[Bards] What is a bard?

Emily Minier Emily.Minier at DTAG.Com
Mon Jan 7 06:38:21 PST 2008

Okay.  My turn.  

In response to your comment - How about "bards are people who enter
bardic competitions, or who would otherwise be accepted in bardic
competitions. "   Ivo, you and I both know that hosts/judges of
competitions do not "allow" only certain people to enter their
competitions.  You and I have both witnessed some competitions where
some of the competitors were umm...let's just say, not what the judges
were looking for.  But they were never told they couldn't try.  I think
what Allon is trying to say (Allon, correct me if I'm wrong) is the
ability, desire, and talent to COMPETE have absolutely nothing to do
with whether or not a person is a bard.  Instead, it's the ability,
desire, and talent to entertain and educate and pass down our oral (or
musical) traditions that make a person a "bard".  And I agree with him.
I think that if a person MUST compete to be a bard, then being a Bard
would be a title, like being a Centurion.  You can be a fighter without
a tournament.  We have guys at practice who just aren't ready for a
tournament yet.  You can be an archer without being in archery
competition.  You can be a artisan without competing in A&S.  And you
can be a bard without that competition, too.  Long before I began
competing, I was a bard.  I knew this because other bards told me so.
There is no scroll, no medallion, no material prize for being a bard.
Don't get me wrong, there is a prize, it's just not material.  It's
friendship.  It's camaraderie.  It's the joy in the face of the audience
for a piece well done.  I can't say that I've only seen that joy in
competition.  I can't.  I've seen it at fires. I've seen it at small
camps.  I've seen it in feast halls.  There were no judges.  I am my
only true judge.

In response to your comment - But rather, I believe competitions reflect
the attitude of our audiences .
Again, I disagree.  Every competing bard knows that there are
competition pieces and there are fire pieces.  There are pieces for when
the smalls are still up and pieces that are not so family friendly.  The
attitudes of our audiences changes not only from event to event, but
even from fire to fire.  That's one of the greatest challenges of
bardic, being able to read your audience and tell what they are in the
mood for, and then delivering from the heart.

So, in the interest of fair play, the question is "What is a bard?"  

A bard is simply someone who blurs the line between "being at an event"
and "being there" even just a little with the music they provide.  They
bring emotion and fellowship with their performances.  They help us
remember "the old times" (even the old times before we were playing).
They keep our history alive and our youngsters (not necessarily
chronological youngsters - time in society, youngsters) feeling as
though they were a part of it.  They entertain.  They teach.  They
create an ambiance that, to some, is unmatched by any other facet of our

And, frankly, we have some of the BEST bards in the Knowne World right
here at home.

As always,
Yours In Service,
Lady Adalia VonderBerg
Titled Bard of Namron
Titled Bard of Eldern Hills.

-----Original Message-----
From: bards-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org
[mailto:bards-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org] On Behalf Of Cisco Cividanes
Sent: Monday, January 07, 2008 7:19 AM
To: Ansteorran Bardic list
Subject: Re: [Bards] What is a bard?

Responses in-line below:

> This statement just sort of made my hairs stand on end and had my
> screamin' the word NO!! [...snip...] 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. 
I looked at what I wrote originally, and I do think is was a little 

Lord Allon, for the purposed of this conversation, I would like to amend

my original statement.

How about
 "bards are people who enter bardic competitions, or who would otherwise

be accepted in bardic competitions. "

My point was not to say that you have to compete to be a bard.

My apologies to all for even suggesting such a thing.

But rather, I believe competitions reflect the attitude of our audiences

in that if the hosts/judges of a competition are willing to let you 
enter, the chances are good that a table full of people at feast are 
more likely to think of you as a Bard. The relationships is not cause 
effect, but rather representative.
> SCA bardic encompasses all vocal and instrumental performances... at
> 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
> be individuals within the bardic community that will try to expand the
> in some new and interesting way that might not fall into these
And indeed, any "rule" will have its exceptions. Far be it from me to 
say otherwise. But I do personally believe that the above covers about 
99.9% of the people who call themselves bards in the kingdom.

> 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.
Unfortunately, this opinion is not universal. I know, and know of some 
people who define 'the bard' more narrowly, and have openly told others 
that they are either not bards, or that their interests are 'taking them

away from true bardic'.  I have not seen such views posted here on the 
list in a very long time, but in person I have spoken with individuals 
who who do not believe instruments should be allowed in bardic 
competitions, or that people who can only tell a story or only sing 
songs should be disqualified from even entering a competition.

In a more general sence, however, I have seen a lot of people posting 
here with various opinions about what is bardic and what role it has in 
the SCA. this post was something of a cumulative reply to the general 
question of "what is an SCA bard?"

Also, as an aside, I am always in favor of including people as much as 
possible, but if someone were to try and enter a dance  performance into

a bardic competition (I have seen such things serious discussed, and 
even carried out on one occasion), their are some practical 
considerations. Not the least of which is if  the judges can even 
reasonably evaluate a dance (if someone danced for me, I doubt I could 
even compare it to vocal performance, let alone judge it against one).
Also, if there were another venue where dancing is being judged, I would

gladly suggest the performer consider entering in that competition.

All in all, the above situation probably happens once every two years...

but its still something to think on for the sake of being thorough.

> I've experienced this one first hand. My hats are off to those with
> skill to play an instrument effectively enough to convey what they
want to
> say without the use of words.
Its really humiliating betting the snot knocked out of you by a flute, 
isn't it  ;)
(above said with a smile and a laugh)

> Once again the competition does not define the the Art of bardic.  The
> performers themselves do that.
Hum... I'm not sure I totally agree with that.
Perhaps a middle ground ...
Wouldn't it be safer to say that the audience is least as influential as

the bard's in shaping the definition of bardic?

> "Would it be nice if their were more to it?
> Maybe
> But realistically, I doubt it will ever get more complicated that
> It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.
Truth be told, I tend to agree :)

> With much respect to you.
And to you, good sir.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk.
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