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971Re: [KWChoir] Re: the rarity of music

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  • Elizabeth Dowling
    May 21, 2008
      Hey, I'm not depressed about music, and don't mind a rant (I started
      it). But, I would disagree on one point: that people shouldn't have to
      experience real Medieval or Renaissance music (including both vocal and
      instrumental). In Period, you couldn't go to a court or church without
      hearing that music. To experience anything truly Period it is a
      necessity. I find it grating to see everybody in a much better gown or
      tunic than I wear, able to weave a dress from sheep to complete garb
      (and getting a Laurel for it), but participate in modern music that has
      no relationship (not even modal) to something in Period. If Jane Doe
      does it in modern dress, that's O.K., but not Lady Joan Glover in garb
      at an S.C.A. event.

      Why do I feel this way? The extreme caution people take to be "Period"
      in the martial activities, other A&S (not including music), and often,
      for those who can afford it, even style of tent. If as many people in
      S.C.A. who sported a Period Pavilion sang or played Period music, it
      would be about the number of people who were involved in music in
      Period. And hey, some music costs much less per year than those tents.
      What it shows me is that most people do not join the S.C.A. to re-enact
      Medieval life, but to re-enact a personna with limited interests that
      would not have actually existed in Period.

      But I am content with those who do not feel that they are capable of
      learning to sing or play an instrument (although mostly they don't give
      themselves enough practice). Still, such people should listen to the
      real Period music, and welcome it at courts, feasts, and other
      activities, because it is really Period, and the real music gives a
      great deal of pleasure. I think the reason they won't listen to the
      music is that an attitude of anti-Period music has been
      institutionalized in the S.C.A., because Period music is seen as somehow
      denying the creativity of the Bardic music. In the A&S criteria for
      most art, one must have an innovative or creative aspect; actually doing
      something Period in music may be seen as anti-creative. Ultimately,
      this anti-Period music attitude defeats the purpose of trying to be an
      educational organization; if part of the Medieval personna is not
      Medieval, then the organization is not about education but creative
      fantasy. I like good Bardic music if it is written in Period style, but
      after one or two Bardic pieces, I want to hear an evening's worth of
      real Period music.

      Donald F. Harrington wrote:
      > Some excellent points have been made. This is an issue I've wrestled
      > with for over 30 years in the SCA.
      > Processionals, pomp and circumstance, these are good opportunities for
      > live music. You just have to be prepared for the facts that (1) the
      > herald will start the Royals marching forward without giving you
      > advance warning, usually 30 minutes or later than scheduled, and (2)
      > they will hit the thrones at 10 seconds into your 90 second piece.
      > I'd add "Alle Psallite" to the list of processionals, it's a bouncy piece.
      > One trick is to get Royalty into your choir. I've been honored to
      > have many Royal Peers in my singing groups, and they're a great
      > resource for finding pomp and circumstance venues. They're also good
      > at talking to other Royals and suggesting the use of live music.
      > In general, though, I have not found the SCA to be a good venue for
      > choral music. This is a bit of a rant, so take it with a grain of
      > salt. Most people don't come to SCA events to hear choral music.
      > They generally don't come to hear music at all. If they do think of
      > music, they think of stuff from the movies (Knight's Tale, Excalibur,
      > Henry V) or they think of filk songs about how wonderful SCA members
      > are, much better than regular people. Music that requires active
      > listening is seen as an intrusion on the fun they came to the event for.
      > And they're right. People don't have to like early music to be in the
      > SCA. They don't have to like choral music to be in the SCA. They can
      > have the most award-studded careers in the SCA without ever liking it.
      > That's the nature of the group. Choral music is a minority activity.
      > That minority loves the music very much, and I think that's a
      > beautiful thing. I think we should encourage music everywhere. But
      > the SCA, as an organization, is not about fostering choral music.
      > Ah, I'm depressed now, I'll stop ranting.
      > Don Harrington
      > Lazarus Artifex
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