minstrel: my two bits

Corrie Bergeron corrie at solon.com
Wed Apr 23 11:40:59 PDT 1997


On the "true version" - 

Most songs and stories are subjected to the folk process.  The vagarities of
human memory guarantee that copies and performances will drift from the
original unless special care is taken to ensure accuracy.  Witness the
thousands of versions of Child ballads in Apalachia which differ greatly in
detail if not in basic plot and character structure.  In contrast, there is
very little textual variance in the thousands of copies of the Hebrew and
Christian scriptures because the scribes took special care (and in the case
of the Hebrew scribes, developed elaborate checksum methods) to copy accurately.

One writer opined that only the original author of a piece knows its true
meaning.  One might also argue that only the individual hearer knows the
true meaning.  

I know a lot of songs and stories that I didn't write.  Most of them I
perform very much like the first performance I saw, with exceptions to allow
for my own limitations.  Do I like to hear Iolo sing "Karelia's Song?"
Absolutely.  Do I like my own version?  You bet.  Which do you prefer?  I
don't really care.  Iolo and I are different folks, different performers.
My version is very similar to his, but I can't be him when I sing his song.  

On new words to old tunes - 

In period, it was extremely common to write new words to familiar tunes; the
process was called "troping."  The bulk of the Carmina Burana is tropes, in
fact.  If a modern tune is period-sounding, (i.e., it passes the "fool the
audience" test) I see no reason at all not to use it, unless you are
entering an A&S composition event.  

On competition - 
Personally, I don't care for bardic competitions.  I saw - and did - a lot
of that in my old Kingdom when I was Principal Bard.  I tried to institute
standardized categories, ranks, and judging standards.  The problem with a
competition is that instead of enjoying the other performers I was tring to
figure out how I could beat them.  Yuk.  

On the state of the art - 
The Northshield College of Bards has no ranks, and membership is open to any
who wish to join.  We have one meeting a year, at the Bardic Madness event.
(Madness is a special event wholly given over to bardic challenges (NOT
competitions).  Everybody who enters gets a prize.  Divers challenges are
sponsored by folk who give special prizes, but there is no panel of judges,
no first and second-place trophies.) At any other given event, it is not
hard to find people singing and telling stories.  The goal is for
Northshield to become Wales - everybody has a story to tell or a song to share.

Brendan O Corriadhe
www.solon.com/~corrie/scahome.htm
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Corrie Bergeron			TRO Learning, Inc.
Senior Courseware Designer	http://www.tro.com 
corrie at tro.com			http://www.solon.com/~corrie 

IICS-MN Membership Chair	http:/www.iics-mn.org

"I process externally.  The first thing I say may not be the last thing I
think."



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