Populace in Focus today features King’s Bardic Champion Master Morien MacBain and Queen’s Bardic Champion, The Honorable Lady Maggie Rue.
Could you give a little background about how and when you started performing as part of the Bardic Arts community?
Morien: I found the SCA back in ‘86. The very first event I went to, in what is now Ballachlagan, had a bardic circle, like pretty much all events did in those days. Lord, they were fun! Lots of Irish rebel music, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Con filk, dirty puns, blood, and iron stuff. Pure joy! The bards that had the greatest impact on me back then were Donnan the Solitary and Morgan Caer Graeme. I learned a great deal from them and miss those performances and those songs.
Maggie Rue: In the SCA, this was really my first performance. While I have hung out around a few Bardic circles among households and groups, I generally don’t sing; it occurred to me at the onset of this competition that I may not need to. Surprise!
What types of Bardic arts performances do you enjoy doing?What is your most / least favorable type of performance?
Morien: I’m still primarily a bardic circle guy. I like the informality of it, the lack of pressure, the faces in the firelight, the willing audience, and the “renao” (which is a wonderful Mandarin word for the noise, happy chatting, laughter, and activity of life happening that forms a backdrop to a performance). My least favorite would have to be live bardic competitions. You usually only get to do one piece, impostor syndrome kicks in, and my will to compete is safer if the other person is wearing armor! If I’m going to fight to win, I want it to be with weapons, not a bit of my heart.
Maggie Rue: Not a great singer and my improv skills are more action-related than a lot of speech. So, I’d go with memorizing an old poem or writing a new one and reciting it as first and foremost. Least favorite would be improving a song. I could be wrong though—enough immersion into a subject and I might get better. We’ll see.
Have you done any type of performance arts outside of the SCA?
Morien: Sure! I sang in the church choir for years when I was in middle and high school, which was the best vocal training I’ve had. I did the school musical every year, plus summer theater, which were usually musicals. I’ve sung in a few bars, once on a tiny stage where Patsy Cline sang when she was starting out. That felt like a church. No one threw anything. I’ve done poetry slams in clubs a couple times. Now I am a high school English teacher, so a lot of my work is essentially storytelling to a tough audience!
Maggie Rue: Yes, indeed. I performed for a time as a character in Jesus Christ Superstar in Middletown NY for a couple of years, doing chorus parts and dancing. I’ve done a number of high school performances as well. During my years as a Game Designer, I ran the convention circuits and had to talk up game products—spiels, really—and became really good at impromptu game sessions. In addition, my parents were both members of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society and I went to a number of music Festivals in my early years… You’d be surprised as to how many SCA songs I’ve heard before in other places in different interpretations.
How much time do you spend researching bardic performances and practicing in preparation for doing a performance?
Morien: Most of my research for the last few years has been on the poetry side of my bardic practice. I work in a wide variety of forms from different periods and cultures, so there is always more to learn! However, I don’t really practice singing enough. I have a playlist of songs I am working up and sing along with it in the car. I have attempted to learn the hard, and suck quite badly at that. I should learn to drum much better, so I could accompany myself on a bodhran. I think I’ll get to work on that…
Maggie Rue: Given this was my first real SCA-based performance, I took two weeks to prepare.
What SCA events / Bardic competitions have you performed in previously and what types of performance did you do?
Morien: I’ve done bardic circles all over, and I’ve taught classes on writing poetry at SCA Fifty Year, Pennsic, AEthelmearc Academy, and Atlantia University. I’ve done “Music in the Key of D”, a bardic contest hosted by the Chalk Man Pub at Pennsic a few times. I also sing battle hype songs with fighters while we are on our way to the battlefield at Pennsic to get our blood up. On these former occasions, I find you seldom go wrong with Irish or Scottish rebel music, or filthy rugby songs.
Maggie Rue: This is it.
When you chose to participate in the Quest to be Sylvan Bard, did you do a type of performance that you have done before, or did you come up with a completely new performance?
Morien: I broke out two I had written before, “The Green Fields of Pennsic”, and “The Ballad of Big Bad Jehan”. Both are staples of the campfire music I like.
Maggie Rue: So, I took a number of courses in college that were medieval in nature and “Chaucer” was one of them. The teacher insisted we learn a number of lines in Middle English, taking out his personal recordings from the library to learn the lilts and rhythms. Seventeen years later, I still hear his voice. What I performed for the competition was longer than what he had us memorize, though, so I had to go find some recordings on which to base my own performance.
How did it feel to do a performance via the online community versus doing a live performance at an event?
