[Bards] In response to Pendaran

Elizabeth Blackthorne damsle_n_distress2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 12 12:43:40 PST 2004

I do agree with this.  Being somewhat new in Bardic work, I would definitely shy away from a documentation only competition.  I also agree there is a time and place for everything.  When I hear the word "Documentation" a fear wells up inside me.  Even with the typical A&S competition's.  I have things that I'm sure are period but I don't have time to get all the sources together to verify it.  I can't put into documentation so and so said it was period so I did it.  Bardic is an art of entertainment.  My understanding of it, ( so and so told me) is that in the middle ages especially when traveling together in order to keep spirits high they entertained each other.  They told the " no crap, there I was stories" sang their favorite songs and just enjoyed each other.  With this type of "documentation" all pieces could be considered period.  When I began playing about six years ago I was told all that is asked is an attempt at recreation.  That's why the word Creative is in our name. 
 There are people who do so well at period work, and they should be recognized, but if we over look those who are playing and entertaining us so well, because they do not have documentation we have missed the point of bardic all together.  Of course this is only my uninvited opinion.  I hope to not have offended anyone.
Lady Elizabeth Blackthorne

"Biggs, Truly" <truly.biggs at hp.com> wrote:

>> Actually we bardic laurels know everything. 

That isn't remotely funny, P. ;)

>> I can only give my personal feelings here, but I dislike it when
introduces their piece in an out of 
>> persona manner. 

Just to add weight to the other side of the seesaw, I think that if we
have required documentation, we should tolerate/appreciate the hearing
of it, in whatever manner it is presented. :) I'd rather just hear the
song, myself.

>> The point of the documentation is to prove that the piece is period
or >> written in a period style (like a sonnet or something), 
>> not to garner high points for how well it was done.

I think this is not, in fact the public perception at all. Plus, if as
you state, there are long debates in the laurel circle about how long
documentation should be - "How well it is done" is apparently the point
to some. 

>>I'm going to be less inclined
>>to give it as high a score as I am 
>> something that's actually period. 

I think it is utterly Penadarn's right to set up the Kingdom Eisteddfod
as he did, as that is indeed the model that we have set up i.e. person
stepping down decides on the rules. I want it to be clearly heard by all
that just like any competition, bardic competitions are NOT a measure of
how good you are. They show how well you measure up to the particular
yardstick that the judges happen to have brought. Authenticity is a
quantifiable thing - and therefore easier to judge than art. I think if
we have leaned toward authenticity in the SCA, it has something to do
with attempting to standardize what we all think is "GOOD" by measuring
it against something stationary - like - is it historically accurate. We
have opted for artifact rather than art. 

>> Talk to the music laurels and other research mavens about that and
see if
they can help you. There are some folks around here who just love to do
research and helps others with it. 

Perhaps a list of music laurels who like to help people would be useful
here. I shall sit and eat popcorn whilst you compile said list. I'd love
to see said list when you are done.

>> I'm not sure that I followed that last paragraph. I think that you
perform stuff that's appropriate for
>> the time and place. If it's filk time and you've got a good filk
song, go
to it. :)

If I may attempt to extrapolate - If we choose a titled bard through
competition, and we score somewhat entertaining period pieces higher
than more often requested/crowd pleasing original/more modern pieces,
then we have set ourselves up to have, say, a baronial bard who is
perhaps not a good leader for the campfire sings. (which I have found
precious few of lately save falcon rose - thank you Simone) By the way -
I have no one in mind when I say this - I can't even call to mind who
the titled bards are at present. 

>> Performances that are not period to the Renaissance or the Middle
>>Ages in a kingdom competition are, in my opinion, illegitimate.

I understand completely why you feel this way. I offer another
perspective on legitimacy. I would once again offer up to you the topic
of the much neglected ROLE of the historical bard. We can sing 400 yr
old pieces which tend to be an acquired taste - much like opera music.
The medieval bards did not perform music because it was historically
accurate (which I know you aren't saying they did - but bear with me).
Are we to recreate the very pieces they did - or are we to recreate the
function that they served/the role that they held in society? I believe
that music/poetry that will be catchy to the listener and will be
requested again and again to be more than legitimate competitive piece.
I agree with you that I don't like to be jarred out of the spell of the
performance. But a non-historical tune or more modern meter (say that
three times fast) do not jar me in the least. Being bored by the
seventeenth verse of this utterly document able pre 1600's ballad, does
jar me quite a bit. It makes me realize that styles have changed

Which brings me to:

>>Two things here: who says that you can't get the audience completely
>>enthralled with a period piece? What, you can't get an audience in the
>>palm of your hand with Shakespeare, Chaucer and the like? Come on;
those >>guys were pretty good. ;-)This is like saying that period feasts
can't >>taste good. 

It's a percentage thing, P. Of the period food I have eaten, I find
about 90% of it to be something that I wouldn't be eating for any other
reason than "this is period food. How very historical." Modern taste is
clearly different from Medieval taste. In both food and music. 

You wrote somewhere about this being a medieval/renaissance reenactment
group (sorry couldn't find your actual words) and shouldn't authenticity
be our goal? Following this line of logic, should not our fighters all
be striving toward a more historical fighting style as well? (I'll try
not too veer to sharply toward this topic - it is merely illustrative) I
think the reason why our fighters do not use a document able fighting
style, is that they are much more interested in re-creating the sense of
the "Knights of old" or the "swashbuckler". To point more toward
research and less toward that which I can only describe as "the dream"
would "take all the fun out of it." (Some also say that it's too
dangerous, we don't have enough info, Documentation is only for A&S and
this is martial etc) rather than get into those topics on this list - if
anyone wishes to talk from those angles, please email me privately.)

My point is - in certain arenas, documentation can take away from the
participation level and more importantly, the spirit of the game. We
choose our Kings based on a competition which has ZERO to do with
historical accuracy. If we were really historically accurate - the crown
would choose their own kingdom bard, based on their personal taste in
performance and style and the Eisteddfod would be a separate

Lastly -

I will defend to the death Pendaran's right to both hold his opinion
about historical accuracy and to try and help others see his point of
view. He and I sit on opposite sides of the fence about this, but I can
see why he likes it over there, and he understands why I live where I
do. I deeply believe that the strength of the SCA is its versatility and
diversity. If we are a role-playing group, we do it very poorly in
general. If we are a re-enactment or re-creation group, overall, we have
extremely poor standards compared to other groups which require a
certain percentage of wool in your stockings and a period tent - or you
don't camp. We are an odd hybrid which can be molded in any direction,
and I will fight to keep it that way. 

I'd like there to be both kinds of competitions, personally. Mostly so
that performers know what to expect from the judges - or what they
really want. 
Period pieces only competitions would get less stress about Nazi-ism if
we also had competitions which would be judged solely on "how well did I
like that piece". Sort of like popular choice A&S. The flashy non-period
helmet deserves recognition, and so does my non-period horse song, or
the song I wrote for Pendaran. :)

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