What do you know anyway?! Songs you know.

We all know a bard or other accomplished performer that is really good at what they do. But whether you have considered jumping knee deep into the bardic scene or not, Im sure you have seen all kinds of opinions on how you should do it.

I know Sophia the Orange would slap my hand here, but I consider myself a baby bard, so take what follows with a grain of salt. Since there are many others more appropriate than I to school the great unwashed in how to do what they do, I have a specific question:

Do you try to memorize all your pieces?

Despite those hazy ‘misspent’ fun days in the 80’s that wrecked my memory, I try very hard to find songs that have legs, and commit them to memory. Part of the reason I try to memorize, is that I love to move around and interact (no I’m not Italian). I need to engage the audience and try to project as well as entertain. The songs I tend to perform usually run afoul of ‘period’ and are bawdy. Some of the stand up I’m working on is bawdy, but at least that is period ;p

I think it is important, like a DJ, to be able to see and interact with the audience to see where their preferences may lie, who are the people you can interact with. Who are the people you can get to sing a little louder when you notice they know the chorus etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I know ‘Book Bards’ who play mostly from books. This makes them no less effective, and opens their repertoire to an extent Ill never achieve. I love hearing songs I haven’t heard in a long time, if ever!

If you are someone who memorizes songs, does your song list grow and grow forever? There is a bard that stops by our camp every year it seems at Pennsic, and he knows all the songs by heart it seems (me, in awe). Im amazed that someone can know so much, though I shouldn’t be given the amount of 80’s songs I know by heart.

In the end it may all come down to charisma, engagement, timing, luck, whether there is water on Mars, etc… Perhaps I need to swap out my 1980 with 1480.

As a closer, I’ll leave something I like to say just here….

“It isn’t the best voice, it’s the voice thats heard”


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Cameron de Grey

Archery, Combat Archery, Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Near Eastern Music, Bardics

One thought on “What do you know anyway?! Songs you know.”

  1. Yes, because I, too, was taught in Mundania that you need to have the piece memorized so you can interact with the audience whilst performing. I do have a book or two in camp at Pennsic to refresh some of those songs you only trot out rarely, and a list of songs with the opening line to jog my memory. I know people who perform from books, and they are some of the most wonderful bards in the known world, but it’s not my style. Yes, I have a ton of songs rattling around in my brain. I also have a notebook to write down things I need to remember, because unless it’s a song or having to do with my line of work, I am hopeless, especially with names and faces. I tend to remember folk at bardic circles by things like that nice young lady from the East who does a rendition of a particular song that just melts me every time.

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