[Bards] Topic: Comparisons

Alden Drake alden_drake at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 14 08:32:10 PST 2006

For me, the difference lies in the format of the competitions.  In the martial realm, there is more likely to be elimination rounds, culminating in a final round between two contestants.  The final round between those two is usually clearly identified (John beats Bob), and so it is known that he wins the competition.  I suppose a martial competition could be judged with a set of criteria which may include win or lose, technique, knightly grace, determination, etc., that might add an element of surprise, but what most people focus on here is who's left standing.

In bardic and A&S competitions, you don't usually have elimination rounds, so we rely on judgements/scores to determine who wins.  Whether these results are given out immediately after they are available, or held in reserve until the winner is announced in court, isn't mandated anywhere.  It may just be tradition that keeps us from revealing the winner until court.  Maybe "artistic folk" just like the added drama, or perhaps we just default to the attitude we extend to awards, where we carefully guard the knowledge to maintain the surprise.

In thinking about this, I think it might be fun to hold a bardic competition, where the running scores are announced at the end of each round.  Then after the final round, the competition organizer could really play up the reading of the scores to announce the winner.


----- Original Message ----
From: Gerald Norris <jerryn at houston.rr.com>
To: Ansteorran Bardic list <bards at lists.ansteorra.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:24:05 AM
Subject: [Bards] Topic: Comparisons

At Stargate Yule a question was asked; why must the A&S and bardic champion
be announced as a "surprise" to the winner, while the martial community has
the "advantage" of knowing the winner at the end of the final round.

My answer was simply that we can't compare the two; they are oil and water.

As with oil and water, tournaments for arts and martial champions have some
things in common; there is a tournament, the style is usually chosen either
by the group representative or the former champion, and at the end a
champion emerges.  

But the biggest difference, in my opinion, is that of the ability to call a

Fighters are taught the pressure of a killing/disabling blow, and over time
can learn to tell the difference and call the shot.  During combat the
fighters are, in essence, critiquing their opponent's performance in a very
interactive manner.  While the option exists for someone to ignore a blow in
the heat of battle, the training helps to lower that level of "missed" calls
for most fighters.  

The same is almost impossible to do in the static and performing arts.  This
is partially true due to the fact that most of us tend to be our own worst
critic.  We, each of us, know all the flaws within a piece of work and,left
to our own devices, will consider the flaws the basis on which all of the
work is judged.  Fortunately we place the responsibility of the judgement on
third parties that will look past the flaw and, instead look at the work as
a whole and judge from that.  Both static and performance arts suffer from
this lack of subjective view.  Whether it is a crafted item or a honed
performance, these things that we offer up are very personal.  

The other issue is that of style; fighters can fight style on style, or
mixed style, and can train against these options with other fighters.  But
how do you train a bowyer to compete against stained glass, or a poet vs. a
singer?  After a lot of discussion, the end result is that you can't.  The
best you can come up with is a group of well-rounded judges who can try to
balance one type of art against another.  In the case of Kingdom A&S, it is
the subjective scoring of a piece, whether performance or static, that is
the deciding factor.

So why do I bring this up at all?  In the recent past I've heard/read
several questions that go something like, "Why can't the
bards/performers/artisans have nyah-nyah-nyah like the fighters do?"  My
take is that, for the most part, we can't, or rather, we shouldn't, for all
the reasons noted above.  I think that we, in the performance community,
need to come to consensus on this, so we can spend our efforts/resources
where they will give us the most benefit, rather than trying to make our
community exactly like any of the others.  

In service to the dream with a song in my heart, I am,
HL Gerald of Leesville
A bard of Stargate 

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