[Bards] Some Thoughts on Documentation for Bardic Competition

Lady Simone ui' Dunlaingh simone at elfsea.net
Mon Apr 22 13:39:42 PDT 2002

Pendaran eloquently asked.

> Greetings All,
> Having gotten back from Bordermarch this last weekend, I was contemplating
> the bardic competition and something occurred to me: Very few people
> supplied documentation for their pieces. I'm curious about what the people
> on this list think about documentation for competitions and whether or not
> it should be required. (Please note that I'm drawing a separation between
> competitions and bardic circles/fires.)
> Pendaran

You excellency you have nicely posed a question that has been the topic of
many debates over the years. Pendaran thank you for asking this question it
is not one easily at least for me answered in black and white terms. their
are many ways to view this question and many answers. I am not against
documentation for bardic pieces but I do believe several things must be
taken into account if documentation is to be required for a bardic

I have several pieces of documentation I have presented before a competition
in the past and many of the pieces I do now unless performed for a Gulf War
competition, The Kingdom Bardic competition, or one that specifically
requests written documentation, these are presented with verbal
documentation. This is done for several reasons.

Many times the judges do not have the time to read the documentation they
take the paper you have just spent time and thought preparing and set it

I have seen substandard performers sent to represent our kingdom who had
outstanding documentation for their songs and poetry while the best perfumer
of the day was not chosen because his or her documentation was given

There are times when the piece the written documentation is for does not fit
into the venue well or at the spur of the moment the performing bard needs
to change pieces for several reasons. IE the competition bar has been lifted
by another outstanding performer so the bard switches to a more powerful
piece. Another Bard has just performed the piece you were planning on
performing. The mood of the competition has changed to such a degree that
you piece is now on the opposite side of the spectrum and  just doesn't fit.
or you were not planning on competing. until just before the competition and
your written documentation is back home on your computer.

It is my opinion that written documentation while a good studies tool should
be reserved for high end competitions like Gulf war and Kingdom Bard. yet
verbal documentation should also be acceptable in these venues. and that
documentation is a good thing but not to the extent that the documentation
takes precedence over the presentation, performance, and skill of the Bard.

their is also the problem with finding documentation for secular verbal
music. most of these pieces were not set to print until the end of the
1500's and into the 1600's when the Broadsheets started being printed. and
many of these pieces were printed without musical notation leaving the
melody subject to interpretation. and by the time many of these pieces made
it into print they were already traditional pieces that had been performed
for decades prior to them being printed. the most accurate way of dating
many of these traditional pieces is on the use of what musical mode (roughly
translated key but not really) they were perfumed in. before the more modern
forms of musical notation were developed. for a judge to accurately judge
this type of documentation would require them to have a good understanding
of musical history and theory.

When viewing documentation for a bardic piece one should understand that
unlike the Static arts. bardic is a performing venue subjected to the
interpretation of the material by the performer. judging is subjective at
best by the judges feelings and how they hear the piece.

It is my opinion that trying to set the judging standards for performing
arts the same as one would the Static arts is unrealistic and irresponsible.
why because static arts are just that static weaving is weaving, embroidery
is embroidery, chainmail is chainmail all in which have set steps to get to
the end product.

Performance arts are not that neat and clean it takes time sometimes years
to become a bard that is ready for performing on a competition level. there
is, research, practice and devotion to the Bardic arts to train one's voice
to be that of a performance Quality. then their is material to learn, plot
and rehearse and development of delivery techniques. after al that you can
still have to consider effects from the weather, smoke from fires, the mood
of your audience, the caliber of performers you meet on the bardic field
will have on the performing bard.  You can give 100 bards an exert out of
Shakespeare to do and your going to get 100 different renditions of the
piece with varying levels of expertise at performing it.

When considering documentation for competition. How do you present written
document original pieces, pieces written about SCA events and about kingdom
Do we disqualify them from competition because the source  or form is not
exactly period.

Then what about filk many say filking is not period. but it is it was
referred to as Trouping and was a common practice in period. Many of there
pieces that are part of our own kingdoms bardic history or highly requested
pieces by the kingdom populace are filks or compose loosely around a post
period piece some examples are the Rising of the Star, Farewell to
Ansteorra, Once upon a time, Ansteorran Anthem, Ansteorra, Dancers Vanity,
Guardian of the Star, Honor and courtesy and Just one more time.  does this
negate their validity in competition. do they negate the bards skill and

This is a topic that does not have a simple answer because the bardic venue
does not nicely fit into a box primary source documentation is not always
cut and dry. sometimes the closes you can come to primary documentation is
terticerary and vague at best.


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