Pipe Bands and youtube

July 7, 2009 on 10:31 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Pipe Bands and youtube

Last Saturday I had a brief conversation with a well-known judge about pipe bands and the internet. We both agreed that the internet – and youtube.com in particular – is changing the way pipe bands are perceived. And its not just the punter’s perception but also that of judges and how they view a band’s capability. It’s a remarkable thing.

A band keen to be heard (read that as a euphemism for “to be seriously considered for a prize”) had better have their shit together on the competition field at any event before a major. We know the current drill: 1 – punter lines up camera and mic on contest field [wouldn’t it be great to have to say “contest stage’!] 2 – band competes, punter records 3 – within hours the recording is posted on youtube (and copyright is broken all over the place – that’s for another day) 4 – anonymous internet pronouncements cast judgement, on the band’s performance and the capability and integrity of the judges.

The role of pipe band judge is a hard one to fill. It’s probably made that bit more difficult in the context of youtube-generated chatter and the resulting “buzz”. Woe betide the judge who overlooked the side of the band that was recorded and the blooter-fest that filled that corner of the field: it’s a good old-fashioned internet head-offing for that guy. Conversely, the pipe band that comes off less-than-fantastic is relegated to a 1000 more hours in the practice hall – or worse.

As an experienced judge I know that in the context of fair band assessment its incredibly important to take into account where one stands to listen. One person just can’t take in the mechanics and inner-workings of the whole performance at any one time. Yes, the overall effect can be assessed from one stance, but only in the context of that perch. For instance, the overall effect of a band might be assessed from the “top” of the circle (to the percussionist: “heavy on pipes”) or, perhaps from the bottom of circle (to the piper: “heavy on drums”).

I suppose this is all to say, if we’re using youtube recordings as our guide, and interested in making accurate assessments of a band’s performance (or judge’s assessment) we need to be mindful of the accuracy of youtube-like recordings. The quality and limited range of many amateur recording tools and the serious sound compression that occurs with youtube uploading are only two considerations.

Anyway, fat chance dodgy internet recordings will ever temper the pipe band fanatic’s need to sit in his wired garret and anonymously sound off.

It is an interesting phenomenon, though, isn’t it.


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