pennsicdance: modern vs. historical instruments and music (was replyto comments from Octavio de Flores)

White, John john.white at
Mon Aug 29 11:41:06 PDT 2005

> From:  (John) Byron Boyd
> > 
> >>  I am also
> >> irritated at the common appearance of guitars, bodhrans, 
> and Great =
> >> Highland=20
> >> bagpipes at Renaissance Faires, at which Celtic music (a 
> modern style) =
> >> is=20
> >> often performed and perhaps even described as Renaissance music. 
> > These things are also found at SCA events, inclusing Pennsic...
> >
> > Marie
> >
> >
> Milady Marie:
> Yes, they are - I also have seen these instruments and have 
> heard Celtic 
> music at events and tolerate them, although I would rather 
> not, as I said in 
> my previous post.  But the intent of my statement is 
> reflected in my comment 
> that guests at renfaires are not as likely to have 
> experienced authentic 
> Renaissance and Medieval music as SCAdians have, and hence 
> not as likely to 
> know the difference.  I perform both at events and at 
> renfaires with the 
> hopes of educating people as well as entertaining them.
> Iohann.

While striving for periodness in all things is a good thing,
there are large differences between the ability to do so among
the various and multitudinous areas we are striving to recreate.

In the 27 years I've been doing SCA, I've seen heavy fighters go
from carpet armor and freon-can helms to fully articulated plate
armor (actually, there were people doing full plate even back when
I started), and while some of that change has been for safety
reasons, there has definitely been an effort at coming closer to
period (or at least "looking better").  In these days of pickle
barrel armor (the 21st century equivalent of carpet armor I
suppose, given that pickle barrels are as available and as cheap
(or free) as carpet samples), there is a great preference for at
least disguising the uglier or less-period aspects of the sport.

Quite obviously, the dividing line between "we'll do it" and "we'll
make do" is cost.  Shaped steel is expensive, pickle barrels are
not.  Nylon tents are far easier to get hold of, put up, and deal with
(i.e. lots of people prefer screens and floors to floppy, open walls
and rugs on the ground) than period or even period-looking tents.
Period instruments are usually (though not always) expensive,
hard to get, hard to play and hard to maintain.  That isn't to say 
that if you can do the period version that you shouldn't - but until 
everyone is rich enough to afford them, willing to expose their
and rare instruments to Pennsic conditions, or can even find them,
we will have to make do with what we have:  guitars and bodhrans and
modern flutes and trumpets, etc.

This is, of course, not an argument we can, need to, or should apply to
dance.  It costs nothing to do properly Renaissance dances, it isn't
difficult to bring them to Pennsic or expose them to Pennsic conditions,
and belive me, they aren't all that hard to find either.  We should be
striving toward a more authentic experience whereever we can, but we
shouldn't let those places where we can't (especially in areas of 
specialized knowledge or expense) stop us from continuing to try in the
other areas.   (Not that Iohann is asking us to, but the dances
did bring this discussion forward.)

       \\Dafydd Cyhoeddwr

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