Monday, December 10, 2012

50 posts! I win!

"Blogger" tells me that there are 50 posts in this blog, so I must have met my A&S 50 challenge!  Since several posts include multiple classes, I'm pretty confident that there have been more than 50 opportunities to teach. However, some of these are reruns. (Not completely, since no two classes are alike, but there was definite overlap - especially in the several incarnations of the persona classes.)  I wonder if I should tweak my challenge to "50 different classes" instead of simply "50 classes".  That sounds too much like work!

I think my time will be better used in improving the documentation for several of the classes I've already presented, and organizing the information better. I recall a class somewhere... taught by someone... that commands the listener to WRITE IT DOWN!  Like most of my shopping lists, many of my source notes were lost under the weight of a deadline. It would be a good idea to re-insert the documentation into each class script. (I remove them so they don't create a distraction when I'm doing the class. And yes, Virginia, I do use a script, as I am easily distracted, and don't wish to repeat myself by ad-libbing too much.)

So perhaps the next challenge is to create 50 booklets - one for each class - with full documentation and pictures. May be -- after I tackle a new class for SUN and for Bardic Madness.

So you want to make a pilgrimage

The event was "Boar's Head - A Celebration of Travelers" (The gate was a viking ship and the site token was a pilgrim badge).  What else could I do but give advice to those who might want to undertake a pilgrimage?  The challenge was to present information about reasons for pilgrimage and equipment for the journey completely in persona. I had my scrip and staff, and badge-filled hat (borrowed from the Wife of Bath), so I could look like a pilgrim of 1284. But that wasn't enough.
What Kudrun didn't know, was that Karyn had a projector along, and could show slides of period pilgrims and shrines behind her back. This allowed presentation of things that would happen in Kudrun's future, such as the 1388 ordinance of Richard II allowing arrest of anyone claiming to be a pilgrim without the proper credentials, and Christopher Columbus vowing that a crew member would make a pilgrimage if they survived rough seas. I could display a map of the three pilgrimages imposed on a profligate priest that basically got him out of the Archbishop's hair for three years. I don't know if anyone noticed that the gent in his undies, asking, "Has anybody seen my tunic?" was holding a bar of soap. (He had sewn his money into his tunic... and then took it off for bathing.)
Not many subjects lend themselves to in-persona teaching as well as this one did, but I recommend it for SCA teachers. I don't know how students perceive it, but as teacher, I feel that it allows more immersion into the thought of the real middle ages. One is able to say, "We do this because of that" as opposed to "In period they thought this or that."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Falcon's Gate to persona

Aristotle's Poetics was reviewed again on Thursday, October 11 (10/11/12) as Falcon's Gate invited me to UW Stevens Point to talk about persona. (We should have done class about navigation, right, Keepers?)  We also had a few side trips on the rainbow, numbers, and Terry Pratchett.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Novices, Neophytes & Knaves III

NNK is an event for newcomers, but this year it was also put on by newcomers.  Students from University of Wisconsin Green Bay did a fine job of hosting the event, with mentoring by old-timers. The selection of classes was excellent, with martial arts, fiber arts, calligraphy, and SCA culture represented.
My own contribution included Aristotle's take on persona, which you've seen here many times. I also presented "A Source is a Source, of course, of course..." which introduced some of the pitfalls of SCA research. I tried this class at Warriors & Warlords, but for this incarnation I was able to use PowerPoint to show more clearly the differences between "good enough" sources and "really awful" sources. The purpose for the research determines the level and the direction of research for a project. What's adequate for first garb is not adequate for entering an A&S Competition. (And woe betide the one who criticizes a newcomer for not having garb as classy as the Laurel next door.) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A&S Salon at Rose Rises

Rose Rises is a new event hosted by the Canton of Coille Stoirmeil. It took place at a new (for the SCA) venue, Aquarian Gardens near New Lisbon, Wisconsin.  I was asked to do something with A&S, so I hauled a mess of books of all kinds and held a salon, where people could do research, work on projects, or just hang out. We even had a couple bardic circles.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Once more into the garden

