Musicial authenticity

Bill Hodghead billho at
Wed Sep 27 11:45:24 PDT 1995

| > On Sep 18, 13:31, Robin Hilp wrote:
| > 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.
| That's a question that I'm asking myself as I'm doing the pre-1600
| ballads project. Fortunately they aren't long epics which would bore a
| modern audience to death (unless you have some wonderful way of
| performing them), but they do have a lot of lines which don't make
| much sense unless you know some strange words. I intend to print both
| the original and something which is "modernized" enough that
| everything makes sense to Joe Audience.
| Gregory Blount

Whether and how much you have to modify the original depends a lot on 
your audience and the format of the presentation. By publishing both 
versions of the lyrics and teaching the audience what some of the more 
obscure phrases mean you will eventually raise the knowledge of your 
audience so you can occasionally preform the completely period version.

As an example, when I teach "Bring us in Good Ale" I modernize the 
spellings and some of the words, but keep footnotes like "the word 
'eggs' was originally 'eyren', which means the same thing (if you use 
the orignal word 'eyren' the verse scans better)".  There are now a few 
in my audience who've learned what eyren means and we occassionally 
sing it that way. I probably should have presented the entire original 
and modern version side by side with comments, but space in the song 
pamphlet and a fast approaching deadline interfered.

Another thing you can do is change the nature of the bardic event. As 
an example of this, we plan to do a Decameron reading night in about 
two weeks and take turns reading from text rather like a play reading. 
Our hope is that by making the work more interactive, the length won't 
be such an issue.

I also run occassional "song socials" where we teach period group 
songs, because everyone is actively singing, I can even slip in the 
occassional piece in Latin in a setting attended by 'the masses' (pun 
intended :-).

Liam Mac Mhuire

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