December 16, 2010

Sestina fail!

Just when I was all ready (with my excel spreadsheet) to start writing my sestina for the afore-mentioned competition, I find out that the website for the 2011 event is still advertising last year's competition, and that no sestina will be necessary at all.  Well...eff!  I suppose it's for the best.  This was gearing up to be a dangerous sestina.

The problem is, the details for the real competition haven't been made public yet.  The only other competition I might have anything to do with in the coming weeks is on the theme of, "Perform something!  Anything you want!"  I kinda have that covered.

This is a problem because here's what I've discovered about myself as a writer - I have lots of ideas and inspiration, but I won't get anything done unless I have a deadline.  Melodies, music - that'll all happen as a matter of course, but poetry will not (reliably) be written unless I'm on a deadline.  And it's no good giving me arbitrary deadlines (as my don will tell you).  I have to have some kind of competition riding on completion by the deadline in order to get things done.

Bleh.  Does anyone want to have a friendly poetry-writing race or something?  Loser bakes cookies for the winner?  I mean I could, in theory, just buckle down and write one of the songs I've had bouncing around in my head.  But that keeps not working.  :-\

December 14, 2010

Things are proceeding all happy-like!

Already talked about last week's very enjoyable bardic night.  I have, since then, gone to an event and met up with yet another great group of musicians.  We jammed, we talked, we had a great time and I hope to see more of them.

I've also identified some competitions and displays coming up that I'd like to be a part of, if I can wangle rides to the events.  This would involve writing a sestina.  This is ambitious.  I am jazzed!

I've finished 2 out of 61 arrangements of the Folger Dowland MS, which I'll post here pretty soon.  I'd like to get some rough recordings of at least part of one first, so you can hear what they're supposed to sound like as well.  And I've pretty much decided not to arrange the fragments in the MS, so my current ratio is a little better than 2:61.  Jazzed about all this too.

And if I ever work myself up to braving the cold after dark, I'll head out to Storvik's dance practice (to play, not to dance).  One of the guys from bardic night heads that up, and it sounds like a fun group!

So.  Meeting people in a new place, playing music - all is right with the world.  :-)

December 10, 2010

As promised - bardic night...

...was a whole lot of fun!  There were a lot more instruments than I thought there would be - 2 guitars, a bouzouki, a flute and a recorder in addition to Gertrude.  It was different from other bardic gatherings I'd been to in that there wasn't a lot of going around the circle performing for each other.  It was more of a jam session - someone would start playing something, be it a song or just a lick over some chords, and we'd all just start playing right along until it came to a close.  I think this had more to do with the people there than Atlantian bardic culture, but dude - I am not complaining!  I haven't done a whole lot of jamming on the harp, and it was crazy fun!

December 08, 2010


Got Gertrude back.  Am very happy about this.  Have been playing nonstop after a month of no harping.  Anyone know what that means?  That means blisters.  Yow.

I'll be going to a local bardic night that's getting started here in the barony of Storvik tomorrow night, so I'm doing this sort of awkward tight-rope dance.  Want to practice, so I remember things tomorrow.  Want to not practice to much so the blister can heal a bit and not be distracting tomorrow.  As a result, I'm practicing veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwy quiiiiiiiiiiet!

This blog seems to have become all about pain lately!  Seems in recent posts I've got 2 references to blisters, 1 reference to phantom wrist-pain and 1 reference to mooshing my thumb down on a hot stove.  I swear I'm not constantly injuring myself on my harp, really!  It's just....pain is interesting!  Ask any fighter, they'll back me up.

Anyway, here's a promise:  tomorrow I will post about bardic night, and not about pain.  Less pain, more poetry, how's that sound?

November 07, 2010

God, I'm stupid!

D-Day - 10/23, scheduled move to Atlantia for a few months.
Prior to 10/22 - Isolde hatches brilliant schemes to safely check her dear, beloved Gertrude on the plane to Atlantia such that she will not be destroyed.  Said schemes involve pillows, duct tape and a huge, mucking rubbermaid bin.
10/22, evening - Isolde realizes that her largest rubbermaid bin is not suitably huge and mucking.  But whatever, it's only for a while, and she'll be too busy to do much harp anyway.
10/23 - Isolde flies to Atlantia.  Gertrude does not.
11/7 - Isolde vows never again to go anywhere for more than a week without her harp.

