[Bards] Let's Talk About Bardic Circles ...

Scarhart scarhart at chivalry.com
Thu May 20 19:33:22 PDT 2004

Okay, I'll bite. 


The best bardics I have experienced have been the pass the candle type
circles. This gives those of us who can't be shut up a chance to perform and
then pass the torch and gives the shyer types a chance to perform as well. I
really enjoyed the format at Steppes a couple of years ago where a person
who got the candle could request a piece from a bard-who then performed-and
the candle went to the person next to the requester. The circle did not get
broken even though a bard performed out of turn. That also made sure that
everyone in the circle who wanted to perform could do so in a timely


Themes are good if you have a themed event. Having a bardic devoted to
"Viking Randiness" or "Viking Prowess" at North Sea Raids might make sense,
but at a Loch Guardian would be silly. In the SCA, I tend to shy away from
any theme but the current middle ages.


Pulling a bardic from the brink takes a couple of things. First, you have to
be willing to cut the traditional bardic killer off at the knees. "My lord,
your story seems most intriguing and we thank you for it! There are many
others who wish to perform before the evening is done. Would you care to
state the moral of your story?" Run the bardic. Don't allow it to collapse
into a rambling story or really bad song.


Alternatively, if you have a really bad story or a series of songs that
threaten to turn the bardic into a silliness fest, as opposed to a good SCA
bardic, then you have other options. First and foremost, know your bards at
the circle and call them out. Somebody does a really bad rendition of
"Scarborough Faire" and people are leaving the hall, for example, and you
see me or Gerald or Cat or a host of other good bards sitting about, call on
us by name and by song. "My Lord Gerald, I hear the children crying out for
'Barley Mow,' Can you oblige?


My two pence.


Andrew Scarhart



-----Original Message-----
From: bards-bounces at ansteorra.org [mailto:bards-bounces at ansteorra.org] On
Behalf Of Paul Haines
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 2:35 PM
To: Ansteorran Bardic list
Subject: Re: [Bards] Let's Talk About Bardic Circles ...


1.  I've never organized a bardic circle, but I suspect I will in the
not-too-distant future.  As such, I can't say I really have a
favorite/least-favorite circle format.  I like the "pick/pass/play" format,
as long as the sequence continues around the circle from the last person who
had the choice to pick/pass/play.  This is where the lamp/candle comes in
handy, as a place marker.  If I get the lamp and ask Snorri to perform, I
keep the lamp and pass it on to the person next to me when Snorri has
finished.  This style helps involve the non-bards who come to the circle to
be involved somewhat and hear performances that they know and like.


2.  Circle themes....I suppose it's possible, but it'd probably limit you in
who attends and who performs the circle.  Personally, I want to hear/see as
many bards in the circle as possible.  One theme idea that I like is the
"It's New to Me" theme, where the performers have to perform something they
haven't performed at an event before.


3.  How to pull a bardic circle back from the threshold of Bardic Hell?  (or
keep it from going there?)  I'd recommend being proactive about it at the
beginning.  State that each performance has a time limit (of whatever length
you decide) and if someone's piece is going to go beyond that you will
notify them when they approach that limit, and if they want to continue the
piece, let them do so when their turn to perform comes around again.


You might also want to discuss some of the general types of performances:

1.  The sing along (we all know the words to this one....)

2.  Audience participation (here's how the chorus goes...)

3.  Here's a piece in Italian (no one can understand me, but isn't it

4.  The experiment (I'm going to try a new one...I may need a line or two)

5.  To book, or not to book (performing and reading at the same time?)

6.  The bard's famous for this piece (Alden can you sing....?)

7a.  Performing another bard's piece (And now I will sing a song by Gerald
of Leesville)

7b.  Performing another bard's piece while that bard is sitting in the



Food for thought,


Snorri Hallsson <snorri at houston.rr.com> wrote:

Greetings my fellow bards:


I will be teaching a class at Steppes Warlord on "How (Not) to Host a Bardic
Circle."  The class is scheduled for 11:00 am on Saturday and will take
place wherever the event steward tells me to.  If "experience" is the lesson
learned by one's own failures and "wisdom" is the lesson learned by the
failures of others, then I invite one and all to come and be wizened from my
own personal experience!


(This is a slightly serious, but mostly tongue-in-cheek class.  However, you
should be able to walk away with some useful information, or you can use the
handout as a firestarter.)


However, in making my final preparations on this class, I'd like to enlist
the help of my fellow entertainers, who I trust to have more success in this
venue than I.  If you're so inclined, please answer the following questions:


1.             What's your favorite and least favorite bardic circle format,
and why?  (For instance: pass & play, where a candle is passed from person
to person and the holder of the candle either performs, requests a
performance from another, or passes the candle to the next person.)

2.             Do you set a "theme" for the circle beforehand?  If so, what
do you do to keep a circle on track?  Is there a point where you let a
themed bardic run itself?  (For instance: a bardic circle at a melee event
may have a "war" theme but the majority of attendees want to hear and are
performing romantic or bawdy pieces - what do you do?)

3.             (The $64 question!)  What do you do to save your circle when
someone performs a circle-killing piece?  (For instance: Joe Schmo has
decided, after maybe one or two too many, that he is a legendary bard and
decides to perform the one piece he knows, a 45-minute epic punctuated by
off-key choruses and a liberal helping of "Um," "Uh," and "No, wait ." -
people are getting quickly distracted and frustrated with Joe - how do you
handle the situation to get the circle going again?) 


There, that should get you guys talking for a couple days, I hope.
Otherwise my class might be shorter than I'd like it to be.




Health and fortune,

HL Snorri Hallsson

snorri at houston.rr.com



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