joconnor at mailer.fsu.edu
Mon Sep 4 09:23:25 PDT 1995
Fair greetings to all from Jed Silverstar (fantastical names, like
simple devices, are often heraldic evidence of pre-statutory antiquity--I
retain mine with great satisfaction), bard of eighteen winters in the
Society, presently Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences in his native
Trimaris. I am a writer of poems and songs original in both tune and lyric,
and am creditable with one of the earliest vinyl albums of original works
written specifically for the SCA audience, Merlin's Song, published in 1981.
A second album to be entitled Phoenix may or may not see the light of day
some year or other. I am also the inventor of Trimarian calypso, a fusion of
Carribean rhythm, latin accent, and Ogden-Nashian wordplay. Though highly
educated with an understanding and appreciation of medievalia, I am not
exactly an authenticity maven.
Mundanely, I am a 2 1/2-degree brownbelt in rhetoric and composition,
currently underemployed and overworked as a writer/editor for the
continuing education arm of Florida State University known as the Center for
Professional Development. Although I have great interest in the divine
Chaucer, all things Arthurian, and the folktales of all lands, my poetic
tastes and products more nearly resemble those of British poets circa
1775-1875, particularly Coleridge. I regard John Ciardi's How Does a Poem
Mean as the best book yet written on the art of euphonious poesy.
I see that we have not been on-line a single week without debating our
terms. As a rhetorician, I realize the importance of building a common
language; as an SCA veteran, however, I also believe we will never settle
for one set. Regardless of origin and historical proprieties, the words
"bard" and "bardic" are now terms of longstanding tradition within the
Society, and have developed indissoluble associations with all forms of
wordcraft and musical performance. They are useful touchstones easily
communicated and understood by nearly all the membership, and (apologies to
our Welsh brothers and sisters) easier in their single-d form to spell and
Because the word "bard" is as useful an SCA coinage as "Laurel,"
"Pelican," "autocrat," "feastcrat," "?-crat," "shire," "barony," "duke,"
"count," "gentle," and so on, (most of which have no purely historical
pedigrees outside of Society contexts) the term will not and need not
disappear. Let us, therefore, regard "bard" as an established umbrella term
peculiar to the Society, and encourage the follow-up question: "What manner
of bard are you?" THEN we can delve into the divisions and terminologies
delightfully peculiar to each culture.
For example: If the new or average-knowledge member were to ask Yaakov,
"What manner of (SCA) bard are you?" he or she would receive the answer, "I
am a HistoricalTerm1 and HistoricalTerm2, which is to say, a poet and
story-teller of late thirteenth century Cairo" (politely ignoring the exotic
nature [to him] of the historical term "bard" entirely). Ask the same
question of Tangwystyl, in whose culture the term "bard" has specific
meaning, and she may say pleasantly a la Miss Manners, "Kind gentle, you are
mistaken. I am no bard, but a noble Welshwoman schooled in both crwth and
telyn, known to the English as crowd and harp. How like you my music?"
Rather than confronting people on their ignorance of your culture
(which may not be readily apparent to others anyway--especially newer
members who may develop a nasty taste for all performers by your overhasty
rebuff), you can honor their interest in your craft and educate them at the
same time in a courteous interchange.
Regarding terms for recorded speech and music, I am not enamored of
"bard in a box" (invoking enslaved Keebler elves) any more than I like the
old contortionist fantasy coinages, "firedragon/firechariot/firesteed" for
car, "pocket dragon" for cigarette lighter, "elventorch" for flashlight or
"elvenscribe" for that more recent anachronism, the typewriter, and lately
her successor, the PC. "Telephone" (in Greek, far-sound) used to bother
SCAers enough that they substitued "farspeaker," the English version of the
contemporary German "versprecher" instead. Why they thought the
German-English was any better than the Greek, I've no idea.
The word "cassette" was used in Middle French and meant "little box"
which seems to me pretty unobjectionable on all counts as does "cassette
player." While letter-abbreviations such as "CD" are pretty modern, terms
like "album" (literally a white/blank tablet), "disc," or "music/musical
disc" have sufficient antiquity in their derivations to avoid jarring my
ears, at least.
Hokey smokes! I'm sounding more like Cariadoc by the day--no doubt, he
is among our companion subscribers and I'll be hearing from him shortly.
Time to contemplate my navel at the nearest lamasery, I guess. As a hopeful
note to all bardically-inclined types, by whatever names they eventually
choose, I will add before closing that Thomas of Tenby, the Ansteorran KMAS
is also a bard, though he has never told me what species. Perhaps he would
like to join the conversation.
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