Morien: I loved it! I liked that I got to strike and vanish like Zorro and could just focus on what I was doing. The competitive side with all its nasty thoughts and lust to win did not make an appearance!
Maggie Rue: It was actually pretty comfortable.
Did you face any challenges with performing in the sylvan bard competition?
Morien: Yep! I am a goofball at tech, and my performance of “Big Bad Jehan” kept turning out badly because I didn’t understand how to make my phone work, so I wound up just sending in “Green Fields of Pennsic” by itself.
Maggie Rue: None
Being one of the sylvan bards within the kingdom, can you share your plans / ideas for keeping the bardic arts alive in the kingdom during your tenure?
Morien: Heck yeah! We are looking at maintaining the practice of monthly online bardic hangouts on the first Tuesday of each month of the year starting at 8 in the evenings. Rue will be handling the tech, rest assured, although I will try to learn it as well. We’re also looking at starting a sort of “Bardic Boot Camp”, an ongoing series of classes (both online and in person) on subjects like vocal training, storytelling, playing instruments, poetic composition, and so on. We’ve already started reaching out to teachers from across the kingdom and the known world, and people seem enthusiastic! Also, I plan to start a FB group that should be an ongoing poetry writing workshop combined with a book study circle on various forms and skills from beginner to advanced. I’m working up a syllabus for it, and reaching out to established poets to participate, although the focus will be on bringing new aspiring poets into the field. So, COVID or not, we’ll be helping people along! We will also be working to ensure that live bardic circles and performances happen at in-person events, never fear!
Maggie Rue: So, there’s been talk of having a Novice Day like the one they had in the East Kingdom, which I attended, and one of the biggest beefs was that there was no Novice Bardic competition. So, we’re changing that. In addition, I’m going to incorporate Bardic Arts in my other A&S specialties, researching and performing songs that would also be of interest to the Herbal and Apothecary Guild as well as the Assassins’ Guild. Master Morien and I will continue the Bardic Competitions and we’ve got plans to get the Bardic Arts everywhere.
What advice would you give to other populace who would like to pursue the quest to be involved in bardic arts and perform in bardic arts competitions?
Morien: Come join us for the First Tuesday Onlines! Join in! If you aren’t ready, just listen for a while, and then pipe in! Join the FB groups for “AEthelmearc College of Bards”, “SCA Bardic Arts”, “AEthelmearc Arts & Sciences”, and the FB group for “Bardic Boot Camp” and “AEthelmearc Poetry Workshop”, once I get them running! Perform anywhere you can. Make a playlist of songs you want to learn and sing along with them in the car at high volume! Do NOT worry about what you sound or look like. Don’t listen to the haters. Read, listen, and watch good performances not just as an audience, but as a crafter, see what they are doing, and how they are doing it. Remember that you can learn as much from a bad performance as from a good one. A poet is one on whom NOTHING is wasted. I have a FAT list of books for you to get into if you like! LET’S DO THIS!!
More advice! Remember, your performance begins from the moment you are called, and doesn’t end until you are off the stage. Entrances and exits matter! Also, when in doubt, pretend to be slightly drunk, or more drunk than you in fact are. People like a drunken bard, and if you mess up, they will forgive you and enjoy it. Schadenfreude!
Oh, and one more piece of advice: When composing, even if you aren’t working in a purely alliterative form like Anglos-Saxon or 14th-century Alliterative Revival or something, get that alliteration in there. It’s like salt in cooking. People may not notice it, but they WILL like it!
Maggie Rue: Just do it. Get involved with everything sooner or later. I have been on a tear these past few years of just reaching out and getting involved. Look where it landed me. I don’t care if all you know are nursery rhymes: give it a try. Can’t sing? Me, neither. Let’s go learn stuff together.
Interested in participating in Populace in Focus? Find out how below:
(14th century, Anonymous; British Museum, Arundel MS 292)
By: Caleb Reynolds
Swart  smutted  smiths, smattered with smoke,
Drive me to death with din of their dints;
Such noise on nights ne heard men never.
What with knaven  cry and clattering of knocks!
The crooked caitiffs  cryen  after coal! coal!
And bloweth their bellows till their brain bursteth.
Huf! Puf! says the one; Haf! Paf! says the other;
They spitten and they sprawlen  and they spellen many spells.
They gnawen and gnashen and they groan all together,
And holden them hot with their hard hammers.
Of a bull-hide be their barm-fells; 
Their shanks be shackled for the fiery flinders; 
Heavy hammers they have that are hard to be handled,
Stark strokes they striken on a steely stock,  Lus! Bus! Las! Das! Snore  they by the row,
Such doleful a dream that the devil it to-drive!
