minstrel: RE: Anglo-Saxon performance

Hillman, Lee Lee_Hillman at URMC.Rochester.edu
Tue Dec 12 05:11:42 PST 2000

> Do any of you have any information on performing Anglo-Saxon 
> poetry in 
> period style? Any information on Anglo-Saxon 
> pronunciation/inflection would 
> be most appreciated as well.


There's also Bright's Old English Grammar (which was our text in school).
There is a recording of J.R.R. Tolkein (who was a noted A-S scholar) reading
text in Anglo-Saxon that was produced by Caedmon recordings (probably now
owned by EMI), but the sites others have recommended are probably easier to
find and faster to start using.

As far as performing the poetry is concerned, the best representation of
this I have ever seen is done by Benjamin Bagby. He began by constructing a
Sutton Hoo lyre and studying the modal possibilities it gave him. Then he
wrote melodies based on those modes and wove them into the poem. He does
about 1/3 of the poem "Beowulf" in Old English and about half of what he
performs is either sung or accompanied. He has also written little
interludes on the lyre which he uses to separate major sections of the poem,
either where he has skipped a passage or where there is a natural break. 

Unfortunately, he has not yet recorded the piece, though he is looking for a
method that will preserve the live "feel" of the performance. Bagby holds a
degree from the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. He also
performs with the groups "Sequentia" and "Sons of Thunder."

If you ever get a chance to see any of these performances, do so. It is
literally an incomparable experience. 

Ever in Service,

THL Gwendolyn the Graceful
Kingdom of AEthelmearc

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