Piping and Drumming Competitions

The CNY Scottish Games offers five competitive events associated with Highland Piping and Drumming and Bands.  These include solo drumming and piping for all grades except open, band competitions for grades 5 - 3, and the Drum Major competition.  In addition some years the CNYSG hosts bass and tenor drum competitions.

The grading system is structure so the lower the grade the higher the skill expected of the competitor.  The grades are assigned by the sanctioning board, based on performance at competitions, for the east coast that is the Eastern US Pipe Band Association or EUSPBA.  In addition there is a professional grade which is referred to as open class.

The solo drummers have 5 grades and the solo pipers have 5 grades at the CNY Scottish Games.  Competitions for each grade consist of a tune or combinations of tunes in certain time signatures.

Since there may be well over 100 solo competitors the contests start at 8:00 in the morning and continue for 3 or 4 hours.  Each contest takes approximately 5 to 8 minutes and is allocated about 10 minutes.  There are piping and drumming stations scattered throughout the games site.  A map at the competition tent shows where each is located.

Individual Piping
Grade 5 is the entry grade and is performed on the practice chanter rather than the highland pipes  it requires a 2 parted march in quick time in 3/4, 2/4 or 4/4 time

Grade 4 is the next grade up and is divided into junior and senior by age groups.  This requires a 4 parted march in 2/4 time.  There is also a piobreachd contest which is the ancient classical form of bagpipe music.  For grade 4 competitors only play the ground or urlar movement of the piece.

Grade 3 solo competitions offer 3 events, 2/4 March, Strathspey and Reel and piobaireachd.  The Strathspey and Reel are two dance tunes in 2/4 time and the piobaireachd is played in full.

Grade 2 solos have the same set of competitions but for the March and piobareachd, the soloist must submit two tunes to the judge.  The judge will chose one of them for the soloist to compete with.  That is the soloist must be prepare two tunes for the competition.

The Grade 1 is the highest soloist grade offered at the CNY Scottish Games.  Again there are the three contests but for grade 1 the competitor must prepare 3 piobareachd, 2 marches and 2 sets of Strathspey and Reels from which the judge choses one for the competition.

Individual Drumming

There are also 5 grades of solo drumming competitions offered at the CNY Scottish Games starting with drum pad demonstration of the rudimentary movements such as drum rolls and parididdles.
Grade 4 drumming requires a 4 parted quick march, e.g. 2/4, 3/4, 6/8 signatures
Grade 3 drumming 4 parted 2/4 march
Grade 2 and 1 drumming events require 4 parted 2/4 march and a Strathspey and Reel medley.

The band competitions are the highlight of the highland music competition events.  The CNY Scottish Games offers grades 5 through 2 depending on the entries.  There are so few grade 1 bands that we do not have a  competition for that grade.  It is often not possible to bring in a sufficient number of grade 2 bands for a competition. Depending on the grade and the ranking, between $300 and  $600 are paid out in prize money for band competitions.

The form and content of the band competitions is set by EUSPBA and is similar to the other pipe band associations both in the USA and Canada.  There is also a movement to adhere to the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Society  (RSPBA) in headquartered in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Grade 5 is an introductory level created to bring new pipers into the competition activity.  It is often fielded by bands which also have higher grades as a training ground for the more experienced levels.  The competition set here consists of 3 to 5 minutes of 4/4 marches.

Grade 4 is the next grade up.  These competitions alternate between quick march medley sets and tune medley which may consists of any pipe music including quick time and slow marches, and dance tunes such as jigs, reels and strathspeys.

Grade 3 and 2 competitions alternate between March Strathspey and Reel (MSR) sets and medleys similar to grade 4 but more difficult music and settings.

A band competition usually involves between 3 to 5 judges.  For sanctioned events there are typically 2 piping judges, 1 drumming judge and 1 ensemble judge.  There is a circle drawn around the competition area and the judges are not allowed to enter this circle.  If you watch a competition the judges will walk around the band. listening for evenness in tone and playing skills.  The ensemble judge listens concentrates on the musicality of the performance, e.g. tune selection and flow, the interaction of the pipes and drums.http://www.euspba.org/http://www.rspba.org/shapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1