bardic Pennsic SCA

Pennsic XLI, Part 1 (‘Twas the Month Before Pennsic…)

So I just got back from Pennsic…and boy, is my everything tired.  My mind.  My body (though not that badly).  My heart.  Because it got a lot of exercise this past week.

(Oh, I should mention, this is going to be a long post.  I may have to do this in pieces.  I don’t know.  I have no idea if anyone’s going to read this anyway…I mostly chose WordPress so I’d have a place to organize and post my songs online, not necessarily because I wanted to become a blogger.  But I do have things I want to say, to anyone who has an interest, and there are people over the course of my life who have claimed that I write well and should do it more often.  And I definitely came out of this past week wanting to take some time and space to express gratitude to people.  I will get to that part at some point as well.)

I went to Pennsic this year with a mission in mind.  (Actually, two.  At least.)  The mission for myself was to break through and find and join the SCA bardic community, and “get seen,” as I had been advised to do by a few friends and/or patrons.  The mission for my family was to actually all get to go to Pennsic, and have all of us–me, my wife, and our son–get what we wanted out of it, or at least a good bit of what we wanted.  (Last year, our first year actually attending Pennsic since our son was born, had more modest goal: to see people we cared about, give Spencer a taste of it, and see if he could tolerate it for a few days without all of us going crazy.  Turned out he loved it and we stayed the week, but we didn’t attend any classes.  And though I did sing a little, and for the second time was inspired at Pennsic to write a Bardic song, which became “My Thirst”, any ambitions I had as a bard were kept to very limited scope.)

This year, though, I had managed to actually compose a third song, “Call Me Will”, which I was saving to debut at Pennsic.  (The song page is now published, as promised.)  In my mind, three original songs in my pocket meant I had some variety and didn’t need to repeat myself.  I also took the time this year to transcribe these songs and a few older favorites to sheet music (thank you, Symphony Pro for the iPad!) and submitted them for copyright, which meant my children were now legally branded as my own, and I could safely send them out to play with others (or let others play them if they liked them enough).  It also meant that when the talented (though largely “retired”) bard Don Levey spent the weekend at our house, I was willing to ask if he would accompany me on my first song, “The Bastard’s Tale” to post to YouTube.

I took time to do some research about SCA bardic stuff as Pennsic was approaching.  I didn’t find too much that was recent–lots of pages last updated maybe a decade ago, some Yahoo groups, though Pbards kept eluding me–so I was left a bit frustrated.  There were a few groups that were running, but there didn’t seem to be much that was clearly current.  My kingdom, the East, did have some pages with a proposed framework for bardic development and advancement from 2008, but it wasn’t clear whether the framework had been adopted, since I didn’t see any follow-ups online.  It was difficult to just find and communicate with other bards from a remote corner of cyberspace in New Jersey (where, if there is bardic activity going on, I haven’t seen it–not that I’ve been all that plugged in, but as I learned later at Pennsic, no one else seems to know of any bardic going on around here either).

Then a friend of my wife’s put out a Facebook post asking a question of the “bardic hive” mind, and my wife tagged me suggesting I try to answer her.  After I gave her my suggestions, for what they were worth, it occurred to me that at this moment in time, the current place for internet action in a community is really Facebook.  Lots of people hate Facebook, maybe it is even now jumping the shark the IPO was a bit of a bust, but it’s the place that I keep in touch with most of my SCAdian friends.  So I searched…are there Bardic groups?  Pages?  You know, stuff?  Not really.  Maybe one or two groups for local baronies or the like, but nothing about Bardic Arts as an SCA-wide interest.  That was frustrating.

Then I remembered that this is Facebook.  For all the things that suck about Facebook, and there are many, it’s pretty easy to set up a group.  So I figured I’d try.  I created “SCA Bardic Arts”, and invited a handful of friends.  By the start of Pennsic, just over a week later, the group was close to 200 members, and it is becoming a place to converse about bardic stuff for people across the SCA.  It gave me a chance to start learning some names, and for other people to become aware of me as well.  (Pride of ownership: They want to join “my” club!)  It was a useful reminder that if I want to get something, giving something is a karmically powerful invitation.

For one thing, some of my fellow bards shared the pages they keep online with their stuff.  As I examined some of the pages, I realized this was the format I had been wanting to make my work available online.  And at that point, I emulated some good examples, and launched the site you’re reading now.  (Ooh, how meta!)

Which brings us up to the point where we actually go to Pennsic.  That’ll be next post.  (Clearly, my songwriting style is a good bit leaner than my blogging style.)  Update:  Here it is.

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