This song was first performed at my concert during the East Kingdom’s 50 Year Celebration, and more widely as Pennsic 47. It is dedicated to the bardic community, but above all to Master John Lyttleton (see Notes).
Plant Your Feet © 2018 by Eric Schrager
Travel with me, I’ll show you the mountain,
Where there is treasure for those who wait.
Here we find students, lovers of history,
Researchers working to recreate.
They are unearthing stories and music
That generations ago were heard.
Scrolls lost and volumes just rediscovered
That’s where these riches have been interred.
Layer by layer, freeing these memories,
Leaving no stone and no source unturned.
Soon you’ll perform this piece, so prepare to
Be as authentic as what you’ve learned…
Plant your feet in the earth and stand.
Take a breath; be still and strong.
Look each listener in the eye,
Your connection is through your song.
Craft and polish each note, each word:
Time is short, and the work is hard;
Wield your voice and embrace your truth;
They’re the instruments of a bard.
These are the instruments of a bard!
Travel with me, I’ll show you the valley:
Bustling towns, busy streets and shops.
Over the din, now, do we hear music?
For a few minutes, the traffic stops.
Here there are minstrels making their own songs,
This one has never been heard before.
People are tapping, singing along now,
Spirits are lifted, and yearn for more.
Artisans are they, tirelessly working,
Weaving new tunes and new tales to share.
Now after months of honing your spell-craft,
Here’s how you cast it upon the air… (CH)
Some in the valley claim that the scholars
Want the new songs to be heard no more;
Some on the mountain say the new writers
Have no regard for what came before.
I love researching lore on the mountain
Yet in the valley there’s work that’s true.
All of the beauty here in the archives,
There was a time it was fresh and new.
Which legacy, then, will you align with?
How will you study and spend your days?
Maybe you have a foot in each world, so
What do you do when you’re pulled both ways?… (CH)
All these are instruments of a bard!
The performance community in the SCA is often seen as divided between two camps: Period versus original. In other words, is the mission of an SCA bard to perform or retell works from the Middle Ages exclusively, or to create new original works to share with SCA audiences?
This song was written as my response to this question. (A couple years earlier, I had posted something of a personal manifesto on this subject on Facebook.) My chorus owes a special debt to Master John Lyttleton, whose bardic performance classes include a wealth of good advice for how to perform in general, and how to perform as an SCA bard in particular.
[UPDATE: The advice to “plant your feet” that gives this song its title is wisdom that has been shared by many teachers, including Master John, and it’s one of the first ones I like to pass on when I see it being called for. But the teacher who specifically raised that gem into my consciousness was my former Laurel, Mistress Zsof. Memory sometimes can be wiggly, and I don’t want to lose sight of her contributions to my development as a bard, nor to this piece.]