The master loungeth a little and catcheth a less,
Twineth them twain and toucheth a treble, 
Tik! Tak! Hic! Hac! Tiket! Taket! Tyk! Tyk!
Lus! Bus! Las! Das! Such a life they lead
All blacksmiths: Christ give them sorrow!
May no man for brenn waters on night have his rest? 
Or my modern interpretation:
Dark and dirty smiths, darkened with smoke,
Drive me to death with din of their dents;
Such nightly noise no man has ever heard.
What with course cries and clattering of knocks!
The crooked cowards crying for coal! Coal!
And bend upon their bellows until their brains burst.
Huf! Puf! says the one; Haf! Paf! says the other;
They spit and scrawl and speak many spells.
Thy gnaw and gnash and they groan all together,
And hold them hot with their hard hammers.
Of a full bull-hide be their leather aprons;
Their limbs be enveloped against the searing embers;
Heavy hammers they wield that are hard to handle.
Strong strokes they strike on a steely stock,
Lus! Bus! Las! Das! Grunt them by the row,
Such a doleful dream that it drives one to the devil.
The master rests little and picks up a small hammer,
Striking them together, the lesser sounds a treble note,
Tik! Tak! Hic! Hac! Tiket! Taket! Tyk! Tyk!
Lus! Bus! Las! Das! Such a life they lead
All blacksmiths: Christ give them sorrow!
For the hissing of steaming water may no man have his rest?
 Squat and burly.  Smudged.  Lower class.  A contemptible or cowardly person.  Calls  To write, draw, or mark awkwardly, hastily, or carelessly; esp., to write with sprawling, poorly formed letter  Blacksmith’s apron.  Small fragments or splinters, most likely used here as slag being hammered out of the metal. The line might describe how the smith’s arms are covered, rather than literally shackled.  Anvil  Here meaning snorting or grunting.  Beautiful imagery with these two lines. The master smith rest little and grabs a smaller [hammer], working in tandem with a heavy and light hammer. The lighter hammer making a higher pitch noise as it strikes.  No man may get sleep, because of these ‘brenwateres’, referring to the hissing noise as a smith cools his irons in water.
Gimpel, Jean. Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages. New York. Penguin Books, 1977.
Salter, Elizabeth. “A Complaint against Blacksmiths,” Literature and History 5 (1979): 194-215.
Schrader, Richard J. “The Inharmonious Choristers and Blacksmiths of MS Arundel 292.” Studies in Philology, vol. 104 no. 1, 2007, p. 1-12. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/sip.2007.0004.
Thorpe, Deborah. “Heated Words: The Politics and Poetics of Work in ‘A Complaint against Blacksmiths,'” Parergon 32 (2015): 77-101.
Image from Arundel 292 f. 72 Detail of marginal pointing finger. Devotional miscellany, including the Creed in English, a bestiary, Apollonius of Tyre (ff. 41-61); Henry of Sawtrey’s De purgatio Sancti Patricii (ff. 73-88) see picture here
Getting tired of these cold and wintry weekends without boisterous SCAdian companionship? Join Their Majesties King Gareth Kincaid and Queen Juliana Delamere, the illustrious Sylvan Bards, and bards from around the Known World and the Kingdom for an evening of fellowship, song and story, and the announcement of Their Royal Majesties choice for Sylvan Bardic Champion.
Saturday the 5th of February at 7pm
Enjoy the performances, perform if you like, and compete if you can! We’ll all cheer each other on, and soak in some good old-fashioned bardic vibrancy. Vivat!
Starting January 4th, 2022, there will be monthly Virtual Equestrian Marshal Trainings. These training will be open to anyone interested in our known world.
Our virtual Equestrian Marshal in Training meetings will occur on the First Tuesday of the month at 7PM EST.
Each training session is designed to last 90 minutes, depending on questions. The monthly meetings will be posted on the SCA Equestrian Facebook page, and if possible, emails can be sent out with meeting agenda and log in information.
This virtual Equestrian Marshal in Training Program will primarily cover the SCA Equestrian Handbook, Weapon inspections, and Event / Practice planning including all required paperwork and marshal reports.
Each Kingdom will be responsible for adding additional information to this program which is specific for their Kingdom.
The Æthelmearc Equestrian Marshal in Training will be on a separate day to be announced. These virtual trainings will cover the theoretical sections of the Equestrian Marshal in Training program.
The program requires hands on sections as well. Please arrange hands on training (i.e. weapon inspection, mock authorization, organizing an event or marshaling a practice) with your Kingdom Equestrian Officer.
