[Bards] From Eleanor Fairchild - Many ramblings

Biggs, Truly truly.biggs at hp.com
Thu Jan 8 08:59:49 PST 2004

Hello all, 

Well, we certainly have a lot of animated discussion going on. I have to
say - Horray for us! This means to me that we all care about the game
and the way it is played. There is certainly room for both art and
science if we allow it. 

On the Eisteddfod and historical pieces:
I think requiring that two of the possible six or seven pieces to be
documented was an excellent compromise. Bravo Pendaran for requiring a
little of what you would like to see more of, and also allowing for
other types of pieces to get more than equal time. I think the
impression (or fear) which kept people from entering might have been
that period pieces would score better than original or more modern
pieces in all rounds - whether documented or not. (I have thought so in
the past - and not entered partially because I didn't have enough period
pieces that I really love performing) Perhaps with a different set of
judges, they might have. I don't think that was the case this time.
Several original pieces not in a period style were received just as well
or better than their more historically minded counterparts. It's
impossible to know WHAT the judges want to hear - since opinions differ
so greatly and we do not have a standard. We didn't actually use a
numbered judging form this time - I think that was an accident - but it
didn't bother me in the least. I prefer writing down commentary over
assigning numbers - but that's a personal pet peeve. 

On being "Not good enough"
I completely comprehend the fear of being "not good enough". That very
fear has kept me from doing rather a lot of things, both in my life and
in the SCA. I stopped fencing because I couldn't get over the feeling
that I wasn't ever going to be good at it.(And because in fencing - when
you mess up - you get punked in the facemask which is an inarguably
tangible way to "lose"). Now - with the number of hobbies I have, losing
one wasn't really a bad thing - but it's sort of an unfortunate reason
why. We all want to do things we do well.

Something I told Dona Antonia when she first started, was that anything
really worth doing is worth doing badly. Very badly. And then less
badly. And then pretty decently, and then actually pretty well, and then
really well, and then "wow, I wish I could perform like that - you are
so talented" kind of well. If fencing had been really important to me -
It would have been worth being taken out in the first round of every
tournament until I actually got good at it. It wasn't - so I have
focused on writing music and learning the $@%#!! recording software.
This is absolutely not a lecture for not entering a competition (I got
that you couldn't make it. Zero Guilt about any of that) I really don't
think that competitions are the be-all and end-all of who is good and
who is not. I just don't want the worry that Serena described to keep
her - or anyone from performing for people if they want to be part of
the bardic community. 

On documentation:
I agree with many of you utterly about documentation. I hate it. I only
do it when I absolutely must. It feels to me like something that I have
to do to get a good grade - and I have had plenty of school and am done
now. DO I do the research? Yes. Do I read historical poetry and music
because I like it and am interested in it? Yes. Do I understand that
documentation is the only way to show others that I have done the
research? Sure. Do I tend to perform period pieces unless they are
required for a competition that I feel the need to enter? Almost never.
98% of the music and poetry I perform is quite post period, or original
and not written in a particularly pre 16th century style. I find that
the people I perform for are better entertained by the pieces that I am
entertained by - so that's what I do. Do I think that the majority of
performances in the SCA should be period pieces or historical in writing
style? No way. But that is just my vote. 

Documenting Original Pieces:
Yeah. Can't help you much there. I tend to just say "I wrote this song
for my friend who was getting her laurel." Or "this piece is based on a
true story of what happened one day at a Lyonesse event" If I have to
have written documentation - I just say it's not written in a period
style. I don't tend to feel the need to justify having written something
the way I did. I wrote it. I hope you like it. But I like art much
better than science ;) 

Kingdom bard's responsibilities:
Never heard what they were myself, really. I think there have been
discussions about it before on this list or others - and my take on it
is pretty simple: Promote bardcraft in Ansteorra in the best way that
you can. For some that means simply perform a lot. For some that means
host a circle everywhere you go. For some that means encouraging more
historically focused performances. For some that means start a library
of Ansteorran music. Etc, ad nauseum. What do you think it is? If you
were primere bard - how do you think you could help bardcraft in
Ansteorra? What would you bring to the plate?

Soapbox and overall summation:
My goal as a bard is to entertain, and to have music and poetry and oral
tradition that continues and grows and makes magic for people. That's MY
goal - certainly not the only acceptable goal - but it's mine. I want
there to be circles to go to and songs I have never heard before but
desperately want to learn, and people like Antonia who grow from not
being able to stand up in front of people without shaking and crying to
being the one leading the parade with a big smile and a "follow Me!"
That's what I am in this for. What are you in this for? I don't think
there is a wrong answer to that question. 

*steps off soapbox*


-----Original Message-----
From: Marie Adams [mailto:marie.adams at visionoflove.net] 
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 9:33 AM
To: Ansteorran Bardic list
Subject: Re: [Bards] From Eleanor Fairchild - on Eisteddfod

Responding to Truly's question on why more bards didn't compete at
Eisteddfod: the main reason I wasn't there, is because I just got back
from Illinois the previous Monday, which took 12 hours with a fussy
I just didn't feel like taking another 6- or 7-hour trip so soon. But
that's kind of beside the point; if I had been there and decided not to
compete, these would have been the reasons:
1) I just plain don't like doing documentation. I do it if I must, but
it's really a drag for me.
2) I have several period pieces, but most of them are short and I'm not
sure I consider them of the caliber for this competition.
3) I have never heard what the Kingdom bard's responsibilities are. I've
never made it to Gulf Wars, and may not for quite some time, due to my
family responsibilities, so competing there would be out of the question
for me.
4) I have several original pieces, but don't know how to document them.
None of them are in specific period styles, like the sonnet, and one is
the style of Dr. Seuss, which I'm sure would make everyone laugh but
wouldn't be what the judges are looking for.
5) Since this is the Premier Bardic competition of Ansteorra, I assume
there would be "premier" bards there, and I'd be afraid of not measuring
up to them. Like Robert, I don't want to compete if I think I can't win,
although I would have competed if I could have made it down there, just
for the heck of it. I don't like the thought of being "not good enough";
not that I'd have a nervous breakdown if I got kicked out in the first
round, just that I don't like going into something feeling certain I'll
fail, and that everyone else is better than me.

Anyway, that's enough out of me. Hope this helped answer your question.

Here's to making it to Eisteddfod another year!
Ly Serena Dominicci

More information about the Bards mailing list