Bardic Madness XXII

Bardic Madness XXII — Sing till the cows come home

(and other turns of phrase)

The Shire of Rokeclif was delighted to host the twenty-second incarnation of Bardic Madness, Northshield’s  premiere event for the performing arts. It was held on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the fabulous Days Hotel and Conference Center on French Island in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.King Gambrinus

Participants took part in numerous bardic challenges (see below),  classes (see below), and a long night of revelry. The cows are reputed to have come home around 3:30 AM.  If you haven’t been to a Bardic Madness, there’s a bit of an explanation of some of our esoteric vocabulary below under “schedule”.

The catered feast was delectable.

For the entrée we had a choice of :
Boeuf a la Ragout — Beef braised slowly with red wine and root vegetables  – or – Roasted chicken with garlic and walnut sauce, which was served with

  • Benes yfryed – fried green beans with garlic and onions
  • Ris engoule – rice seasoned with saffron
  • A sallet of mixed field greens with mint vinaigrette
  • Celtic shortbread

Kids loved the mini burgers and home-made mac & cheese served at Heroes Bar & Grill.


Who was in charge here?

Provost of Bardic Madness — Mistress Eithni ingen Talorgain  (baronesseithni at yahoo  dot com)   cell: 608 628-7782.
Contact Eithni with questions about patronage, classes, and other program-y things.

Autocrat of Bardic Madness — LadyBronislàva of the Shattered Seax  (zvpeyronne at yahoo dot com)  Phone (messages welcome) 608 785-3107.
Contact Bronislavá with questions about the site, the feast, requirements, loaner garb, and the need for more cowbell.

Kudrun managed preregistration, the website, and keeping Bronislava alive as she entered as many as two craft stores per day.


 The Schedule


Friday evening

We had access to the Sky Harbor Room, just off the lobby, for a pre-revel.  If you’re staying over, drop in and get warmed up for the Madness. A few snacks would be welcome, or you could stop at Heroes for a drink to keep your whistle wet.  Troll will be open to save time in the morning.


8:30AM                            Site officially opens.  The Gate will be in a room called “The Greenery” by the hotel, but we’re renaming it “Anonymous Agora” in honor of the most prolific composer of the middle ages.  The Agora is a room for the populace to gather, for children to escape to for a cry, or for writers to concentrate.    Performances will all take place in “Chaucer’s Chancery”.

9:30 – 11:00                   Fyt* 1

11:00AM-12:00PM       Class I

12:00-1:30 PM              Lunch**

1:30-3:00 PM               Fyt 2

3:00-4:00 PM                Class period II

4:00-5:30PM                 Fyt 3

5:30-6:30PM                 Meeting of the Northshield Bardic College.  Also Catch-up or Free Play

6:30 PM                         Fyt 4/Feast

Post-Revel – On Site!  We have the whole complex until they start setting up for breakfast.  Sing**** until the cows come home.


* What’s a fyt?   It’s a chunk of time defined not so much by minutes or hours, but by an activity that fits in it.  Each fyt contains two or three Challenges***.

**  There’s an excellent restaurant (Heroes Bar & Grill) on site. Quillens is a grocery next door to the site. Fast food places abound on the next exit east.

***What’s a challenge?  You might think of a challenge as sort of a “theme” for a performance.  Sometimes the challenge is to write in a particular style (like a sonnet or a murder ballad ) or about a particular subject (like chivalry, or love, or horses or Northshield).  Sometimes the challenge is to do something authentically medieval — other times it may be to use a Broadway showtune. Some challenges require participants to think on their feet, like the ensemble tale, in which the storyteller shifts at the whim of a director. Other challenges may be prepared and rehearsed before the event.  One thing a challenge is not — it is never a competition. No one is being judged in the challenges.  Rather, we try to provide a “bardic safe zone” in which people can feel free to experiment and try new things.  You win by participating — or by providing an attentive audience for others to try on a new style and see if it fyts*****.

**** “Sing” is shorthand for any performance art. Bardic Madness includes poetry, storytelling, instrumental music, juggling, mime, dance… as long as we remember that it’s a family-friendly environment.

***** Are puns allowed at Bardic Madness?  Hmmm.  Is it ok to footnote a footnote?


Bardic Madness XXII Challenges – Figures of speech


Fyt the First:

Ensemble Tale:
From among the participants, lined up together, the patron will “conduct” the story by pointing to the person whose turn it is to continue the tale at various times! You might get pointed at multiple times, so be ready!
Originator:   Anonymous            Patron: Mikey

Rede me this
Riddles represent the metaphor at the instant before it becomes a commonplace.  Think of two things, one of which is natural and the other of which is period and made or fashioned. Write a riddle that describes one pretending to be the other.
Originator:   Owen Alun        Patron: Owen Alun (in absentia)

The Language of Music
Sometimes the most profound communication can be that which is without speech at all. Play a song on an instrument, either by itself or as accompaniment to yourself or someone else, where the instrumental music is a critical component of the piece. Alternatively, sing a song where the singer(s) voice(s) emulate a musical instrument.
Examples– Eliane’s Three Words, Berwyn’s Drum Song
Originator:   Eithni                             Patron:  Berwyn