The goal to be is to record these trainings for future references and provide additional training videos as we move forward over the next few months.
Requirements for becoming an Equestrian Marshal in Training (EMIT):
Becoming an SCA Equestrian Marshal is not as easy as showing up and saying you want to be a Marshal.
Being an Equestrian Marshal requires a good knowledge of horses, horsemanship, riders, games and the SCA’s rules and regulations.
There are a number of steps which must be completed, under the supervision of an Equestrian Marshal (EQM) in good standing with the Kingdom, in order to become an Equestrian Marshal.
You must demonstrate your knowledge in all these areas in a defined sequence in order to be approved and warranted as an Equestrian Marshal.
1) Establish and maintain membership in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA).
2) Find an Equestrian Marshal to sponsor / train you and get another to recommend you. Both must sign your EMIT log to document this sponsorship.
3) Authorize as a General Rider and authorize to participate in Mounted Games and maintain these authorizations.
4) Approval of the Kingdom Equestrian Officer is required to become an Equestrian Marshal in Training
For more information, please visit the Facebook event page here
Come join us to teach, learn, and support the arts on DECEMBER 11th, 2021 via ZOOM.
*Student registration is NOT REQUIRED – we’re making it easier than ever to access virtual AEcademy!*
To get information, inspiration, and more, please check out this amazing event page http://aeans.aethelmearc.org/aecad-f21/, courtesy of our wonderful Kingdom Ministers of Arts & Sciences Master (and Class Coordinator for this fall’s Virtual AEcademy) Hrólfr Á Fjárfelli and Mistress Elska Á Fjárfelli, and the gracious Webminister for the Arts & Sciences website, Master Robert of Ferness!
Questions? Contact Hrólfr, Elska, or myself and we’ll be happy to answer!
Gentles of Æthelmearc! Fellow lovers of performance and performing! Greetings!
The days of strangeness and plague continue in new and varied ways, but time moves on and so must we.
We – Bran and Gavin – have had the honor and delight of serving as your Sylvan Bard (dipartite) this year, and with Their Majesties Gareth and Juliana’s ascension to the Sylvan Throne, the time has come to determine who will take up the mantle next.
While Kingdom Tradition holds that the successor to the role is chosen by competition at the Kingdom 12th night celebration, the continued pestilence means we will be without that opportunity.
SO, we will create a new opportunity in its place!
**Beginning October 7th, and proceeding through the last day of December, we will be accepting shortish (say 3-7 minutes, hard limit of 10min) performance VIDEO RECORDINGS via the Sylvan Bard email – email here. (Please send us a link to a location we can download from, like dropbox or google drive)
Song! Story! Poem! Bring us your best delightful performance in celebration of the new year, rebirth and renewal, and an eventual return to our desired ways of doing things.
We will send you a receipt email, and will curate the performances together into a 12th night concert/competition, with performances by ourselves, and your wonderful personages, from which Their Majesties will select their new Bardic Champion.
Any questions may be directed to the sylvan bard email above. Thank you, break a leg, and be well and joyful!
Welcome to the Ninth Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks Collegium, to be held online on September 10th, 11th, and 12th. We are hosted this year by the Mid-Realm’s Barony of Ayreton.
Join us for a weekend filled with classes, concerts, and bardic circles. In addition to cooking and bardic, we will also have brewing & vinting, along with instrumental & choral music classes –and more!
We encourage attendees to register on the website. Much like Pennsic, you can use your account to offer classes, suggest others, request stage time, or create your personal schedule.
The Report of the Ætherial Court of Their Sylvan Majesties Maynard and Liadain, King and Queen of Æthelmearc, Held for the Second Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney on June 26 anno societatis 56, Brandubh O’Donnghaile, Jewel Herald.
Their Majesties opened the court and welcomed and thanked all for joining the court. They spoke of how much they were looking forward to the return of in person events, and reminded all present that the Final Edition of ÆLive would air on July 16th, and that the first live event would be the Saint Swithin’s Day event on July 10, followed by Crown Tournament in Misty Highlands on August 21.
