There is little more rousing than hearing the sound of a pipe band. Perhaps its the history that it signifies, or the discipline and rigour needed, or the cultural significance that pipe bands have in Scotland.

Which is what made it all the more amazing to see the multitudes of pipers and drummers that descended this weekend on Glasgow Green, for the World Pipe Band Championships.

The World Pipe Band Championships have brought together more than 8000 pipers, and 195 bands from 13 different countries to compete today for the nine championship titles. Bands came from the Highlands and Islands, Europe and even as far as the US.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop was chosen this year as chieftain due to her “passionate support of pipe band music and its development around the world”.

Depending on the size of the grade, bands are required to perform in a qualifying round which took place yesterday morning. The top qualifying bands then compete in a second event in the afternoon to determine the winner. To win, grade one bands must perform a March, Strathspey and Reel as well as a Medley event, which consists of a short selection of music chosen and arranged by the band.

The World Pipe Band Championships are the pinnacle of competitive Pipe Band competition.

Organised on behalf of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association by the City of Glasgow, the Championships are the culmination of the Piping Live! festival in Glasgow, which has held the championships each year since 1986.

Owen Sweeney, 64, from Crieff is a previous Grade 3 Championship winner who won in 1989, and this year was stewarding the Grade 3 competitors.

“My job is to make sure that the bands keep their time and get to the competition line for when they’re due,” he said.

“I used to be a drummer and played in a pipe band for 30 years.

“The trophy that gets handed out today has our name on it – you become a part of history. The opportunities are fantastic and it’s a great feeling. It’s a great atmosphere and as a steward, you get to see your friends. There’s still a bit of pressure.

Owen explained to me how the judging worked.

“The band marches up to the line, and is introduced to the crowd from there.

“The have a final tuning and then its a constant procession. They’re judged on ensemble, the band playing as a unit; there’s two piping judges listening for differentiation in tone, one drumming judge who keeps step with the band, and then an overall judge who walks around the band to make sure they’re playing equally in time.”

Many bands flew from all over the world. Dick Finnigan 78, flew to compete from Cleveland in Ohio, and has played the pipes for 65 years.

“This is my 14th time coming for the Championships – my first was in Inverness in 1966.

“Where I come from, they used to have pipe bands in the parades; I liked the sound and used to follow them around.

“One day, I was 13 and asked to get lessons and I never stopped playing after that. I’m getting more and more excited as the day goes on. Glasgow has changed so much since I first started coming 50 years ago – I used to think te buildings were made of black rocks, but it was the soot. Now everything looks so different.”

Erin McCoy, 34, has also travelled from Ohio, but was playing with the North Coast Pipe Band and had brought more than 70 school kids to compete. We have three bands here today. I’m a registered instructor for one and I’m playing in another, so it’s been a busy day. This is my seventh time over, but for a third of the band it’s their first trip so it’s a big deal. There’s been a lot of sightseeing, it’s been a good time. I’m taking the kids to Edinburgh tomorrow to see the castle.

We come most years, and it’s something that we plan for and train for all year long. It’s an amazing experience and it means a lot to us.”

Ian Embelton, Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association chief executive, said: “Year after year, pipe bands across the world head to Glasgow and the World Pipe Band Championships knowing they face the ultimate test of their skill.

“The competitions are of the highest quality, with bands constantly finding the smallest improvements in the pursuit of a perfect performance.”

“It all adds up to a thrilling competition that builds to an incredible conclusion on Saturday evening when the World Champions are crowned.”

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “It is always a pleasure to welcome so many bands to Glasgow from around the world and to see and hear them play their hearts out on Glasgow Green. The individual skills being utilised in a band is one of the finest examples of team competition in the world and the musical talent on display at the World Pipe Band Championships is simply breathtaking. You will never forget a day at the Worlds spent in the company of such brilliant performers.”