Kids - it's like my fingers itch!  I'm going stir-crazy here without a musical outlet!  I really should look into getting some kind of bardic thing going here in Storvik (not that I have any idea where that would happen, given the lack of parking at my place).  One can do bardicness without  a harp.  But it's NOT THE SAME!!!  I WANT MY HARP!!!  GARGH!!!

While it's true that I miss my husband and my kitties more, that's all somehow less irritating.  Since, y'know, I COULD HAVE BROUGHT GERTRUDE WITH ME AND DIDN'T CUZ I WAS DUMB!!!  Anyway, said sorely missed husband will restore her to my restless fingers over Thanksgiving.  *twitch*  And in the meantime, I seriously will figure out some kind of SCA music outlet or I really will go nuts.

October 01, 2010

John Dowland for Harp

It seems that during the medieval and renaissance periods, there was a good deal of crossover between the lute and the harp.  Lute/harp was a popular duet pairing, and a piece published in 1546 (Alonso Mudarra's "Fantasia que contrahaze la harpa en la manera de Ludovico") draws a comparison between the harp and, in this case, the vihuela (a more guitar-like relative of the lute).

Given this, it seems that early lute repertoire would be a very reasonable place to look to fill the gaping void that is our collection of early harp music (it just hasn't survived, folks, and that sucks).  So I've embarked on a new project (yeah, I'm still working on those other ones, they're going fine).  I've just started transcribing a collection of John Dowland's lute pieces for harp.  It's the Folger manuscript, and according to the Folger library it was recorded by Dowland himself between the years 1594 and 1600, which makes it oh-so-suitable for the SCA.

I'm arranging it for lap-harp, of course.  My harp has 22 strings and no levers - harps in Dowland's period had up to 26 strings and no levers, so my transcriptions will be faithful to what a harp-playing contemporary of Dowland's would have played in those respects, at least.  I'm tackling "Frog Galliard" first, and this one I'm practicing up while I transcribe it (although I'll play through all of them to make sure they work, I'll only practice up the best ones - there are 61 pieces in the MS!).  Here's David Taylor playing it on the archlute:

I'm so pleased with this music so far - it's so much fun to play!  I think this collection of transcriptions, if it keeps going well, could be a valuable contribution to the small-harp repretoire out there.  There's not much out there for small harps (particularly without levers), and what there is frankly is not that technically challenging.  The songs in the Folger MS range from fairly simple to blisteringly difficult with many many levels in between.  And there's a duet!  This will give more advanced players something to keep them interested, beginning players something to work through as they progress and damnit, it'll show the world that serious classical music can be played on the small harp!  It was in period!  Why the hell aren't we doing it anymore???

September 10, 2010

Dreaded Wrist Pain

If you're a musician (or a fighter, or a knitter, or a tennis player, etc...), you know how alarming wrist pain can be.  You start to notice a dull achey stripe down the center of the inside of your wrist, and the first thing that pops into your head is "OMG CARPAL TUNNEL!!!  I'LL NEVER PLAY THE HARP/SWORD/NEEDLES/RACKET AGAIN!!!"

This is usually not the case.  Normally, after a short freak-out, I just take this as a sign that I've been practicing too much and my wrist is tired.  I put the harp down for a day or two, and when I pick it back up, I concentrate on playing with a nice, healthy technique (WRISTS STRAIGHT!).  Some people will wear wrist braces for a while to make sure they're not torquing their wrists doing some other random thing.  This is smart.

So yesterday, I noticed the tell-tale wrist pain.  "WTF?" I thought, irritated.  "I've been living in unpacking-new-house-land for the past week!  I haven't touched my harp OR my needles OR my rapiers for at least that long!  Unfair!"  Seriously, the unpacking hasn't even been of the heavy-lifting variety.  By the end of the day, the pain was shooting all the way up to my shoulder.  So not cool.

So here's a tip for people who have alarming, unexplainable wrist pain - examine how you sleep!  Turns out I was sleeping on my side with my bottom shoulder thrust forward underneath me and my arm curled up around me with my wrist hooked around my neck.  It was ugly.  Trying to find another comfortable way to sleep was uglier.  But hey, now my wrist feels fine!

It's something most of us don't think about, but really - when you spend 8 hours every night ganking the buhjeezus out of your wrist, good harp technique will only get you so far.  And if you sleep as hard as I wish I did, try wearing wrist braces to sleep one night, and see what it won't let you do.  It's enlightening.

September 06, 2010

What's Isolde working on?

I'm too uninspired/buried in unpacking (just moved!  w00t!) to dredge up a focused or, like, y'know, interesting post, but I'm going to post sort of a generic "no really, I'm not just slacking" update mostly to keep myself feeling like I'm getting somewhere.  Right.

