[Bards] Steppes Bardic Competition at Steppes Warlord, and The Matter of Ansteorra

Jay Rudin rudin at peoplepc.com
Mon May 24 08:07:53 PDT 2010

Come to Steppes Warlord, and competeto be the Bard of the Steppes.

Our competition this year should give ample scope to display your talents, and to inspire the audience.

Here is the format for the bardic competition at Steppes Warlord.  You will be competing to be the first bard for the incoming Baron and Baroness, Master Duncan Hepburn and Mistress Genevieve de Courtanvaux, the very day that they are invested, so it's a great time to come out and share tales of glory to the Steppes. Entrants will perform three pieces.  (After we see the number of entrants, we will decide if there will be an elimination round before the third piece.)

1. Any piece you choose.
2. A piece about The Matter of Britain, France, or Rome
3. A piece on the Matter of Ansteorra

I will not adjudicate what pieces qualify as the Matter of Ansteorra.  If you say it qualifies, then it does, but it might be nice if you told us why.

The idea of the Matter of Ansteorra intrigues me.  

I had always thought that the matter of Britain was the Arthurian mythos, and the matter of France was the Charlemagne stories.  But evidently the matter of Britain includes all the legends of Britain, thus including Celtic mythology, and the matter of France also includes some other French legends.

I also suddenly discover that classical mythology and Roman military histories comprise the Matter of Rome, which I hadn't heard of before.  The three matters were originally identified by Jean Bodel in the 12th century, who wrote, "There are but three literary cycles that no man should be without -- the matters of Britain, of France, and of great Rome."

I particularly like the fact that the content of the three period Matters is not clear.  That gives us scope for allowing great leeway in understanding the Matter of Ansteorra.  I would certainly include any pieces about Ansteorran legends (Inman, Lloyd, Willow, Tivar, Jan, etc.), any Ansteorran history (Gulf War, start of the kingdom, the great tax revolt, etc.), any piece that has become close to the Ansteorran hearts (Rising of the Star, Born on the Listfield, Karelia's song, Stand Brother Stand), and any period piece whose performance in Ansteorra mattered to people (Sir Orfeo, the work of the Baron's Men, etc.)

I think we should not try to define the limits.  A piece is part of the Matter of Ansteorra if the bards performing it think it is.  This isn't a category to argue over, but a noble idea to think about, to aspire to, and to be inspired by.

So, bring one piece of anything you like.  

Bring one piece from King Arthur, Celtic mythos, the Charlemagne cycle or other French legend, or Greek or Roman myth or history.

And bring one piece of Ansteorran import.  Tell us of Ansteorran heroes -- or great victories (or silly failures).  Remind us why Ansteorra is a land of greatness, of glory, and of giggles.

Come out to the Steppes Warlord and have fun with it!

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
Bard of the Steppes

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