[Ansteorra] Can someone confirm/deny for me?

mikea mikea at mikea.ath.cx
Wed Aug 18 09:43:51 PDT 2010

On Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 09:15:37AM -0700, David Brown wrote:
> I understand the importance of the oral tradition that we use in the SCA. In 
> period that is how it is done, but if rely only on the passing down in oral 
> tradition now we stand the chance of losing some of the greatest songs and 
> stories in the SCA.
> If they would have known how to write them down, I am sure they would have.

Master Ivar is a friend of 30 years' standing, and I support his choice
to pass his song only in oral tradition, but I have wondered for a long
time if he considered that:

o	Different people learn best by different routes; some are auditory 
	learners, some kinesthetic, some visual. Some are mixed, or learn
	certain categories best in one way, but others in another. As a
	modest example, I advance myself: auditory when it comes to song 
	tunes, but visual for memorizing words. 

o	A great many things from the Middle Ages and later have been lost
	because "everyone knew them", and so they "didn't need to be written
	down". Gerald of Wales wrote that in England, everyone in the fields 
	was singing, frequently rounds or in harmony. Nobody wrote most of
	those songs down, and they've been lost because oral transmission 
	failed. Similarly, nobody now knows how to dance the estampie, a 
	dance form for which we have loads of good music, because oral
	transmission failed and nobody wrote the steps down. 

Oral transmission is _great_ so long as the material is transmitted, but
men die. The invention and use of writing has permitted _RELIABLE_
preservation of the knowledge of men past their deaths, something we
have and (as far as I know, anyway) other animals don't.

Mike Andrews        /   Michael Fenwick    Barony of Namron, Ansteorra
mikea at mikea.ath.cx  /   Amateur Extra radio operator W5EGO
Tired old music Laurel; Chirurgeon; SCAdian since AS XI

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list