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bardic Competition First Bardic War SCA SCAatHome

A call to EK Performers

To all the performers of the East, greetings!

(TLDR: Sign up to perform for your kingdom! C’mon, it’ll be fun! But take a moment please to read the long post anyway…)

This is a strange time we are living through together. The first warmth of spring, and for many, the first traces of hope. Hope that the day is drawing ever closer, when we will once more be able to gather together, embrace, and share companionship, song and story at an in-person event. Even now, we do not know just how many months more that will be. It’s tantalizing and at times maddening, no?

And as we wait, lo, this spring brings a bounty of opportunities to put our performance and research skills to the test, in service to our kingdom. (All of them remote! More time in front of a webcam instead of a fire! Will it never end?) As your kingdom’s Bardic Champions, it can be a little awkward asking for people to sign up, particularly since these events ended up scheduled so close to one another. And yet, this is the calendar we face, and the kingdom needs the support of its performers now.

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bardic Competition concert inclusion Neurodiversity

Panel: Neurodiversity in the SCA and Bardic

The weekend before last, the Second Ethereal Bardic Symposium happened, spearheaded by Hilla Stormbringer, the Bard of the Midlands in the Middle Kingdom, and staffed by some dedicated people.

This wonderful weekend of classes, performances, and conversations may well have unexpected consequences (which I will discuss with relish in an upcoming post). But Hilla also set up a round table panel discussion on Neurodiversity in the Bardic and SCA communities, which I was privileged to take part in.

The panel consisted of Hilla, myself, and Ruqayya bint Rabi’a al-Aliyya of Atlantia. It was not live-streamed, but we had good participation from interested parties, both Neurodivergent and Neurotypical, who attended on Zoom. We had the opportunity to get into some “real talk” about issues that come up in the Society, and in Bardic, for those of us who are Neurodivergent. The session is now available on YouTube if you wish to check it out:

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bardic Competition SCA SCAatHome

EK Bardic Champs: 4/24

Grim and I have been the East Kingdom’s Bardic Champions for just over 11 months now. This has been, it doesn’t bear repeating, a most unusual year–but even as we speak, our A&S Champion counterparts are conducting the competition online to choose their successors, and we have announced our plans to do the same.

The next East Kingdom Bardic Championships will be held on Saturday, April 24 (click for details). Performance is, indeed, the best suited activity for a virtual competition of practically anything we do in the SCA. (Click here to check into the Facebook event. The YouTube livestream will be here.)

Grim and I are looking forward to hearing from entrants (note per the event page: You must email us 2 weeks in advance, so that we can plan out the competition day with a sense of how many competitors we have.

We will be holding an online tech check a month or so out before the event, so participants have a chance to verify that their setups work for live online performance. The participants will be on Zoom, and the audience will be able to watch it live-streamed on the East Kingdom’s YouTube channel.

We will share further updates as it approaches.
In service,
Grim and Drake, Sovereign’s and Consort’s Bards

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A&S Journey bardic Competition

Q&C Bardic Finals: Hold the Door Open

At last, we conclude our discussion of researching, preparing for, and entering a kingdom-level bardic competition, if you’re still interested in it (after the analyses of Round 1 and Round 2). For the final round, I debuted the original song “Hold the Door Open”. I researched the Arthurian legends of Thomas Malory, and wove together five characters to convey messages about modern diversity and inclusion. I chose to use my skills in modern composition to convey the emotions of the words.

Final Round performance from Q&C Bardic Championship.
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bardic Competition

First look: “Hold the Door Open”

The family is at PAX East in Boston for the weekend (Spencer’s birthday present). I plan to do the deep breakdown of last weekend’s final round of competition when we get home Sunday. But in the meantime, I don’t want to keep this new piece, “Hold the Door Open”, under wraps anymore. The video (and the correct lyrics, which aren’t exactly what I sang) are available to the public.