So what's Isolde working on?

Three Words:  This is a song by Mistress Eliane Halevey from Northshield.  It's gorgeous, it reminds me of Northshield, and I wanted to have it under my belt.  So I wrote a harp part for it, and I almost have it performance-ready.  When Eliane sings this, she has a drummer or the audience accompany her with a simple beat and sings it acapella - it works really well.  So I've incorporated that beat into the harp part, which is hella fun.  The harp part itself is meant to build in intensity as the song moves forward, and I really hope I achieved that.  Performance will tell.

Goliard:  Doña Antonia Santiago da Lagos, of Ansteorra, wrote a poem for the occasion of Master Thomas of Tenby's baronial investiture.  It stuck with me, I wanted it under my belt as an "Ansteorra" song, and so I'm setting it to music.  It's metrically similar to "Frog Goliard," so I'm making it a sort of goliard/coranto...thing.  I'm hoping to have it done by Ealdormere's coronation at the end of the month, but who knows.

Clarseach:   I have one.  It needs new strings.  I have new strings.  I need to put the strings on the harp.  And then....then, my friends, there will be hella posting, cuz I have ideas!  MBWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

I guess it's something about music and melodies - given the right words, they eventually just jump into my head.  It takes practice to get them right, but they'll happen whether I'm distracted or not.  Not so with poetry.  So when I have a lot of upheaval, like planning to move back to Atlantia while moving to a new house in Ealdormere, it seems that poetry takes a back seat.  I miss it, though.  I'll try to set aside some time to get something written before I head back South.

August 04, 2010

Remember that motet I was working on?

So I was working on a motet, right?  And I was really jazzed about writing my first motet, but when it was all done, I couldn't shake the feeling that it  It sounded good, just....wrong.  I'd paid attention to form, and I thought I was being so clever with the chords, keeping them period, not resolving on thirds and stuff.  And for all that, it still came out sounding like a freaking act closer to a Boublil and Schönberg musical.  Aaaaaaaand, here's why:

That's right, I wrote a freaking 4-chord motet!  The chords themselves are all plausibly period, it's the chord progression that's completely absurd.  My motet has the same chord progression as freaking Lady Gaga - and eleventy-billion other songs, none of which were written when people were actually like, writing motets all the time for serious.  GARGH!!!

Anyway, this is where I need help from you friendly folks out in internet world, and if you're reading, I really hope you'll chime in.  For a person who's unapologetically focused on authenticity in her bardic work, would performing this in the SCA be completely laughable or what?  I really am smack on the fence about this.  Part of me thinks it was a good first shot at a motet and I should go for it, but part of me is like, "Really?  A 4-chord motet? Really?"

Y'know, if it were someone else asking my opinion, I'd wholeheartedly encourage them to sing it and be proud of the effort, the lesson learned and the sound of the final product.  All of my songs have anachronisms that I only learned about after writing them - that's unavoidable.  You can get more and more authentic with each song and each lesson learned, but there will always be something new to learn that exposes a mistake in your previous work.  That doesn't mean your previous work is bad or shouldn't be performed.

But dude, this is a smack-your-audience-in-the-face kind of mistake.  It's like shredding on a lute.  And I really don't want to be all, "This is a motet!" to people who don't know any better and then sing a FREAKING 4-CHORD ATROCITY!!!  Even (perhaps especially?) if it sounds good.

Anyway, it's all a wash unless I can find a really strong tenor to sing it with, so it may be a non-issue.  The best tenor I know lives in Northshield, and I don't know anyone here in Ealdormere.  Yet....

June 23, 2010

My callus is a mighty callus

This is harp-related and bears posting about.

Yesterday, like a dumbass, I was making tea (making tea isn't a dumbass thing to do, I was just being a dumbass while making tea, as you'll see).  I turn the back burner on - the one with the kettle sitting on it.  Then (and mind you, it's like 7am), I think to myself, "Hey, the front burner's all sticking up and out of it's little burner-socket.*  I'll just nudge that back down."  So I put my thumb on the front burner.  And push.  And, of course, it turns out it was not the back burner that I'd turned on.  *sigh*

So I had this nice, painful burn-stripe on my thumb right where the harp string goes.  I was devestated.  This would mean no playing the harp at all while it healed.  Ugh.

