[Bards] What Constitutes Being a Bard?

T'Star bedlamandmayhem at gmail.com
Tue Oct 31 14:22:53 PST 2006

At the core of this dispute seems to, me, to be a rather interesting
question... that no one seems to have addressed since I joined the
list. (Albeit that was very recently.)

What constitutes being a Bard?

Is it recording histories in specific mandated forms and styles as it
was for court bards in large chunks of Europe for large chunks of

Is it what became Minstralsey?  People getting out and performing
either because they had something to say or because they wanted to.

Is it the ancient nearly sacred position of a Bard of Ireland, Umbria,
Gaul, Saxony?

Is it the Skalds of the Norse?

Each culture has its own way of dealing with entertainers.  Each
culture we draw from has it's own definition of what it means to be a
Bard, yet they all have a similar role: Keepers of history in Truth
and in satire.  Keepers of Painfull lessons painfully learned.
Bringers of hope where hope is lost.  Keepers of Wisdom as much as
knowledge.  In most cultures we play the common populace was not well
versed in reading and writing.  The Bards catered to the nobles in
forms and styles... the Minstrels catered to the common man, where
books and learned reasoning meant much less.

I came to Bardic to be a minstrel.  To do what minstrels did, in
spirit as much as in form.  To wile away the cold nights with warm
song and company.  To tell tales so that names are not forgotten.  To
make light of harsh situations so that they do not break those going
through them.  To give one man a song to lighten his heart, and
another man a tale to remind him of duty.  The soul of bardic is, to
me, not limited by style, is not limited by region.  To me the soul of
bardic is the wisdom to know what needs to be said to do what must be
done, the knowledge to have the words to say, and the skill to

I was brought to bardic because I heard friends, who were not then
champion bards speak of legends, tales told from long ago... tales
written now.  Songs and stories and poems and music without words,
that captured the soul... Stories that lived in the audience not just
their memories.  Perhaps it was their best bit of bardic magic to
weave a tapestry of what Ansteoran Bardic could be.  Then I came here
after 5 years in the military.  I have only caught glimpses of what it
could be.  One was at the North Keep demo, where one bard in
particular was wandering the demo singing songs that were obviously
well known to the folk who had been around a while... and were easy
enough to pick up on by new people like me who had never heard the
SCA's music. (Thank you Nyx, from the bottom of my heart.)  There were
several moments at Triumphe's Bardic contest where I felt that same
kind of whole hearted bardic.

Then there have been other times when I have sat down, expecting that
kind of performance, where the audience is part of the performance,
even if they do nothing but listen... and gotten a concert.  There was
that invisible wall between me and the Bard.  It is that wall, above
all else, that I seek to avoid in my own performances, few as they
have been in this venue.

If we do not know and state where we, ourselves stand at the most
basic level, we cannot determine where we, as a group, stand... or
even if we ARE a cohesive group rather than a mob.

So, I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen.  What does it mean to YOU to be a
bard?  Why does THIS art Call you so?  What standard do you hold

~Svetlana Andrievna Volkova

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