First Music Swap and ‘Shop

Fri Aug 19, Special Report – Bardic Circle last night was a HUGE success! True was expecting maybe 15-20 people to show up, and maybe only a third to have actually brought music with them to share with the group. The theme or idea behind the evening was to host both a workshop on how to sing and perform plus a music swap to teach one another our favorite songs.

One of the reasons I have not sung or performed very often in our middle ages re-enactment group is that I just don’t *know* any songs from that period in history, or I can’t seem to remember any I’ve learned along the way. And since I never performed in any Renaissance Faire circuits, I also have not been exposed to the great vast bulk of folk music available, much of which is from our “period” of study, from 1600 and earlier in primarily Western Europe.

It turns out, as many of us were chatting afterwards, that some people have not participated in things like “Madrigals” or other singing venues because frankly they didn’t think they could sing.

All of us sang last night! And it sounded marvelous!

True started us off with (what I considered to be a very well prepared) workshop for thirty minutes on the nature of singing in the society, going walking about until all hours night after night at camping events, or just the nature of people’s fear of public performance. He then went into how to get sound to resonate in your whole body, how to breathe fully, and got us up and stretching and breathing and singing. Also, he had us making silly ridiculous noises, just to get over the awkwardness of not singing (and potentially making silly noises).

Then, we learned *how* we were going to learn all these songs everyone brought with them. In a call-and-response manner, the “teacher” of the moment would first sing at least one chorus and one verse. Then they would sing the first line, we’d sing it back to them, then the second line, then sing it back to them, etc. Once we’d learned the chorus one line at a time we’d repeat the call-and-response in two-line chunks. Then we’d all sing the chorus together. Repeat this all with one verse.

Most of the songs had lots of verses, and the same repeated chorus over and over. So we actually got very well practiced at both the teaching and learning method by the end of the evening. True started us out with the only music of the entire evening that I already knew, “Rose, Rose, Rose, Red” or “Hey Ho, Nobody Home” or a myriad of other ways people recognize the round. We learned to sing about four verses and even one descant (the high solo part that can wind above the song), and then we learned to sing all of them at once, in a round. It was a powerful, wonderful, beautiful experience, and even more exciting since it was the first song of the night.

True’s folk song mentor, Janet, also attended and brought a song to share. Lynn had an old English song about “bonny Charlie” being wisked away in the middle of the fighting. And Mara had an amazingly beautiful voice *happy sigh*…. Oh! Hm, what was her song? Now I’m blanking. I just remember that if I were to learn to sing Gaelic songs and stories and sagas, I’d want to learn to do the vocal ornamention that she did. Wow, it was beautiful!

Brian and Morgana and I taught the group a short round that is quite bawdy, and is one of my favorite’s from Sean’s Bawdy Songs book. Selene had a heart-breaking song from a Fool in the King’s court. And Morgana brought Karnna’s most famous bawdy song, which was a delight to learn and a treasure to get a copy of all the lyrics. I look forward to memorizing many of the songs from this night so that I can share them at events in the future.

Afterwards, our only suggestion to True was, “Do it again! Do it again!” There were easily 22-25 people there, throughout the night. And half those who attended had brought music to share. We haven’t even exhausted the songs we brought along so far. So I think we’ve convinced him to do this monthly, maybe with different hosts or locations, but please do it monthly. It was wonderful fun, great singing, great friends, actually several *new* friends, and some great lyrics to put in my brand new (still need to start one) notebook of songs for this group.

After we had all cleaned up the Rec Room, several of us went back to Mara’s and True’s place to have tea and coffee, more snacks, and lots more socializing. It was great relaxing fun, even though I let time slip away from me and didn’t get on the road until 1:30 am. But after a nap in my car, I got home safely by 5:30 or so. Now I’m up, dressed, and ready to spend the day with more friends in funny clothes. *grin*

3 thoughts on “First Music Swap and ‘Shop

  1. Betty says:

    Sounds like a wonderful folk sing! We did something similar at the Starcher/McGlothlin reunion on Sunday. They had a music fest with many Starcher cousins playing the dulcimer, violin, recorder, mandolin and guitar. There were some solos and group songs and a sharing of each other’s talents & crafts. It was a real hoot… maybe why they used to call them “hootnannies” in the 60’s! It poured down rain, but we were snug in a big tent with oil lamps and 8-10 picnic tables and LOTS of food until the sun came out again! You’d have loved it!

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