As I find myself more and more involved in this thing called “bardic arts”(1) within the SCA, I am slowly coming to grips with what I want as part of the bigger picture ™.

When J. and I joined the SCA, we did it simply for the fact that it was fun. It was an escape from the grind and rigors of our mundane life. As I’ve mentioned before, I never really gave much thought to any goals I had beyond playing music and entertaining people, and getting my feet wet with period music (because I never had the chance to study it in college).

But what else? I’m now at the point I am beginning to wonder about how much more I want to do.

LutePlayer 003I know I want to learn more period songs, and have some that I can incorporate into my regular performance repertoire. I want to learn more about early music; how it’s structured, theory of the modal system, how it evolved. I want to incorporate that into my songwriting (ballad-style would probably be the easiest to begin with). I want to learn more about where these songs came from. Especially the last, the history really intrigues me and I find that music gives a very unique window into the views of society at the time. And last but definitely not least, I want to become a better performer as far as the period songs go. I so admire and love it when performers are completely consumed by the piece they are performing, when all modernity disappears and they become their persona and draw everyone back along with them… I want that. I want to do that.

WeinhardPics 004AA while back, I had an opportunity appear that would have offered me a lot of guidance in this regard. After much thought, I elected to decline, based on the uncertain time in which I find myself. I know I’ve said this before and it didn’t come to pass — my life and responsibilities may change pretty drastically here in a few months. I harbor concerns about whether — provided I have a baby to bring home this fall — I will have enough brain power and energy to devote to studying these passions. Because I don’t want to do anything half-a$$ed, especially not my music. I love it too much to put something substandard out there.

But now I’m wondering if maybe I was too cautious. (I have a problem with not being a risk-taker.) I’m wondering if maybe I should have gambled a little.

I don’t really know.

Regardless, I have decided that at the least I will pursue my interests on my own as I’ve always done — starting with preparations for a “Single Entry” at this next year’s Kingdom Bardic competition. As I see it, I will be there anyway to be a judge (baby or no baby), and so, why not?

Of course, now I have another problem:

What song do I pick???

* * *

[1]: Essentially any type of performance art suitable or documentable (as existing between 600-1600 A.D.) for entertainment in the SCA; including but not limited to filks, folk songs & music, storytelling, poetry, dance, drama, acrobatics, and magic.


6 thoughts on “Studies, and Taking the Craft Further

  1. Speaking as an academic history guy, this is the sort of thing that can be a ground-breaking sort of study in our world, because you have something that (like you said) provides a unique look into the social world of the time. Thinking in terms of presentation, this is the sort of thing that cries out for a different sort of presentation than we’re known for, because music really needs to be heard and experienced more than paragraphs in a monograph would do. It’s really something that would show that a different format could work for the academic side and the production side.

    On the other hand, your time gets taken up pretty dramatically in just a few weeks, but that doesn’t make anything impossible. Plenty of moms suffer through grad school or independent studies or whatever endeavor they want to pursue and make it work. It’s just hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. At this rate, it wouldn’t be any harder than the things you’ve already done.

    1. That’s one of the reasons why I love how the SCA takes on “living history” and handles Arts & Sciences competition — at least in my “Kingdom,” they encourage full documentation (or research) along with the hands-on component.

      I think that (especially with arts), it’s our first impulse to want to stick it in a glass jar, tidily separate from everything else, for “ease” of study. When that’s not a good or fitting method, because so much of it is dependent on other aspects of the time period — like fabric types in clothing being determined by availability, or, as I learned the other day, instrument selection being governed by a larger cultural prejudice (THAT’s a fascinating one, btw). To get a good picture of how the art functioned, you kind of *have* to look at the greater context.

      And that’s a good point — I never really considered that juggling my interests and self-directed studies might be no harder than the journey I’ve taken thus far. Thanks. 🙂

      1. In history, we get obsessed with words and paragraphs, while you’ve got a gold mine there of material culture like clothing and then all that music that really needs something that we don’t (always or often) do that well.

        You just might really be onto something, and it brings “hobbyists” and “professionals” together in some unique ways. That seems good, since everyone is going roughly the same direction.

        Another hint, just for fun: Everyone’s studies are based on their own interests. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother doing that to themselves. 🙂

  2. My daughter is two years old and as you know I’m a scribe. I’m the stay at home parent. I don’t do anything by halves. I’m a full on or full off kind of person. And then, well, children. I don’t half ass taking care of my daughter. And I don’t half-as taking care of my wife or our home. And you can ask anyone, I don’t half-ass being a medieval scribe either.

    But, I have slowed down. I can not be the parent I need to be if I go 110% forward with my scribal. I can’t be the husband I need to be if I go 110% forward with my scribal either. So, I’ve learned to go 110% with my scribal just less often. And that’s okay. I’m not half-assing anything. When I do it, I really do it! In some ways its really helped me to focus on what I need to focus on. I don’t have the luxury if playing around with a few things and see how things go. I need to focus on specific things and learn them, polish them and practice them. No screwing around.

    You can be a parent a spouse and a bard and do all of them at 110%. You’ll just want to give yourself permission to figure out how to do that as things change. And giver yourself permission to do your 110% in pieces and parts and at certain times. Nice thing about bardic is that you can sing and work things out and entertain/play with your baby at the same time though not all the time.

    1. Welcome, Ian!

      And thank you for weighing in. 🙂 Always great to hear from another SCAdian on the topic.

      I think the thing that trips me up is the uncertainty. (And how so many people push this mentality that having kids=Giving up everything that makes you who you are.) But you make some excellent points about timing and selectivity. I would suppose its a bit more like what I’ve been doing since I became the Kingdom Bard — there’s no way I can teach a class at every event, there’s no way I can be at every bardic circle… So I pick and choose, and try to vary my routine. 🙂


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