Like 2 hours later, I realize there's no blister, and there's not going to be a blister.  The pain was gone, the white stripe was fading, and the skin that was burned felt no different than the skin around it.  That's right - I'd burned myself squarely on my callus!  And my callus did exactly what it was supposed to - it scoffed at pain and injury.  My thumb is fine, my callus is mighty, and my stove is thwarted.

My callus > mooshing my thumb down on a hot stove.  HA!  There will be harping after all.

*That's not a typo, I think in misspellings at 7am.

June 14, 2010

How to be a Harpy - an introduction to folk harp in the SCA

This past weekend, at Atlantia's Summer University, I taught a new class on beginning harp.  It included information on harps through history, the differences between period and modern harps and basic beginning technique.  You can see the handout for the course by downloading this here PDF.  Check out the resource section in the back for more information, and if anything's unclear feel free to email me!

June 08, 2010

Where did Isolde go?

Where is Isolde going is perhaps a more apt question.  With a bright forward-looking face and sad backward glances, I left Northshield.  My husband and I have moved to Atlantia for training for new jobs - Foreign Service Officers, to seal our nomadic fate.  We thought we might be here as long as a year, and I was looking forward to getting to know the bards and fighters around here.  Turns out we'll be leaving in August.

So where are they sending us?  We thought somewhere in Drachenwald was likely, and would be nice.  Someplace on the outskirts of Drachenwald even more likely, and we wondered if we'd have the stamina to keep up any SCA involvement.  Someplace marked "here there be dragons" was even more likely - someone has to go to Chad, after all.  So where are they sending us?

They're sending us to freaking Ealdormere!  So for the next couple of years, at least, very few bets are off.  :-D

In the meantime, Aeron and I will try really hard to hit up at least a couple of fighter practices and maybe an event or two.  We'll both be teaching at The University of Atlantia this weekend.  I honestly don't know if we'll be here long enough to make friends, but I hope we do.  I'll be back here for a while when it's time for me to start training, and we'll be back at some point for DC tours someday too.

So if you'll be at the university this weekend, or know someone who will, say hi to the new girl with the harp.  That'll be me.  :-)

May 11, 2010

Bardic Bedlam

Last weekend, I made it to Calontir for their second ever Bardic Bedlam - their take on the Bardic Madness franchise.  It was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time!  The event itself was scheduled against another big-deal event, so they didn't get the turnout they'd hoped for - about half of what this year's Bardic Madness in Northshield was.  But frankly, for the second ever Bardic Bedlam, I thought it was a respectable crowd and a very comfortable size.  I didn't get any of the introvert-burnout I tend to get at big bardic events.  Everyone was engaged the whole time, everyone had fun, and performing was easy in front of this crowd (which contributed to some great performances to watch).  This has as much to do with the people as with the size of the event - I came away with such a good impression of Calontir (and this despite my admitted rapier fighter bias).  They were fun, friendly and welcoming, they throw a good party, and they're good to foreigners.

During the event, Master Owen Alun taught a class that dealt with Welsh and Irish triads.  During this class, he pointed out that a bard's first task is to listen, to observe and so the assignment he gave us was essentially to record three things we learned over the weekend.  So here are mine:

1)  The quality of a bardic venue has absolutely nothing to do with size.
2)  Culture is spontaneous - it's the way people welcome strangers, the songs that spring up in chorus around a campfire.  It's everything that comes out of the hearts and minds of a group of related individuals.
3)  Given that, culture is not something that can legitimately be enforced.

May 10, 2010

Sonnet 2: Countess of the Spring

A Sonnet for Countess Elizabeth von Kulmbach -

I have seen queens on high and distant thrones
Whose beauty, like December sunlight’s rays,
Would shame the spark and fire of precious stones,
But leave their subjects freezing in their gaze.
Yet under Northshield’s wintry, iron sky
I did not have to seek or pray for fire.
Your token for my words, your smiling eye
Some spark in me did nurture and inspire.
You, all the while, a double burden bore
With life inside, you led our land unswayed.
Your crown’s been passed, your daughter all adore,
Now Winter Queen, delight in what you’ve made.
A rosebud skipping through the court does bring
Her smile to all – our Countess of the Spring.

Notes:  I entered this in the A&S competition at my barony's May Day Moot a couple of weeks ago.  The theme was inspiration.  This weekend, around a campfire in Calontir (about which more later), people were remembering their first king and queen, and also the first king and queen who "made them believe it."  I've met and been subject to some very neat queens, but Countess Elizabeth was the first to make me believe it.  So I wrote this for her.  And as usual, documentation is available by downloading this here PDF.  Not that you need me to tell you how to write a freaking sonnet, but hey - I learned some about the nuances of Elizabethan sonnets while writing this, so it's here if you want it.  :-)

April 25, 2010


She's fixed. She's strung. She's...almost staying in tune. And after playing the loaner gothic harp for months, she sounds like a music box!

