Adjudication at the All England Masters

iggmeister

Member
Seems like it's three in a box this year, (had confirmation through in the post yesterday).

However, there was no breakdown of the voting and, whilst I may be wrong on this (if so, sorry), but the letter reads as if the majority of bands voted retain 3 separate boxes.

Like I said before, I feel sorry for the organisers. Their good intentions have arguably brought about this problem but the openness and the opportunity for competing bands to influence how the contest is run seems to be one of the appealing factors to competing bands.

Seems the adjudicators have more of a say in how contests are run these days...... ( :twisted: :wink: )

Igg
 

MRSH

Supporting Member
I'm having difficulty getting my head around this.

If a contest is run with a particular adjudication system in force, voted for by the competing bands and accepted by the organisers who do the adjudicators think they are by refusing to abide by that system? Fair enough turn down the invitation to adjudicate and the organisers can then approach the next names on the list until they find someone who is willing to adjudicate by the already accepted system. Bearing in mind, presumably, they are getting paid by the organisers and, therefore, an employee of the organisers I think it's a disgrace that they are being allowed to dictate in such a manner.

Just my point of view.
 

Darth_Tuba

Active Member
I'm a bit disappointed at this. If the bands have voted for it, then the adjudicators shouldn't go changing it! What if they disagreed with the band's test piece choice? Would they go changing that? What if they disagreed with the number of bands? Why are they so frightened of being perceived to have "got it wrong"?
 

johnflugel

Active Member
My personal view is that the three box system is good in theory but as someone has mentioned, judging music (and bands in particular) is not an exact science. I believe we shouldn't judge bands on the basis of average markings statistics. That is not to take anything away from the bands who have won on this system, before I get pummelled by previous winners! :lol:

If three individuals are to be asked to use their 'expertise' and judge a competition, then we should trust them to be able to discuss and form a general opinion on the placings. I would think that is something along the lines of what the adjudicators in question are hinting at :?:

Regardless of the which system is in place, someone will always be in disagreement.

Personally,I would prefer to see a new set of judges filtering through, it would be interesting to see a percentage of time David Read, Bill Relton etc have judged our top section.

John
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
I'm afraid I shall have to buck the trend and side with the "three good men and true" on this occasion. If they are not comfortable with the proposed system they have every right to withdraw. I agree that it is arguable whether they should have agreed to be short-listed in the first place, but without knowing all the ins and outs of the sequence of events it is hard to judge.

Maybe the organisers should have sounded out a range of adjudicators initially, and only presented the bands with a list of those willing to abide with the current system.
 

Tack7

Member
If they need to discuss it with someone else, they shouldnt be adjudicatin. They are meant to be good adjudicators, so why ask the others what they thought. Make your own minds up Adjudicators!

Simon
 

edward_allen

New Member
I think this is an absurd situation.

There is only one reason why the judges would refuse to sit separately: they are afraid of looking stupid.

The organisers might as well select the most dominant personality of the three and have him adjudicate the contest on his own (that will be the net result anyway).

I'm pretty certain the bands wouldn't have voted for this and my recommendation to the organisers (who, until now, have always done well) would be to keep going down their list of adjudicators until they find three with the confidence to back their own judgment. Oh and, if possible, they should have a combined age of less than 200.

What a shambles.
 

midwalesman

Member
Adjudicator

I heard about this, I saw the Masters letter back to the bands...and.....I stood there wondering what exactly was going on. Everyone who knows music, whether old, young or basically on the verge of becoming insane, knows that all music is subjective or objective, whatever the true terminology is. One person's winner could be the next person's second place! Whats the problem, you live by the sword you die by the sword, its part of the game we call contesting.
As I 've said on here before on an adjudicator contest thread, if players have the proverbial knackers to play on stage and play with conviction along the lines of the conductors interpretation then surely the adjudicators can have the conviction and belief in their own musical opinions. Each individual has a different musical background, environment, as all players do and surely all they can do is percieve the musical performance in front of them on their own experiences and abilities. I think its absolutely pathetic that people who have such experience cannot think as individuals and rely on their own opinions, relying instead on a group theory. Who is to say that peer pressure does not happen in the box. If a person in a singular adjudication box disagrees totally with the other too he should have courage in his own abilities and not let the pressures of others affect their judgement.
Are those in the box men or sheep, its time that they stood up to be counted and not look over their shoulders at what other people say. Referees in football get blasted by the press all the time but their unique individual opinions can be decisive, like these footie refs, these adjudicators get paid. Probably they dont get paid as much admittedly, but all they have to do is have convictions in their own beliefs, how hard can that be.

