Musicial authenticity

ERIN NHAMINERVA amazon at mercury.sfsu.edu
Mon Sep 18 17:02:51 PDT 1995



On Mon, 18 Sep 1995, Robin Hilp wrote:

> On Sun, 10 Sep 1995, Greg Lindahl wrote:
> >
> 
> Hm, well, I'm trying to document performance technique.  (Okay, with slow 
> success as yet, but I've made indeed some headway.)  Haven't found any 
> detailed stage directions *grins* but there are a lot of well-documented 
> clues to verbal and non-verbal characterization and even some clues to 
> speech patterns.  (I'm a storyteller and use music only peripherally when 
> at all, btw.)
> 
> Actually I'm finding not a dearth of information but a mountain of 
> sources, with few clues as to which sources are reliable ... *whine*

   Would you be willing to share a list of those sources?? While an 
absolutely authentic performance is unlikely to be possible, at least 
until we have time machines and can go back and watch a few, I'm all for 
knowing as much as possible about how stories/ballads were presented in 
various periods. If I adapt or create a setting or style, I'd like to do 
it knowing what portions are *approximately* period, what is new, and why.
                                                                         
 > On Sep 9,  9:28, Brett Williams wrote:
> > > And that's not a step I want to take. One of my greatest joys in music 
> > > is what I call 'redaction music": a demonstrably old piece of music or 
> > > song that's been redone/reinterpreted anew.

   Personally, I think that redactions are necessary, though not to the 
exclusion of the original. Each period reinterprets the stories/songs it 
considers important or interesting. We would not have so many versions of 
things if this were not so. Keeping a story accessible to the population 
in general keeps it alive. I think it's very important, however, when 
this is done, that it is made clear in some way that the piece is 
derivative and that the original sources are documented. In this way, the 
chain is not broken between past and present. I don't mean that it's 
necessary to recite the entire genealogy of the piece to the audience 
each time it is performed, unless you're playing to that sort, in which 
case you would probably be performing the original, if possible, anyway, 
but when you write it down, a bibliography/history could be attached. 
When I write and perform such pieces, I like to have such information, 
both to work small bits into my patter and to answer any questions I 
might be asked. 
   Reinterpretation can provide a path back to the original source 
because of its accessibility. I had some real problems with Braveheart, 
for example, but a lot of interest in things Scottish was generated by 
it. Sure, 99% of the audience was entertained and went home, but a few 
will develop an interest in the period because of it. 
   
> This raises a related question in my mind:  To what extent should an SCA 
> performance be modified for modern tastes?  If I were to perform stories 
> from the Decameron as it is written, my audience would be asleep halfway 
> through the apologies.  OTOH I can spice-up my delivery with modern body 
> language and idioms and keep my audience chuckling.  I'm still wondering 
> whether I'll always have to compromise between authenticity and fun.
 
   I'm not sure that authenticity and fun are mutually exclusive....
I also think that the level of authenticity depends on the audience. 
IMHO, the epics we have are in cold storage, they aren't at all as they 
would be performed. It's the difference between looking at the text of a 
ballad in Child- bare lyrics, no music, no clue to how it was performed, 
at least none in the text, and seeing the same piece presented to an 
audience- say through the aforementioned time machine. 
   While I think authenticity is important, I think it is possible to 
perform on many levels for different audiences. I think it is very 
important to know exactly where a particular piece or performance fits on 
the continuum between absolutely documented and pure reinterpretation. To 
me, this is just as important as the distinction between periods- it can 
be seen as an extension of the same thing. After all, the present is just 
another period and as such, is separated from the others in the same way- 
by time. 
                                                 Erin NhaMinerva



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