bardic songwriting

We interrupt our songwriting to ponder…songwriting

An intriguing thought strikes me, as I near the completion of the first draft of a new song.  To the extent that form follows content (yes, Mr. Sondheim, to the best of my ability), it feels right now as if process follows form.  My recollection of getting my handful of Bardic songs to date on the page, the process of working through each one feels as if it mirrored the nature of the song.  “The Bastard’s Tale” came out quickly, rushing to the page, hot, angry, and urgent, impatient to get to the point.  “My Thirst” lurched drunkenly to and fro during the writing, staggering for a day through the wrong tune, which had to be rewritten, shortening every line by a couple of syllables–this had the effect of tightening the jokes and making the song easier to sing as if inebriated, but at the time the rework was a touch like a hangover.  “Call Me Will”, whose concept had eluded me for over a year, was coy and required stalking for a few weeks even after it took shape.  It took patience and guile to lure it into place, but once I had it pinned, I was surprised at how little rewriting it actually required–it more or less sank right into the page in the end.

bardic general

New Song Brewing

I’m a little excited…for the first time since I started doing Bardic seriously, I have a second song percolating in the same year (the first one was “Call Me Will” back in May).  I’m hoping to have a completed set of verses to take with me if I get the chance to attend the monthly Bardic workshop up in Concordia next month.  I guess we’ll see.

bardic SCA

Winter Nights: My first Bardic competition

I spent Saturday at Concordia of the Snows up near Albany, NY, for their Winter Nights event.  It was and incredible day dedicated to performance and (according to Toki Redbeard, the autocrat) very relaxed competition.  This was my first time entering a Bardic competition, if you don’t count the Depressing Song contest from last Pennsic, which was wonderful (and where I tied for first place), but a different animal: an entry level contest for new bards, who only needed to perform one song, with only the stipulation that it be depressing.  Winter Nights, by contrast, would be an all-day competition for Bards at various experience levels, with head-to-head performances, topic challenges, and multiple rounds of performing.  For those who are intrigued but unfamiliar with such things, as I had been, or who have been to other Bardic competitions and are curious how Winter Nights is structured, I offer some details of my (joyous!) experience there.

bardic Pennsic SCA

Pennsic XLI, Part 2 (Gratitude)

(Okay.  So I managed to write this entire post up yesterday in Wordpad on my new laptop, had copied it to the clipboard and was pasting it into the blog to review, when the laptop battery died.  Didn’t go into “sleep” mode, just shut down on me.  So I lost the entire thing.  I’d spent two hours on it.  But what I had to say mattered to me, so here we go again.)

This is the second part of my Pennsic post, and this one will actually deal with what happened at Pennsic this year.  But while a lot of wonderful things happened to me at the war, what I was left with, even more than joy and, yes, pride, was gratitude.  So this post is going to be a series of thanks.  This war I really connected to the wonderful and generous spirit of so many denizens of the SCA who made space and offered encouragement, not just to me as a bard, but to my whole family.   I know going in that this list will be woefully incomplete, and I won’t remember half the people I should single out (and of those I do, I don’t know everyone’s SCAdian name and title, or in some cases their mundane names, or any name at all).  I nonetheless choose to do this imperfectly, rather than accept the excuse to not do it at all.

First, thank you to my wife, Jesca Jessa de Hunteleghe (known to most as Jess), who made our participation in this war possible.  Thank you for bending your clan-Gordon stubborn streak enough to compromise and collaborate with me so that we could all attend together.  Thank you for the beautiful and delicious truffles you sweated over, and all the love and encouragement and space and listening you have given me over ten years of marriage.  Thank you for allowing me to be part of the wonderful extended SCAdian family that loves and is loyal to you because I had the good fortune (and sense) to marry you.  And thank you for being my best patron, and offering my songs to just the right people at just the right moment.

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Updates: Website and MP3’s

Certificate of RegistrationWanted anyone out there who’s following (cricket, cricket) to know that I registered the domain, making the site easier to find and tell people about.  Also I was able to find and add a few MP3’s from my Spiny Norman days, and will add more if I find them.  (At some point in the near future, I hope to put together some simple recordings of the bardic stuff and post it here as well.)

And yes, I will have the rest of the Pennsic XLI post out in the next few days.

And finally, something in the mail brought a smile to my face yesterday…

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.)

bardic general SCA

Hail and Well Met!

And so it begins.  My first blog.  This will be a blog about Bardic stuff, the stuff I do in the Society for Creative Anachronism in particular.  It will be the place where I collect my songs (and that may include some that are not Bardic or “period”), and comment on the process of attempting to become a bard of renown in the SCA.  (You know, while being a husband and a dad and holding down a job and stuff too.)

Hope you enjoy!  (Because, otherwise, what is the point, really?)