[Bards] What is a bard?

James Rushin dweezle at pcsok.com
Mon Jan 7 04:01:45 PST 2008

While not one who usually puts finger to keyboard on the list and wishes to
remain in the background and glean what knowledge I can from all of my
fellow performers here.  I found myself having a strong opinion about parts
of your missive here.  I will attempt to elaborate as much as I can and

"Well, it kind of dawned on me... there is a really simple answer to that.

Bards are people who enter bardic competitions."

This statement just sort of made my hairs stand on end and had my insides
screamin' the word NO!! In the loudest inside voice I could possibly muster.
Bards are not defined as or by the competitions they enter.  I happen to
know many performers who have never entered one single competition and yet
are called upon more often than not to entertain. They are still known and
respected as bards within the community in which the play and by the
audience they perform for.  I personally define a bard as one who goes forth
and entertains for the people and themselves.  Not for a panel of judges or
an award. 

"or, more specifically...

SCA bardic encompasses all vocal and instrumental performances... at least
in Ansteorra. That means story tellers, singers, poets and
instrumentalists... end of discussion!"

This statement I would happen to mostly agree with, though there will always
be individuals within the bardic community that will try to expand the Art
in some new and interesting way that might not fall into these categories.

"SO... if we try and narrow that definition at all, we run the risk of
telling ( or implying to) some people "you're not a bard, but you can still
enter our competition". 

I hope I'm not the only one who cringes at that statement."

NO SINGLE PERSON should ever be discouraged from entering a competition for
any reason.  It is more than half the battle to become a good bard just to
get up in front of the audience.  If you discourage that you have
essentially put out the spark that could grow into a passionate fire.

"And also, I know a number of people who have wiped the floor with the
competition using just an instrument, or only one of the vocal categories...
so if anyone wants to make a correlation between bardic and performance
diversity... tread carefully."

I've experienced this one first hand. My hats are off to those with the
skill to play an instrument effectively enough to convey what they want to
say without the use of words.

"As much as I respect and enjoy the historical elements of what bardic was,
is, and its functions across Europe... The truth of the mater is that Bardic
has already been pretty precisely defined by the competitions and
championships held across the kingdom over the past two some odd decades."

Once again the competition does not define the the Art of bardic.  The
performers themselves do that.

"Would it be nice if their were more to it?
But realistically, I doubt it will ever get more complicated that that."

It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

"Ivo Blackhawk."

With much respect to you.

Allon Mcbaine

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