Are You SO, or Are You Only LIKE So?
Metaphor and simile are used extensively throughout literature as a simple way to draw comparisons between things and paint a picture for the audience. Present a work that uses metaphors or similes to make your point.
Originator:   Eithni                                                  Patron:  Freydis

Class Period I


Fyt the Second:

Sing Until the Cows Come Home
Even if you were as blind as a bat, you’d know that English is chock full of animal-related idioms. So, control the ants in your pants, get busy as a bee, and regale us with a piece that incorporates animal-related idioms for an effect that’s just the cat’s meow.
Origin: The Buzz of the Hive              Patron:   Rose Marian

Voices of Northshield, Sing to the Crown
A synecdoche is a figure of speech where a word for a part is used to represent the whole or where a word for the whole represents a part. Alternatively, a synecdoche can be when a word for a general concept is applied to a specific case or vice versa. Present a piece (song, poem, or short story) that makes use of synecdoche.
Originator:                                                     Patron: Gwyneth

Authenticity’s Delight:
The play of words and careful construction of phrases was well valued throughout the period we study in the SCA. Perform an original piece (yours or someone else’s) composed in a period style or perform a piece documentable to SCA period. Plan to briefly introduce the piece by saying what style it is in, and from when and where.
Originator: Ysolt Pais du Cuer                Patron:  Cnut

 Class Period II

Fyt the Third:

Word Salad
rovided with twenty-two words or short phrases (available the day of the event from the Provost), incorporate all of them – nicely dressed and garnished – into a poem, song, or other short work.
Origin:   Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of Bardic Madness History              Patron:  Brilliana 

Making the Dumb to Speak
People often personify their pets, their belongings, or even places. Prosopopeia is the technique of presenting a work from the point of view of an imaginary person, an animal, or an inanimate object. Present a work where you give a voice to a usually silent character.
Originator:  Eithni                    Patron:  Kudrun

Two Heads Are Better Than One
In language, each part of speech has a role to play, but they are limited in what they can convey alone. The richness of language comes from the infinite ways parts of speech, figures of speech, intonation, connotation, and denotation all interact and play off one another. Present a piece (short scene, song, dance, etc.) where two or more artists interact to create a more spectacular performance.
Originators:  Bronisláva and Eithni           Patrons:  Bronislavá and Cybele

Petrarchan Sonnet Challenge
Petrarchan sonnets were usually praise sonnets that made use of hyperbolic comparisons to glorify their subject and often made use of a conceit – an extended metaphor that reached throughout the poem. Compose and present a poem written in the format of a Petrarchan sonnet. (A class on this topic was taught on site)
For example:
Originator:     Francesco Petrarca                        Patron:  Ingus

Fyt the Fourth (Feast Fyt):

Blow someone else’s horn
Perform the work of some other SCA person, either as tribute to someone who could not be with us at the event, or to show off the work of a friend who is there. Extra applause for memorizing or for performing something that is not well-known. We’ll have a special chair up front for the author of your piece, if they are in attendance, to be recognized for their work!
Originators: Ysolt and Dahrien     Patron: Eliane

Bard Scribe Illuminator – You’re so punny
From canting arms to grotesque drolleries, illuminations and illustrations often comment on the texts they accompany. Compose, calligraph, and illuminate a text on any topic where the images are used to make visual puns or jokes on the accompanying text. This may be done individually or as a team. Extra applause given for performing the piece, too!
Origin:  This is another classic challenge      Patron: Elizabeth

Home Is Where the Heart Is
In Northshield we value our homeland and many of our songs celebrate it. Present a song that sings the praises of Northshield, your local group, or some other place you consider home. If you are composing a new piece, try to incorporate figures of speech, either those featured today or others. Be prepared for gentles to join in if you present a well-loved selection!
Originator: Eithni            Patron: Shava

The Classes


Class Period I — 11:000 AM – 12:00 PM

Music in Medieval Manuscripts
Teacher:  Mistress Margaret Malise de Kyrkyntolaghe
A slide show featuring twelfh-century illumination and its “flowering” in Italian white-work.

Fitting Your New Words to An Old Tune
Teacher:  Master Dahrien Cordell
How to get them to scan without using violence

Petrarchan Sonnets
Teacher:    Master Ingus Moen
Come learn how to construct a Petrarchan sonnet… Then you will have the opportunity to share your creation during the third Fyt!

 Class Period II — 3:00 – 4:00 PM

Music in Medieval Manuscripts
Teacher:  Mistress Margaret Malise de Kyrkyntolaghe
A “drop-in-and-work” time, with inspiration from the masters.

Reading Between the Lines
Teacher:   Jose Sao Pacian
The basics of how to read and write music.  Preserve your songs for others to read and learn, and learn to read the songs others write.  We will cover basic intervals, note lengths and modes.

 Replay, Reuse, Recycle: Contrafacta in Period
Teacher:  THL Kudrun Pilegrim
Not just another filking class. Learn how it was done in period.