If they havent got the self belief or conviction in their own abilities, as individuals, what are they doing in the box in the first place. It's time to have new blood in the box. People who are not just banders, but musicians. John Wallace etc, may in the past have marked my band down in their performances but at the end of the day they have a different perspective than those who have been in the box for every national final for the last 6 or 7 years. In the past adjudicators were picked from various backgrounds to sit in the box, i.e Salvation Army musician, Army musician and former player or composer or conductor. Where has that gone now ? Bands voted for the same people so the blame is partially theirs. More musicians from outside banding should be approached, or if a piece is commissioned then the composer, and only the composer should be the adjudicator. After all, he is the one who wrote the piece, heard the piece in his head and knows what he is looking for. Guidlines are fine but the actual knowing of a contemporary commission can only be truely made by the person who's unique vision it represents.

I find all this both amusing and sad! Its time that they put their privates on the line like the rest of us. Time to stand up and say ...this is how I heard it, if two others thought different its their opinion, my results refelct how I heard the contest.

Rant well and truly over!
 

SteveT

Member
Three good men / women and true.

It is with trepidation that I enter the affray here, but I have read this thread and can't help thinking, here we go again. It is as if the current generation of players believed that this issue was new, well it isn't!

The men chosen for the job at the masters are probably the most experienced Adjudicators at this level. I don't think I have met three men who are less "pompous" than they are. However, they do have the right to ask that they are able to do the job in what their experience tells them is the most effective way!

I would bring your attention to the normal method for judging music competitions. This would normally be a panel of judges in the open who after all the perfomances would go into a room and talk about the merits of each performance. My point is that consultation in musical performance adjudication is the norm, not the exception. It is only in the "Sport Like" competitive world of the brass band that anacronysms continue to be the norm. Bands don't trust anyone and when they don't win they "were robbed". Why isn't it like this in choral competitions for example, where the competitiors actually cheer each other on! Asking for bands to vote for a system they would prefer is a cop out in my opinion. If you are asking someone to judge an important contest, ask him/her what conditions would be the most condusive to allowing them to be comfortable and focussed. Also, consultation IS valid in this important contest!

Finally can I caution people on some rather intemprate comments within this thread. Keep it constructive and informed, don't jump to conclusions and check out your facts before you commit comments to the net. But most of all "Be Fair"!
 

midwalesman

Member
Apologies

With hindshight, perhaps I was too harsh with my words on the "poor old adjudicators" and any intemprate comments I may have made. Good thats over with, now on to what Mr Tighe has said.

I agree with the comparison with the choral tradition, and also that other musical competitions have open adjudication and they quite obviously discuss performances. In my personal experience as I was growing up with the Eisteddfod tradition in Wales, both at School and at National level, the adjudicators, usually two, were in the open, discussed all performances and there was little complaining after, well except that Harps and strings always tended to win! Unfortunately as you stated there aren't people trusting enough in the banding to attempt such an open adjudication method. with any system there will be suspicion because contests will always have winners and losers, and those that agree and those that disagree. I have at times heard other bands who have subsequently beat us or heard another band that was terrific only to be placed low down in the results. I usually look and analyse the score to see where my part fits in, what happens around my part, who plays where etc, even read the abstract at the beginning. I also listen to previous recordings of the piece (if available!) to get a general idea. As part of my course this is probably a requirement and I do it seriously, such as understanding what the Tristan theme was in Tristan Encounters, or the waves that trying to be portrayed in the muted cornets in one of the slower variations. In conclusion to this bit, I do have a better understanding of the pieces than most other players who do not do any of this insight into the piece and hopefully I would have done as much preliminary work on the piece as an adjudicator would have. So does that mean that my opinion is less valid than that of the "three good men and true" ?

I think that if a lot of bands vote for you and trust you to make the right decision using their own opinions only, then surely they should feel great that these bands trust them. Do they not trust the judgement and decision of the bands, as the bands have to trust their judgement even if in the short run they yell things like "we were robbed!".

