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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Meet Charlotte Stark of Æthelmearc!

The SCA Bardic Arts group on Facebook has been a hive of recent activity, to my great delight. Maybe it’s the late arrival of Spring, I don’t know. But when a bold and eager young bard introduced herself as Charlotte Stark of Æthelmearc, I immediately commented:

(By the way, I am SO going to challenge you to write an amusing song or poem with the refrain “I’m Charlotte Stark of Æthelmearc!” Because you need to have repeated opportunities to say that. It’s delightful.)

I was being tongue-in-cheek, but also serious. And in that spirit, Charlotte answered my morning’s challenge with a full set of lyrics that very evening. I’m sharing them with her permission, and great delight, because in not quite four weeks, but she has composed a tune, recorded it with a lovely sure voice, and posted it on SoundCloud. I’m thrilled to see someone fall in love with bardic like this (she has written at least three songs already that I know of), and if I’m not mistaken we will get at least a taste of her talent at Pennsic this year.

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New Demo: “We Are the East”

As promised, I’ve put together a quick rough demo of “We Are the East” with the help of my friend and sometime mastering engineer Neil Fein (on guitar). For those who want to get to know the tune, here you go.

[EDIT 5/21/2017: In my typically cruel fashion, I have taken the demo version down. The official recording for Sing for the East is available on the song page.]

Wille Vilse (Call Me Will – Swedish version)

Another update I failed to mention. To my surprise and delight, I get to check two items off my artist bucket list that weren’t really on my radar:

  1. Have my work recorded by another performer.
  2. Have my work translated into another language.

I recently became friends with Swedish LARPer Solvej von Malmborg, who had been seeking music appropriate for LARP events. I pointed her toward my music, and “Call Me Will” in particular, as possibly the sort of thing that might go over well.

I was flattered when she asked permission to attempt a Swedish translation. You can see the results here. You can also listen to Solvej’s beautiful rendering of the piece, which sounds impressively sexy in her language:

[UPDATE] Here is the literal translation back from the Swedish given to me by Solvej, demonstrating the challenge it presented. A lot of the original couldn’t translate directly.
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Prices (and the value of music)

Now that Pennsic is over (and it won’t compete with the CD sales) I’ve lowered the price of digital downloads on CD Baby. It’s now $10, comparable to iTunes and other outlets. I realized it doesn’t make sense to price it higher than that, since that just encourages people to go to the other outlets. Buying directly from CD Baby has advantages for me and for listeners. CD Baby takes a much smaller cut than iTunes and other services, and pays out promptly (rather than months after the fact). And some listeners who want better quality will enjoy the option of getting FLAC files instead of MP3s, which they can only get from CD Baby.

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New Song: “Hidden Gold” (title track)

One final share as we all do our packing for Pennsic. I do have a new song for the war, and it’s the title track from the album: “Hidden Gold”. Yes, I’ve finally written a song with a repeating chorus you can sing along to.

It’s a very personal piece, and a reflection on the Society’s emphasis on mentoring and learning, as well as its values. Enjoy.