A&S Journey: Can she excuse my wrongs? Part 2: Lyrics

This is the second of a planned series of 52 weekly posts on my experience researching Arts & Sciences topics, particularly Elizabethan music and culture. Last week began the examination of John Dowland’s “Can she excuse my wrongs?” We will be diving into the musical exploration of the piece next week, leading up to my first public performance of the lute accompaniment in 2016. But first, an examination of the song’s lyrics, which served as a first window into aspects of Elizabethan culture that warranted further study.

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Studio Day: “Plant Your Feet” with Bird the Bard

An evening geeking and recording with Bird was just what my soul needed this week. They’re extraordinarily talented, but even more, they’re incredibly loving, kind, and open. They bring out my best self, as they do with most everyone I know.

Since they moved to Michigan, opportunities to see them are rare (though there is of course Pennsic). But I was grateful they were able to make time for this session, since I very much wanted their imprint on “Plant Your Feet”, which is a song for and about bards.

We had a blast together. And tomorrow I get to edit and mix Bird’s vocals, French horn, and tin whistle into the song and see what we have. (They also provided a bright beautiful harmony for “Shine, Child”.)

My A&S Journey: John Dowland, Can she excuse my wrongs?, Part 1

Mistress Zsof and I had a heart-to-heart recently, which encouraged me to re-examine my objectives around participation in the SCA, bardic, and this blog. While she had expressed the desire for me to do what many of the artisans in the Arts & Sciences community do, and post about research and learning, that hasn’t really happened as intended. My tendency to keep research and preparations for new pieces under wraps, hoping to delight and surprise (or at least surprise) as a performer, has been at odds with the A&S mission to share the journey of research and discovery.

With Zsof’s approval, I have set myself the challenge to go back through my notes and recollections, and post a new entry around researched work, older or newer, each week for the next year. There will doubtless be some overlap with material that was shared in large bursts after a given performance or competition, but that isn’t what’s important. The objective in A&S is to share the excitement of research, discovery, and preparation, and the delight and beauty of historically sourced work in the SCA, and if that remains hidden, then this blog presents an incomplete picture of what our bards do (or can do). If our colleagues and fellow researchers find performance an uneasy fit within the A&S framework, it is up to us to bridge that gap. This is an attempt to rectify that on the small scale.

The first entry in the series focuses on one of the best-known and best-respected musicians and composers of the English Renaissance, John Dowland, and my first teacher’s attempt to introduce me to performing his work: “Can she excuse my wrongs?”

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Wars of the Roses 2019

We got back late last night from Roses, and boy, is our everything tired. We’re a bit under-slept (which often happens, but a couple of unforced errors on my part made it worse than usual), yet at the same time my heart feels energized and refreshed, and my spirit is lighter and clearer than it’s been in a while.

In the SCA, the idea of going “home” to an event is bandied about a lot, and I’ve seen my share of backlash posts from people who object to the idea of an SCA event, particularly a camping event, as their home. Your mileage may vary. But returning to Concordia of the Snows’ big start-of-camping-season event (hosted by the Shire of Glenn Linn) really felt like a homecoming this weekend. The Albany area is generally a 2-3 hour drive for us, so we get up to the Barony less often than we’d like, and there are places closer to us that probably would welcome us and offer opportunities to do things we love to do…but ever since our first Roses six years ago (referenced in the opening verse of “Concordian Soil”, this has always been a place where we felt we really fit. And the Barony took the opportunity to remind us yesterday that the feeling is indeed mutual.

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PSA – Vaccinations and Pennsic

I started something on Facebook this morning that has gone viral, with the help of some fearless and outspoken friends. It occurred to me (and I’m sure I wasn’t the first to think of it) that recent measles outbreaks, the direct result of a decades-long drop in vaccination rates, could seriously imperil Pennsic this year–and that further, there is something we can do about it in the next three months if we raise awareness. My wife and I got our MMR boosters a few weeks back.

A measles outbreak among a population of 10,000 people would do irreparable harm to the SCA, and all the communities we’d be returning to. When in doubt, get your MMR booster. And discuss this with your camp. Everyone who can be vaccinated should be, there’s no excuse.

Feel free to save and share. (But don’t have a cow about it.)

For those who say “Pennsic schmensic, people should be vaccinating anyway!”, I agree. But if this raises awareness and moves people to action by creating new urgency, then I’m all for it. Thanks to everyone who is participating in this effort, and to everyone who has posted or commented that they’re getting tested or getting a booster shot.


Spent some time tonight re-mixing “We Are the East” for inclusion on the new album. There are some techniques I’ve learned that should allow me to make it just a bit crisper, sharper, richer, and more balanced. Even if most people won’t hear it, I will.

Studio Day: Dave Lambert on guitar

I spent the afternoon with Dave Lambert, best friend, guitar ringer, and recording guru. We’re using the new mic, and trying a different work plan from what I used when we recorded Hidden Gold. These days I put sheet music together much earlier in the process than I used to (I’ve gotten comfortable enough with it to want to transcribe while I’m composing or polishing a song). I realized that having completed sheet music with chords provides some productivity bonuses for home studio recording.

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