Branching out with the Lute

I’ve been shaking the rust off the other lute pieces in my repertoire, to get familiar once more with how to play them. (I hadn’t touched any but the one for about six months, because I knew that level of focus was what it would take play “What if a day” even as well as I managed to.)

And now I’m realizing how wonderful it feels to play these other pieces on Rosalind as opposed to the old backpacker guitar. I can do barre chords on this instrument so much more comfortably, which opens up new possibilities and makes some tricky passages much easier to play. (And having played around with a full lute, with an even thicker neck, I’m pretty sure that’s how these passages WERE played, because you can’t get your thumb around the base of that neck and there’s a whole extra string in the way.)

And the prospect of letting someone else do the singing while I play is kind of appealing. This is an important part of my persona exploration and my A&S groove, and I need to share it more.

This music is glorious. And my lute guitar is SO sexy.


Studio Day: What If a Day


It’s Saturday morning, and Rosalind and I are up to no good. #luteselfie

The Lute Piece

After K&Q Bardic on Saturday, one piece of fieldback I received was that my round one lute piece should have been more polished. It certainly should have. I knew that I would be somewhat discombobulated by the crowd, but I really hoped my intensive preparation would provide enough confidence for me to make it through with much less difficulty than I had.

For those who are curious…I recorded a practice session a little over a month ago and shared it privately with my Laurel. While I had not yet added the spoken words (which of course make it a bit more challenging), being recorded also makes me nervous (though clearly not remotely as much as a public audience). This is what the piece sounded like then.

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?

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.]

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Learning the Lute

I have been teaching myself to play lute pieces for about two years now. I started practicing in earnest in preparation for the East Kingdom King’s and Queen’s Bardic Championships in the winter/spring of 2016, figuring it was time I took on a serious and challenging period skill. I kept it on the down-low the whole time, because I have learned that one thing an entertainer can do that really impresses an audience is exceed their expectations. Since then, I have expanded my Elizabethan repertoire to half a dozen songs, and shared them with audiences semi-regularly at events: at last year’s Roses as an A&S display, competing for Baronial Bard, in my concert last Pennsic, and most recently at Winter Nights, where I was challenged to play lute during both the challenge rounds.

It’s just as I feared: Once you’ve shown people you can do something, they start expecting it of you again. (I suppose investing in a new instrument and sharing it on Facebook just before Winter Nights didn’t exactly help…)

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