But she's so much easier to play, she's louder, she's clearer. The gothic harp tended to be muddy much lower than Gertrude's range. Her extremely loose strings made it impossible not to buzz on some sections (though the string spacing is the same as on Gertrude), and she was fiendishly difficult to tune precisely. I was afraid I'd miss the lower notes when I switched back to Gertrude, but my songs were composed on Gertrude, and they still sound a lot better on her (some, like "Beer is for Girls," just didn't work on the gothic harp at all).

Here are some quick and dirty clips of the same bit of music ("Rose Round") played on the same set of strings on each harp, so you can hear the profound difference (and isn't she pretty down there?).

Oh, it's good to have my harp back!  That said, Aeron's working on a gothic harp of his own, and I can't wait to see how she turns out!  If her sound is as warm and complex as this gothic harp's sweet spot, without the structural problems that make her difficult to tune and play, that will indeed be a yummy harp!  But I and my songs are very happy to have Gertrude back.

April 22, 2010


Hello, everyone!  This is just a quick note to say that I've discovered the most disconcerting thing in the entire world!  When you're stringing a harp for the first time, and bringing her slowly and painstakingly up to tune, to hear her groan...and then POP....and visibly twitch as the neck and pillar settle into their joints under the new tension.  It's like......guh.  It's like when your knee pops unexpectedly in a really unnerving way when you kneel down, only it's a harp.  A harp that you've heard explode before.


April 17, 2010

Early Music Cage Fight: Sephardic v Celtic! FIGHT!!!

A friend of mine here in Northshield, Mistress Eliane Halevy, wrote an absolutely gorgeous song based on a Sephardic tune.  It's called "Three Words" (link leads to a YouTube link of her performing it).  Normally, she gets a drummer in the audience (or the entire audience) to accompany her with a simple beat, and sings it otherwise unaccompanied.  In my arrangement, I'm drumming on the sound box of my harp with my right hand and playing the strings with my left hand.  It's taking some getting used to (not a drummer!), but I looooooove iiiiiiiit!  Specifically, I'm completely carried away with texture and gorgeous, unusual scale the melody's written in (and, of course, being carried away by Eliane's words was what got me started on this project in the first place).

SO!  I was having a great time drumming along with myself.  "Hm," I thought.  "Drums are cool.  We have a bodhran here.  Hm."  Although bodhrans are a common sight at SCA events, I've suspected for a while that they might be just another "neo-Celtic" thing that people figure must be ancient for no better reason than "it's Irish, isn't it?  And the druids were ancient, so there ya go!"  Couldn't find much that traced it back any further than its being popularized in the '60s.  Yeah.

Then I found this really cool article on the etymology of the word "bodhran" that's made me think, "Alright, we'll never know details for sure, but there was definitely some bodhran-drum-thing in period, and....HOLY CRAP THE HISTORY OF CELTIC MUSIC IS TOTALLY COOL!!!"

So.  Who will be the next to wrest Isolde's attentions away from the troubadours?  The ancient Sephardic Jews or the ancient Celtic probably-not-druids?  FIGHT!!!

April 14, 2010

A Tomboy's Lament

Though I'd to manly skills convert,
I cannot fight, for I can't sew.
I've dresses, but no linen shirt,
Though I'd to manly skills convert.
I fear more than my pride might hurt
To fight with cotton skirt below.
Though I'd to manly skills convert,
I cannot fight, for I can't sew.

Notes:  A triolet lamenting one of life's bitter ironies.  I thought I'd already posted this, but apparently not.  :-)

April 13, 2010

War: what is it good for?

Payin' the bills and not much else, if the Landsknechte are to be believed.

Wolfgang Roth's album "Early German Ballads," available through the Smithsonian Folkways label, includes several Landsknecht songs, in addition to other songs from the German Peasants' Revolt of 1524-1526.  They're not what you'd expect from a stone-cold mercenary singing about war - no guts and glory here, no reveling in violence, but a sense of profound weariness.  Here's an example from the CD:  "Lied Alter Landsknechte."

