pipe band.
    • Dress code:
      • per Events > General > Dress Code
      • jewelry, accessories and medals are not to be worn.
  • Adjudication > Number of Adjudicators:
    • Pipe Band with dancing Dance Corps: 1 dancing
  • Adjudication Aspects > Pipe Band with Dance Corps: (renamed to "Dance Corps")
    • Execution:
      • Timing and ensemble: dancers must place feet, arms and head in precise positions in accordance with the music (a tempo)
      • Technique and rudiments: dancers' footwork and the coordination of head, arms and hands.
      • Synchronization: the dance corps's precision of movement in unison, one with the other as a team, and the accuracy of the figures.
    • Artistic impression:
      • General deportment: dancers' ability to capture the spirit and motif of the dance, and the use of the music's structure
      • Choreographythe creative skill of composing a routine that combines artistic and technical elements.
    • Pipe band: not adjudicated in this competition category
    • NotesThe adjudication shall commence with the first beat of the first bar, and shall cease on the last beat of the last bar of the dance.
  • Paperwork > Corps/Quartet/Band registration:
    • 1st paragraph: "No person shall be allowed to compete in a Drum Corps, Pipe Quartet, Pipe Band or Dance Corps if not registered therein."
    • 3rd paragraph:
      • "Performers may be registered per event in at the most one Drum Corps, one Pipe Quartet, one Pipe Band and one Dance Corps [...]"
      • "Dancers are allowed per event to also compete at the most in one Drum Corps, one Pipe Quartet, and one Pipe Band (as a piper or drummer), in accordance with the applicable rules and exceptions for those categories"

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