Cross & Compass was a Northshield event held in Calontir this weekend. (Those familiar with the heraldry of both kingdoms will realize what a clever event title that is.)  I had not yet invoked the aid of Calontiri in organizing my herbal, so I shared my struggle with them. At first only one gentle came to my aid, but eventually six good gentles were in attendance. I still am uncertain about the best organization.  Worse, I added some new herbs to the mix, making the struggle even more difficult (but more interesting).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Sometimes a class is completely unplanned. We offered tours of WW (our "big event") and a lady in my tour group asked about medieval medicine. I couldn't take the time to talk with her in depth, or I'd lose the rest of the group, but I asked her to email me with her request. This she did, and from the comfort of my own library I was able to recommend several books for her.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

WW Meet & Greet

Northshielders were invited to gather to meet each other in person at our "Big Event", Warriors & Warlord, held the weekend of July 13 in Boscobel, Wisconsin. About a dozen of us gathered, introduced ourselves, and chatted about our projects. Several folks from one shire though about beginning a shire-wide challenge. Others shared countless A&S activities they were pursuing. It was a high-energy gathering - full of geekiness.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Duly Noted

In his Etymologies, St Isidore said,  Unless sounds are remembered by man, they perish, for they cannot be written down.”  He was right in his time, but it didn't take long for people to find a new way to write music. 
"Duly Noted" was an attempt to trace the uneven history of notating music in manuscripts, first with neumes, then with neumes on a staff, to square or diamond-shaped notes on a staff of four to seven lines. There were other methods used in handbooks that didn't quite make it to prime-time. Some of the manuscripts were smaller than a paperback, others were well over two feet tall. 
The best thing I found was the Exultet Roll, which was nothing less than 11th century PowerPoint!  Since this was an event that combined the Stellar University of Northshield with a Scribes and Heralds Symposium, I included lots of manuscripts with heraldry. I also recycled "Now I know my ABGs" -- a history of the alphabet.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Class out of Whole Cloth

Sometimes a class is altogether too easy.  Since the Shire is planning a trip to a fabric store, I brought a variety of different fabrics to our regular A&S Night so people could see and feel some different kinds of fabric. The dreadful polyester from 1970 threw people off a bit, and some were glad for very limited exposure to wool. A few cottons were pretty good substitutes for period fabrics.  But linen was the big hit.  The local fabric store doesn't sell linen, so we may have a field trip to the Twin Cities in our future.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Replay, Reuse, Recycle

The class on "Medieval Music You Already Know" inspired me to do a class on contrafacta in period. I'd done classes in "filk" - which is a more lighthearted word for the same thing. But this was about filk in period - from fourth century Arian adaptations of popular music, through troubadours borrowing church music for their love songs, to composers using folk tunes as the basis for polyphonic masses.
We looked at borrowings as many as four deep, as a twelfth-century "Ave Regina" chant may have been used for a twelfth century troubadour's love song, which was borrowed for a thirteenth-century pilgrim song, and a thirteenth century song in praise of gluttony.
Anyone who thinks of the middle ages as insular or restrictive might be surprised at the international trade in music. A tune that's still popular today can be found in Italian, Bohemian, Gallican, and German manuscripts of the tenth to fifteenth centuries.
Those who prize originality might be surprised to learn that troubadour instruction manuals prefer that older tunes be used for some types of song.
This was a study that was too much for an hour's class. It could easily fill a dissertation (actually, several of them). I recommend the Musical Borrowing Bibliography as a resource. Though many of its 1800+ citations cover modern music, there's plenty on medieval/renaissance works as well.
Shakespeare made fun of the contrafacting of Greensleeves by Mistress Ford's comment about Falstaff:, whose words, "do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves." (Merry Wives of Windsor II.i.62) She may not approve, but contrafact was a way of life for musicians in period.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Medieval Music You Already Know

In preparation for Rokeclif hosting Bardic Madness, I led a class on period music. Many of the songs we sang during the wintertime celebrations have their roots in the middle ages. A few examples:
The tune used for "Good King Wenceslas" was published in a sixteenth-century collection with the words, "Tempus adest Floridum", a carol for spring. These words appear in Carmina Burana, a thirteenth-century collection.
The tune of Greensleeves was used in 1642 as a New Year's carol before it became "What Child is This?"
"Good Christian Folk Rejoice" was sung by a circle of dancing angels in the fourteenth century with the words, "In dulci Jubilo"
The "March of the Three Kings" that Bizet used in L'Arlesienne was a mid-thirteenth century crusaders' hymn.
"Of Parental Love Begotten" may have the oldest pedigree. Its tune is a plainsong melody found in manuscripts as early as the tenth century. The words, "Corde Natus ex Parentis", are from a poem by Prudentius, written in the fourth century.