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A&S Journey bardic Competition

Q&C Bardic Round 2: Ode to Birka (My love hath vowed, Part 2)

We continue our review of kingdom-level competition prep (from yesterday’s Round 1 analysis). On to Round 2, and how I arrived at “Ode to Birka” as my performance piece. (Note: I am categorizing this as an A&S Journey entry, because the focus of this round ended up being contrafacts of Thomas Campion pieces examined in this series. Before I found the right one, “My love hath vowed”, I made attempts with “Now winter nights enlarge” and “I care not for these ladies”, which will be detailed below.)

Round 2 performance from Q&C Bardic Championship.
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A&S Journey bardic Competition

Q&C Bardic Round 1 (Clear or Cloudy Part 5: Performance)

As promised, it is time to break down this year’s Queen & Crown’s Bardic Championship as I prepared for and experienced it. I’m going to do one post for each round–not because this was the year I was selected, but because the work that went into each round dovetails with the A&S Journey posts I have been making since last June. We will start with the first round, where I presented John Dowland’s “Clear or cloudy”.

Round 1 performance from Q&C Bardic Championship.

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bardic Competition

Queen’s Bard of the East

img_0548A quest has been completed. Saturday was the East Kingdom Queen and Crown’s Bardic Championship, in the Shire of Caer Adamant (Wilmington DE). Her Majesty Margarita ultimately selected me to be the new Queen’s Champion of Bardic for the next year. My friend Grim the Skald, a returning champion, was chosen as Crown’s Bard.

I will be posting my usual post-game analysis in the next few days, and videos of performances from the three rounds. But for now, I want to just let it sink in, and offer gratitude to some of the many people who made this day unforgettable:

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bardic Competition

King’s & Queen’s Bardic Champions 2019

I’m back once again from our King’s and Queen’s Bardic Championships. And once more, it is bittersweet. I was not selected–in fact, I didn’t make the final four this year. Which on the face of it, seems like it should be a real letdown, after having been a finalist the last two times I entered.

And yet, that’s not how it feels. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely disappointed, and I’ll have to carry that with me for a little while as I process it, because feelings are stupid. I particularly loved the these royals, Wilhelm and Vienna, and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them during this reign, and bring them enjoyment as a bard. The idea of being selected by one of them meant a great deal to me. I could feel my overconfidence problem rearing its ugly head.

And then…I actually got there and laid eyes and ears on the competition, and I’m glad to say I sobered up real quick.

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bardic Competition lute

K&Q Bardic Champions: Wins, Learns, & Changes

What if a day, or a month, or a yeare
Crown thy delights with a thousand sweet contentings?
Cannot a chance of a night or an howre
Crosse thy desires with as many sad tormentings?
–Anonymous

King’s and Queen’s Bardic and A&S Champions was held yesterday. I’ve been running relatively quiet while I prepared for the last several months. While Bardic and A&S have become a combined event as of last year, and are likely to stay that way, for most of us who compete, they are essentially separate events, because there is little opportunity to focus on the other when we’re participating in the one. So I will speak only to the Bardic. And, as I tend to, I’m going to go heavy on process as I experienced it. (I won’t apologize for that…I’m learning that a number of other bards, including some I competed against yesterday, read my posts, and find value in what I share.)

But first, let’s not bury the lede. His Majesty Ivan selected my dear friend Juliana Bird (aka Bird the Bard) as his new King’s Champion, and Her Majesty Mathilde selected my new friend Geoffrey of Exeter, originally from Lochac (Australia), and an experienced bard in at least two other kingdoms, as her Queen’s Champion. I had the honor of competing in the final four against them, alongside Phelippe le Vigneron, who like Bird, is an incredibly talented bard from Bhakail, and relatively new to the SCA bardic scene (this was his first competition). [CORRECTION: Phelippe is from Settmour Swamp, and told me as much. I have a terrible habit of lumping people together who play in Bhakail, because I’m frankly jealous of their camaraderie and live too far away to participate regularly in it.]