[Bards] Filking <of course it's a long reply!>

Lynn Rushin lynnlrushin at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 27 12:39:55 PDT 2008

Thank you for this reply.  I, too, was curious as to this issues and how do deal with period styles vs. modernism and entertainment, etcetera etcetera.    

Christianna, I would also like to address something.  Talent has absolutely nothing to do with charisma and/or the ability to entertain a crowd.  I've known less than average singers that could bring a house down.  (It's all attitude baby!)  Not that I'm especially experienced with bardic, but I do have approx. 8 years of professional singing experience and a few years of classical training.  So, I say don't worry so much and have some fun with it!

Faelynn McBaine
Whelp of House Wolfstar
Kingdom of Ansteorra

From: Gerald of Leesville 
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:58 AM
To: 'Ansteorran Bardic list' 
Subject: Re: [Bards] Filking <of course it's a long reply!>

Good morning.

Filking - it's what people do.  I've filked, just about everyone here has filked, and we are (in various stages of our careers) rather indiscriminate about it.  Choose the tune that lends itself to the lyrics you create.  Think of it as practice for actual melodic composition.  Depending on the amount of work you want to put into this hobby, the hope is that eventually you will start composing original melodies to go with the lyrics.  For those who want to go a step further, research melodic rules of a certain portion of music history and try to emulate that.  In the end, do the things that bring joy while doing them.

Staying in period - This is a hobby and you should do what you want to do.  I cheated and created a persona for the late 1500s.  That way I can go through the various historical music repertoirs and claim them as historical research for my persona.  I play tunes from 11 century through, Irish tunes, pieces written from the past and current middle ages.  I'm a music slut, going so low as to volunteer to play "Hole In the Wall".  Others may urge you to aspire to greater heights.  I just urge people to increase their repetoire of memorized songs (got nothing against book reading, but unless it's done right, it ain't performing).

Rennfair repetoir - The songs commonly sung at Renn Faires will get you started, and it's a lot of what most of the SCA public knows.  For many this is "good enough" and there's no need to learn a whole lot more.  "Macyntire", even though Mistress Adelaide might be damned near alergic to it, is popular because a lot of people get to join in who may have no musical talent whatsoever.  It's not a song from the SCA periods, but it's fun to sing, fun to join in, and .... It's fun.  The interesting thing is that there is a LOT of good material within the time-stretch the SCA "period" covers.  It takes a little digging, a few questions asked here and there, but there's a treasure-trove full of historical songs and tunes about that can keep an audience spell-bound (favorite moment # 177: Stargate Yule bardic competition when a young lady performed the plainchant "Veni Veni Emanuel" and was able to silence the whole hall).

Bardic competition - A lot of what you might perform will depend on what the current champion and their patrons require within the competitions.  As champion, I've gone from requiring different performance styles (singing, story-telling, recital, etc.) to sitting around a fire and judging from the best performances.  In each case, much of what I've used as a rule I took as cues from my patrons (the baron/baroness or seneschal).  Some will want a performer with a broad depth of styles, others wanted a good performer, hang the different styles approach.  To answer your question point-blank: If they request "period" pieces only, you're going to lose with "Scotland the Brave" or "Minstrel Boy" if the judges have any say in it, but "Miri it is" will work and "Star of the County Down" might. 

I've had a few good teachers, and I'll see if I can't get you an actual list of web-spaces you can go to, but one in particular - Cantaria (http://www.chivalry.com/cantaria/), is at least a starting point.  You will probably receive more advice, Christiana, than you will know what to do with.  The game I play will not necessarily fit your likes or dislikes.  I encourage people who are so inclined to perform.  The good ones will be asked to repeat what they do, or find something new, or be pointed toward a piece that might suit them (or not).  I advise performers to pick and choose from what they like to do, learn it, and keep learning new pieces.  Perform.  If they have instrumental talent, I encourage them to perform more!  As to taking one's self too seriously, I would like to encourage you to take up the concept of failure and embrace it; make it a part of your philosphy.  Because it will happen where you fail in a performance; especially if you're going from memorized pieces.  Remember that the worst that can happen is that they cut your pay, laugh about it, and keep going (Barrett's Privateers is not a historical piece, but it's a favorite sea shanty of mine, sung it a hundred times if I've sung it once.  On stage at the Mucky Duck, right up to the point where "Our cracked four pounders made an awful din," and the words left me.  No way to recover.  No words.  So I sang "La la la la lalala la la la..." and cut to the chorus and concluded with "That was Barrett's Privateers as sung by Janice Joplin."  Laughter and the crowd enjoyed it.  Failure will happen. They won't crucify you.  You aren't getting paid for this gig.  Just do your best and drink your beer).

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

From: bards-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org [mailto:bards-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org] On Behalf Of Liz Wilson
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 5:44 AM
To: Ansteorran Bardic list
Subject: [Bards] Filking

I am new to the SCA and the Bards List but I love Bardic competitions and
performances.  I'd like to try it myself although I am a very average singer.
I probably could learn to tell stories.  I don't have much fear of public performance
and speaking because, although I am now a stay at home mom, in mundane life
I was an attorney for 15 years (and I'm still licensed).  If you can do appellate 
argument or argument in a courtroom when real money is at stake you can 
probably do Bardic (although not necessarily well!)

At any rate,one of my questions relates to Filking.  If I Filk a melody, is it supposed
to be a period melody with SCA related words/theme or a non period melody with
SCA related words/theme? Or a period melody on any theme?

If I'm performing at a Bardic competition and my persona is still being
developed, do I have to stay in persona?  For example, if I compete at
Springfaire, and my persona is 1315, can I do anything in period or am I
supposed to limit myself to what would have been heard in Scotland in 1315 (if
anyone even knows what would have been heard!)  Can I just be kind of a
generalized performer and do things in period from any time frame?
What happens if I do something that is out of period (but not obviously

Also I am very familiar with repetoire from Scarborough Faire because I've been
going for 20 plus years and I have a lot of recordings.  However these songs are
not always in period.  For example, the words to Scotland the Brave, while
lovely, were actually written in the 20th century, and yet this song is performed
at Scarby.  Is it appropriate to perform at a Bardic competition or not?

Any ideas on how I find out what is in period and what
isn't for the Scarby or any other repetoire,
and what WOULD be appropriate at a Bardic competition and what
wouldn't?  I have a nice piece I am trying to prepare for Springfaire but I
don't know how to find out if it is period, other than just trying to do some
searches on the Internet about it to see what I can find out.  

Any advice to a new Bard, who is taking herself way too
seriously, would be appreciated.

Christianna (hope they won't laugh at me)
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