[Bards] Thank you and a question on catagories

Ulf Gunnarsson ulfie at cox.net
Wed Apr 26 01:05:13 PDT 2006

Master Ihon wrote:

> What do you see as the categories that should be considered bardic?  I
> think it can be said that traditionally the term 'bardic' has been
> loosely limited to song, story and poem.  Are there other categories
> you would deem bardic or bardcraft -- say . . . instrumental music,
> group sinding (madrigal), dance, juggling, ensemble acting  . . . or
> would you consider those 'performance'?  What do you see as the
> ramifications of your choices?

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to say, then I saw HL Finnacan's
post.  THAT has paused me in my tracks.  Vocal, Court, and Physical
Performers...  that might work.

I've always considered bardic to be story, song, and poem.  I didn't
flinch, though, when instrumental was added to some competitions.
Instrumentalists could fulfill some of the duties of a bard, though not
the role of chronicler/historian, which I find important.  Let us leave
the "duties" discussion, though, for another thread.

As for other categories, I must say I've given it a try but cannot
reconcile them with what I think of as "bardic".  Theater is closer
than, say, dance, but it is too fixed.  One or two pieces a night, and
generally requiring props or sets or other scene shapers, theater lacks
the flexibility to cover the wide range that a "bard" is expected to by
the populace at large (or at least by my interpretation of what they
expect.)  Dance, like instrumental, can convey the emotion of a moment
in time, and even a bit of the drama.  But without words, it cannot but
hint at any specific storyline.  Calling a piece "The Fall of Gondolin"
would not begin to cover the greatness of that city, nor the tragedy of
its betrayal.

Then there are group performances.  I've seen one instrumental duet that
worked like a soloist.  Otherwise, you are dealing with entertainers,
not bards.  Hmmm... that didn't sound very good.  But maybe that's what
underlies this image of "bard" in my mind.  A bard to me is quite a bit
more than an entertainer.  A bard is a counselor and a calmer, a
champion and a rallier, an historian and an entertainer, with the
smoothness to step into and fill an awkward silence.  It is difficult
for a group of performers to fit all these.

Now, looking at Finnican's Categories, I see that what I think of as a
bard is a Vocal Performer, and I'm happy with that definition.  His
Physical Performers are the class of people that had to sleep outside
the town walls at night.  Sorry, Laws are Laws.  The "Court" Performers
might sometimes fall in that category as well, but the term "Court" fits
both the venue of performance and structure of performance better than
any other term I could think of.

I think we should keep these three categories in mind as we examine some
of these questions that Master Ihon is throwing out to see how they fit,
if at all, with the SCA's views on performers and methods of dealing
with them.

Ulf Gunnarsson

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