minstrel: Question

Pendar pendar at unm.edu
Sat Apr 19 08:18:13 PDT 1997

> The questions are:
> If there are various versions of an SCA written song - which version should be
> taught?
> learned?
> preformed?

The one that suits you best. The Bard should enjoy the way he is 
performing something or the audience will not.

> Here I am assuming that it will probably be the opinion that if it were a
> period song, with various versions that the preferred meathod would be to try
> to find the most period/most documentable/ect.  Any other thoughts though?

Only if the goal is to do so. I would perform a period song as 
traditional at an Arts and Sciences competition, but not necessarily at a 
bardic circle. In spite of the fact that we are recreating the middle 
ages, we have developed our own tastes in regard to music (as well as 
many other things.)

Take for example the song "Bonny Banks of the Virgeo." I have heard 
dozens of different interpretations of this song over the years. Most 
have been slow and depressing. When I perform this song I speed it up 
considerably and have added hand gestures. Instead of depressing my 
audience I often end up making them laugh with the idiocy of the whole 
thing. I also always sing the two additional verses that a Bard from 
Ansteorra tacked onto the end (his name escapes me at the moment):

One maiden left stood all alone
All a lee and a lonely oh
And on her face a smile was shone
By the bonny bonny banks of the virgeo.

"I have no brothers at all my dear,"
All a lee and a lonely oh
"But I've avenged my sisters here."
By the bonny bonny banks of the virgeo.

> What about "bardic licence" can a bard make a song more "politically correct"
> for an audience?

Absolutely. I am an outlander and so have not had to worry about being 
politically correct much :)  But I can see and understand the value of 
doing so- especially when performing for children or Fubba-Wubbas.

> How about updated?  in the song in question - one verse refers to a Prince of
> Ansteorra - should bards then change and refer to him as counts in later
> preformances as appropriate?

Again, this is up to the Bard, but I would say that if the song is 
referring to a person at a particular time and place, then you should 
call him what he would have been called in that particular place and time.

> In this particular song, there is not one single writer, so would "bardic
> licence" be more free in this one than one with a single aurthor?

That depends. "The Outlands Song" is an anthology song as well, but I'd 
have people jumping down my throat if I didn't sing in the way they 
expected to hear it.

> The last poster (Talen) comments that it is against the nature of a "TRUE
> BARD" to change something.  I would personally disagree, I think it is in the
> nature of a "TRUE BARD" to improve upon anything they do.  

I agree. A Bard should perform a piece in the way that best suits himself 
and his voice. Take for example a very popular SCA song "Worms of the Earth".
I have heard several interpretations of this song, but have modified it 
to suit myself and my voice. Many people sing this song like a dirge and 
leave their audience depressed. I have heard one fool sing this song as a 
happy upbeat song...I nearly flogged him :) . I have examined the lyrics 
and determined that the singer is trying to get the audience to conspire 
with him to overthrow the local feudal lord:

"We are the worms of the earth" (How sarcastic can you get! The singer 
does not actually believe he is a worm of the earth and would not 
introduce himself as such. Instead he is trying to show how the nobility 
view himself and his class.)

"Against the lions of might." (Again being sarcastic. It is intended to 
show how the peasantry views the nobility.)

"All of our days we are tied to the land while they hunt and they feast 
and they fight." (This is an attempt to get the audience riled up over 
the injustice of the situation.)

"We give our crops and our homes and our lives, and the Clerics tell us 
this is right." (Ah, the irony!Ah the injustice!)

"Well, they've beat us before" (goes without saying)
"And they'll beat us again" (if we don't DO anything)
"But we'll drink from their helmets tonight." (This is an attempt to get 
the audience to visualize the glory of an uprising.)

The first three verses are all in the past tense. They relate a series of 
injustices that the speaker is trying to use to get his audience upset.
He then relates how when the lord came to demand more taxes they killed 
him, and the whole mood of the song, as well as the tense, changes.

When performed properly (at least in my opinion) this song should have 
the audience hollering and applauding loudly and screaming "I want to 
kill something!" instead of sitting there depressed staring into the fire.

> What are the other opinions?

I think I've been verbose enough.


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