[Ansteorra] Bardic At Feast lurkers (long)

Robert G. Ferrell rgferrell at gmail.com
Fri Mar 25 13:13:22 PDT 2011

On 3/25/2011 2:17 PM, willowdewisp at juno.com wrote:
> all right I am putting myself on the line.
> OK some people maintain the position that "Most People do not want to be bothered with performance at feast, period." 
> I maintain that we should have some performing as fits to the theme of the feast. What I mean is like a skall performing at a Norse feast and chamber music at a Renaissance Banquet. 
> some people believe anyone who wants to should get up- no  control at all.
> I would really like to know  what you think, Silent majority. Please just make a small note. .

Your Grace,

The fundamental issue is, to be brutally honest, that not all
entertainers (and material) have the same level of talent or appeal.
When someone stands up at a feast and begins to perform, a certain
percentage of the populace will feel obligated to listen, even if they
were told beforehand that rapt attention would not be expected. If the
performer is skilled and the material is interesting there will be
little to no negative behavioral modification resulting.  However, 'once
bitten, twice shy' obtains here, inasmuch as once a person has been
badgered to stop their pleasant dinnertime conversation to listen to a
performance they did not enjoy, they will be considerably less tolerant
of any such impositions in the future.

Audiences in period were probably less charitable than we; bad
performers improved immediately or found another line of work. The SCA
is kinder and gentler, of course, so we'll clap politely and be
encouraging on the surface, but inside we'll be promising ourselves
never to fall for that one again.  I've delivered some real klinkers in
my skaldic career (such as it is), and I'm quite certain I could see the
little daggers of death emanating from the politely smiling faces around
me.  I (generally) have the sense to disappear from the stage for a year
or two after such debacles to give the collective psyche time to heal.  ;-)

Having said all that, I do think that when feasts/events have stated
time periods that officially scheduled skaldic performances would do
well to keep at least marginally to that theme.  At the same time, I
also caution people against embracing any such restrictions too
rigidly--some of the most genuinely entertaining and inspiring
performances I've witnessed have been entirely extemporaneous (if I'm
allowed to use that term anymore).

Speaking of 'background music,' I'm reminded of a story related to me by
Mistress Sabia Gunnhild Hunang, a lifelong professional harper of
extraordinary talent and repute.  She's probably played more 'background
music' gigs than anyone I have met.  She told me of a gig once at an
upscale cocktail party in Stargate where some inebriated gentleman (and
I use the term very, very loosely) wandered over to gawk at her and then
left his partially-full highball glass sitting on her $10,000+ floor
harp. Knowing Sabia as I do, he is extremely lucky to have gotten away
without stitches for that bonehead move.

The moral here is that even background musicians deserve basic respect.


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