[Bards] What is a bard?

Michael Silverhands silverhands at sbcglobal.net
Wed Oct 25 12:54:54 PDT 2006

On Oct 25, 2006, at 2:27 PM, Genie Barrett wrote:

> At 01:41 PM 10/25/2006, you wrote:
>> The definition that we came up with at the first KW Bardic College  
>> event
>> (in 2000) when asked 'what the heck is bardic arts?' was:
>> "Bardic Arts is Song, Story or Poetics that is relevant to the  
>> culture
>> of the society" (note the small 's' in society;)
> Song... Or should it be Music?
> Why this choice of words?
> Maggie

A guess from left field: maybe because a "song" is sung, i.e. by a  
performer using their mouth as an instrument. "Music" can be produced  
using a variety of instruments other than the performer's mouth, and  
would open the door to instrumental musicians.

I think that the "traditional" (for certain values of $tradition)  
idea of What A Bard Is, is a person (singular, not a troupe or  
company) who performs songs, stories and poems (at least some of  
which are original compositions, ideally). If there is an instrument  
involved (such as a harp or lute), it is only there to enhance or  
support the performance.

A bard might be accompanied by musicians (playing recorders,  
percussion instruments, whatever), but they would not be considered  
to be bards themselves -- again, according to that hypothetical  
"traditional" view.

Speaking as an instrumental musician, I would rejoice if the Kingdom  
Fellowship of Bards[1] would include musicians under their tent. But  
I also understand Robin's concern that it's a slippery slope; where  
do you stop? If you call a sackbutter[2] or percussionist (such as  
myself) a bard, then what about dancers? Is theater (group  
performance) bardcraft? Where do you stop? Or do you? Is it as simple  
as Robin put it: "You're one of us if you choose to join us."?


[1] my personal suggestion for a name for our group. To me, "college"  
connotes "school". I know that's not what the College of Heralds is  
about, but regardless it was throwing me off in understanding what  
Robin and Willow were trying to put forward. I think that  
"fellowship" better fits what they described. At least, the way I  
understood what they described. Your mileage may vary, etc.

[2] (singing) "sounds like butter, but it's not!"

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