A&S Judging: Criteria / Standards

Matthew R. Popalisky mpopali at comp.uark.edu
Sat Oct 26 09:19:51 PDT 1996

On Fri, 25 Oct 1996, Mike Baker wrote:

> > As for how it should sound, that is a topic for many, many dissertations.
> > Realise, of course, that we don't really know how much CPE music should
> > really sound and how the recording industry has changed how we play.
> Exactly.  As noted in a recent thread on the "minstrel" mail-list, there is 
> evidence that the early Welsh preferred non-wire-strung harps and also used 
> many different tunings. While some of the tunings may have survived, and 
> would be of interest in themselves, I am personally more curious as to what 
> the difference in sound becomes when using horsehair strings (TTBOMK, I've 
> only been around wire-, nylon-, and *possibly* artificial-gut-strung harps.) 

Oh, let's not forget about the increased accuracy of pitch sense and the
over emphasis on perfection of rhythm.  In fact it often seems more
important to play with technical brilliance than any emotional insight.
God forbid anyone break new ground in that arena.
> The salient points are the bookkeeping "overlay" to the regularly-scheduled 
> scholastic events and the awarded "degrees" (may be inaccurate term: I mean 
> the certificates of completion). I make no claim of remembering enough 
> detail to permit a full description, but found myself thinking at the time 
> "Gee, Ansteorrans will never go for this, sounds like too much work for some 
> poor souls and too much recogntion for what will be perceived as not enough 
> effort for the others".

Ah, the Royal University of Scir Havok (the pun that wouldn't die).  Yes,
that I am familiar with.  Not enough effort?  I spent a morning talking to
the higher-ups when we had it here.  Plent of effort, I promise!
> For future reference, what would it take to entice you into coming to the 
> Steppes, milady? Chocolate? Backrubs? Fermented beverages? <evel gryn!>

Better pathway from Grimfells, and a promise that Master Micheal not show.
I would hate to make a fool of myself with someone more knowledgable
around.  I am completely in awe of the man.  Take heart, I am married to
an engineer, and there is a real possibility I will move to Rosenfeld,
Bryn Gwlad, or the Steppes.  And no, he's not into mechanical, I doubt
he'll join the guild.

> Also note that I personally consider teaching as a special class of 
> performance, one which we in the SCA would do well to notice more often.

A wise friend of mine once said "If you're not acting, they're not
learning."  I can face a child giggling because I have an unusual voice,
but if the same subject came up at bardic, I would be utterly crushed.  Go
fig.  The next big toy purchace is mine, and it will be a treble gamba.
> However, in general it is difficult / intrusive to include documentation as 
> part of a performance work. I have been known to generate a lullaby on the 
> spot with the introduction "Every time and every culture known to man has 
> used song as a way to quiet the young and entertain one another." This in 
> lieu of written documentation. (Hey, sometimes it even works - even with my 
> voice and choices of tune and un-words.) It is also a comment upon the 
> request for documentation of something which my audience already *knows*, 
> even if they have not heard my own extemporaneous composition based upon the 
> specific theme.

Three things we can count on.  1) all musicians improvise.  even me.
2)everyone eventually wants the child to sleep, so the musician sings.
Even the non-musician.  3) "scat" was invented shortly after teh first
instrument.  It would be interesting to document that, but it is my firmly
held belief.
> And I admit that it is somewhat lazy on my part to do this. On the other 
> side of vocal presentation, I can tell a story and make a vague attribution 
> to the Cattle-Raid of Cooley - and be 100% accurate in both, yet receive no 
> greater recognition than I might for making up a tale from whole cloth yet 
> retaining the proper style.

This is where we the bard-types need to add points for those who actually
> If I have a point here, it is that a simple request for documentation of ANY 
> contest entry is not enough, while a rigorous standard is unrealistic for a 
> broad range of interests that are lumped together for A&S competition. Yes, 
> I might approach Master Michael or yourself with a request for the location 
> of sources.  In performance, how are we as competitors to present the 
> results of our labor in tracking those source in the form of documentation? 
> How are we as judges to consider a thorough description in verbal form in 
> contrast to a page of source citations which have little more than a name to 
> associate them with the item being performed? AND remember that we must 
> accomplish these twin goals in 5 to 7 minutes per competitor?
Program notes.  I had to write them up for my senior recital.  If we are
serious about wanting documentation for our performances, then we must set
aside time to write, read, and discuss program notes.

> As a research paper, or as a portion of judging a musical performance? Yes 
> to the former, and I don't want to think about how poor some of the latter 
> attempts have been...
Analyse the music from only one performance?  No wonder it's bad.  Without
huge amount of training, one must at least look at the page or have
mutiple listenings.  UGH.

For all the attendant hell (it's a long, mundane story), I really did
enjoy my last Music History IV paper, a 13 page discussion of how Bach
utilised the traits of string instruments to present counterpoint, with
especial attention to the EM violin partita and the Unaccompanied #1 in GM
for cello.  The previous paper was tracing what happened to Conditor Alme
Siderum and Pange Lingua as they became modern hymns.  I know I cannot use
these (though I may try to sneak the last one in a body of work thing),
but I miss writing them for some reason.


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