As for adjudicators ruling how they adjudicate. Surely they are employees of the Masters, they are invited by the people in charge to adjudicate at the contest. They are also invited to adjudicate because the bands have voted for them to adjudicate, right or wrong, but this to me suggests that bands are nearly the lowest part on the food chain in contests (just off from those of the punters!). If adjudicators get their way then bands will be percieved as having no power at all, which is completely and utterly true, and the adjudicators are then far more important than the bands and the players that make the contest possible. I don't believe that these guys are pompous or arrogant and they have their heritage as adjudicators in the old system of adjudicating together, this again may be a time in history to get new blood into the adjudicators box, and as I said in the previous mail, make these people come from different musical backgrounds and not all banders (as good as these adjudicators may be).

As for not knowing much about the contest, my research has involved all sorts of contest historical information, from Enderby Jackson in the 1860's to the contests of today. Am I not right in stating that at one point there were only two adjudicators in a box ? Didn't the National always insist that in a three adjudicator box, there should be a mix of musical backgrounds. I have seen historical data that has had A) Army conductor, B) the composer and C) a former player or conductor. I am a person who would advocate progressive ideas, but equally we have abandoned some ideas from the past that would be equally as progressive as any radical new blue prints. A look back will also see that in the decadaes of the 40's and 50's the music that was used either in the Nationals for a Decade or Open the next were all original commisions ? Where has that idea gone now ? There are many other things that are discussed over and over each generation, but just goes to show the overtly conservative attitudes within the movement that little has changed and thats why everyone keeps talking about it.

Anyway, I hope I didnt offend everyone with my terminology in any of my posts if so PM me and I will edit the offensive words..

Regards
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Re: Apologies

midwalesman said:
As for conductors ruling how they adjudicate. Surely they are employees of the Masters, they are invited by the people in charge to adjudicate at the contest.
And to continue the employment/contractual line, surely they are equally entitled to decline the job offer if the terms and conditions do not suit them :?:
 

midwalesman

Member
Well spotted!

A bit of an error there on my behalf. Thank you for pointing it out, I was wondering whether anyone read what I say...was beginning to doubt that anyone did.

Thank you again!
 

Tack7

Member
U were right tho Richard, its not an error to say they are employed & payed to adjudicate. They should do it as the contest is already organised. We dont ask if we can change a couple of bars in the piece because it doesnt suit us, we do what is expected of us. Adjudicators are offered the job and if they accept, its on the terms of the contest. If they dont like it, dont accept the job & go find another contest, there are plenty of them.


Simon
 

Brian Bowen

Active Member
Have the reasons been revealed why the selected adjudicators have rejected the separate-box system? If they were the bandsmen's choice, shouldn't their wishes be heard? I imagine they know how they work best to achieve a fair overall result. Whether paid or not, they do have their individual integrity to maintain.

Perhaps it's no accident the word contest, rather than competition, is used in banding. My dictionary says:

Contest: to call into question or make the subject of dispute; debate, dispute, argument (my italics).

Compete: to seek or strive for something in rivalry with others; to contend for a prize.
 

edward_allen

New Member
Maybe the organisers should ask the bands whether they would prefer:-

1. their first choice adjudicators but all in one box; or

2. the best available adjudicators who are prepared to sit separately.

There is no question in my mind that I would vote for option 2. The integrity of the Cambridge system is more important than the identity of the adjudicators (I'm sure plenty of excellent adjudicators would go with option 2).
 

Tuba Miriam

Member
Although I'm ambivalent about this particular method of adjudication the competing bands seem to favour (and since I'll never compete in the Masters - so what!), this is the one major contest where bands have a big say in the 'hows' and 'whos' of the adjudication process, and that should be respected.

As I think the organisers have said, a consultation process will follow the contest; maybe this will lead to another method of adjudication being tried and that's the beauty of the way the Masters is run, but it seems a shame to revert to the same method of adjudication as every other major when there are so many potential systems that could be tried. Personally, I'd like to see competing bands be more experimental and try other systems on a rolling basis e.g. weighted placings or a panel of adjudicators where the two extreme results are dropped and the others averaged. Whatever!

There are so many potential systems and bands are always moaning at the arcane adjudication systems they fall foul of; so why deny bands the chance to fall foul of their own systems?!

Brian Bowen said:
Perhaps it's no accident the word contest, rather than competition, is used in banding. My dictionary says:

Contest: to call into question or make the subject of dispute; debate, dispute, argument (my italics).

Compete: to seek or strive for something in rivalry with others; to contend for a prize.

The OED also defines contest as an "Amicable conflict, as between competitors for a prize or distinction; competition." :wink:
 

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