The Kingdom Ministers of Arts and Sciences, Master Hrolfr and Mistress Elska A Fjarfelli were invited into Their Majesties’ Court to speak about the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tournament. They spoke that it had been such a joy to coordinate this online Arts and Sciences Faire to allow the artisans of Æthelmearc a venue to share their works and works in progress. They thanked Master Robert Ferness, the Arts and Sciences webminister, and Lady Magdalena Txoperena, Zoom Coordinator, for all of their support in making the tournament happen
They Encouraged everyone to visit the Æthelmearc Arts and Sciences website where all of the entries and documents are hosted. They thanked the entrants: Baron Caleb Reynolds, THLady Renata Rouge, THLady Cristina inghean Griogair, THLord Sasson de Sancta Victoria, THLady Beatrice de Winter, THLady Sophie Davenport, Forveleth Dunde, Lord Cassiano da Castello, Lord Claude Duvivier, and Lady Iladria Rosati for their hard work in preparing the projects. Masters Hrolfr and Elska then thanked all of the panelist judges for taking to to review all the entries and provide live feedback to all the entrants: Mistress Abigail Kelhoge, Mistress Alicia Langland, Mistress Chrestienne de Waterdene, Baron Edward Harbinger, THLady Eleanore Godwin, Mistress Elisabeth Johanna von Flossenburg, Mistress Elska a Fjarfelli, THLady Fede di Fiore, Master FRidirkr Tomasson, THLady Glenna Cholmondeley, Master Hrolfr a Fjarfelli, Baroness Juliana Rosalia Dolce Di SIena, Mistress Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina, Master Madoc Arundel, Lady Meadbh ni Clerigh, Lady Magdalena Txoperena, THLady Maggie Rue, Baron Padraig O’Branduibh, Mistress Phiala O’Caellaigh, Master Robert of Ferness, Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh, Master Silvester Buchardt, Mistress Sthurrim Caithnes.
Their Majesties then summoned Baron Caleb Reynolds to Their Court and along with Ministers of Arts and Sciences, presented him with the prize for best documentation for his entry of Aqua Alexiteria: A Cure for the Plague. Scroll in progress based upon a text by her Majesty Liadain.
Her Majesty called forth THLady Sophie Davenport and presented her as the Queen’s Choice for her project of a Byzantine Binding Model Book. Scroll in progress based upon a text by her Majesty Liadain.
His Majesty called upon THLady Cristina inghean Ghriogair, and presented her with the King’s Token for her entry of an Embroidered Book Covers.
Their Majesties took a moment to mention the work of Forveleth Dunde who is a newcomer to the society and whose entry of a tablet woven bag strap was her first project ever to be submitted to a competition.
Kalen Karuson, known as Cricket, was called into Their Majesties’ court. Their Majesties expounded upon his skill in archery and thrown weapons and how upon both ranges he was always likely to be helping others improve their form. For this Their Majesties inducted him into the order of the Silver Alce. Scroll by the hands of Baroness Anastasie deLamoure.
Their Majesties summoned Roisin Duncan to join Their Court, and spoke of her fiber works with Kumihimo, which she describes herself as a cat playing with string. She has improved in her craft, seeking more complicated patterns, even creating new patterns of her own, and yet she is generous with her art and seeds the kingdom and baronial largess with her weavings, and so Their Majesties were pleased to Award her Arms. Scroll by Maitresse Elyse la Beef and Hatun Gulsah al-zakiyya, Text by Lord Lundardo Capriolo.
The Armiger Fuego of the Hael was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce in absentia for their blossoming skill with rapier. They were Impressed with their dedication to continually improving their skill as they served as the Rhydderich Hael’s Rapier Champion. Words and image from the The Flower of Battle of Master Fiore Friulano de’i Liberi 1409 with some additions by Zofia Kowalewska
Their Majesties then took a moment to showcase the gorgeous new cushions that had been crafted for the Sylvan thrones by Lady Avitoria Vidua. In appreciation for her fine craftsmanship to secure the comfort of Their Majesties, They presented her with a Golden Escarbuncle in absentia.
Baron Friderich Swartzwalder was invited into the court and inducted into the Order of the Fleur d’Æthelmearc for his skills as an excellent and patient teacher of history and military history of Germany, and his skills at crafting silk banners. Their Majesties invited all companions of the Fleur to take a moment to find and greet Friderich to welcome him to the order. Scroll by Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen based on Biblia pauperum, a block book c. 1470-80.
Her Majesty spoke of her deep appreciation for all of the artisans who entered the competition and called forth THLord Sasson de Sancta Vittoria and named him Her inspiration for the day and gave him a personal token for his efforts in researching and bringing together all of the various Viking motifs in order to create the Chivalry scroll for Sir Marek Viacheldrago.
Their Majesties thanked all of the scribes and medallion makers who contributed to Their court. They further thanked their staff of Their herald, Baron Brandubh O’Donnghaile, Baroness Amalie Reinhardt for running the technologies of the court, THLord Rouland of Willowbrooke for providing lighting for Their Majesties thrones, and all of Æthelmearc for signing on and joining the court. They then invited all present to stay and enjoy Æthel Chat after court.