 Wir alten Soeldner von der hohen Wart'
Wir hab'n all ein eisgrauen Bart
Wir alten Soeldner sind mied und matt
Und haben schon lang' das Kriegsspiele satt.
     Ein eisgrauer Bart
     Ein Panzer von Erz
     Doch tief in der Brust
     Ein blutendes Herz.
     Jung Volk nemm acht
     Dass man Euch nit zu Landsknecte macht.
Uns alte Soeldner von der hohen Wart
Uns blieb im Leben kein Sturmwind spart
Uns alten Soeldner war nit Guts beschert
Als zu kaempfen und streitten mit nem blanken Schwart.
     Ein eisgrauer Bart...

The liner notes, available as a free download, contain the full translation.  But just to give you an idea, here's the chorus:
An iron-gray beard,
Armor of metal,
But deep in the breast
A bleeding heart.
Young folks, take heed
That they don't make a Landsknecht out of you.

I like this because it's a very honest, realistic look at war, and one we tend not to emulate in the SCA.  We in the society like to glorify our sport, and we should - it's fun, and there's clearly precedent.  There are lots of songs from period that talk about the glory of battle, the visceral joy of violence.  It's easy to lose track, though, of the fact that when these people fell in battle, they didn't get back up afterward and go drink with their buddies in the Green Dragon.  Marching off to war means so much more under those circumstances, as some of our members know all too well.

So inspired in part by these war-weary Landsknecht songs and the story of the German Peasants' Revolt, I'm working on a song that deals with a simple peasant's reasons for going to war.  What makes war worth it to an untrained foot soldier, with no delusions of grandeur and only a vague sense of national identity, if any?

It's a motet, unfortunately.  I say unfortunately because I was inspired by an excellent polyphonic-type piece at Bardic Madness, and it stuck in spite of the fact that I don't know any motets from period that deal with these themes.  Also my motet sounds a whole lot more like Les Mis than Machaut, but what are you gonna do?  It's my first crack at polyphony.  I'm learning lots, and my next motet will sound a lot more accurate for having written this one.

April 11, 2010

Resource for Elizabethan Songs, and a fledgling bardic wiki

I just stumbled across this website, and I'm oh so glad I did!  Magic Music is a compendium of 30 Elizabethan songs with words, melodies and documentation.  Each song is documented to a primary source prior to 1600 - so you can sing these in the SCA with abandon and not worry about the authenticity snob lurking around the corner (or in your brain...if you're me).  And, if you resemble me in that respect, you'll have a great time nosing through the hefty bibliography that's included.  Big, big props to Courtney Allen Powers for putting this together!

Right, so I wouldn't have found that site if I hadn't first found this site:  A Circle of Bards.  This site is just getting off the ground, but as you can see, it's already quite useful!  It's meant to be an online compendium of SCA bardic works.  Right, there are already plenty of those, many of which are linked from the site's bardic resources page.  But I think this page has the potential to go beyond what's already out there.  The wiki format will make it possible for the song collection to be more diverse and exhaustive than other individual collections that I know of (and it's searchable!), and the forum and calendar could lead this site to be a bardic hub of sorts.  I really hope it takes off.  Big, big props to Master Niall Dolphin for putting this one together!

April 03, 2010

New Videos!

Mistress Elashava bas Riva has put a couple of new videos up on her YouTube channel, including one of me reciting "Oh how I love the springtime gay..." (this was before I'd learned the melody).  Follow the link to her channel, and you'll also find a performance by another harper, Breddelwyn ap Taliesin, as well as the Jararvellir Music Guild performing Claude Gervais' "Pavane de la Guerre."  And that's just the latest batch!  Good stuff.

March 28, 2010

Period Songs: Where to Find Them, How to Write Them

Here's the handout to the class I taught at Bardic Madness XX.  I finally got around to adding some footnotes!  :-)

To see the handout, download this here PDF.  If you find anything confusing, or would just like to geek out, email me!

March 16, 2010

Awesome Harpers Part 2: Harper Tasche

Harper Tashce is a harper and composer based in the Seattle area who specializes in small and cross-strung harps.  He's helped to promote the North American resurgence of cross-strung harps by expanding the limited repertoire and helping to establish a sound technique.  And he's contributed much-needed original compositions for small harp (I swear to God, if I have to hear "Star of the County Down" one more time...).

This is "Skua," one of his original compositions for 26-string lever harp (music begins at 3:10).  Note how the initial rhythmic freedom builds into a driving, syncopated beat over a steady left hand - it takes strength and good technique to be that even with your left hand!  I think "builds" is really the best way to characterize this song - it's got a wonderful feeling of inertia.  This is a far cry from the "plinky little chords and arpeggios" that I'm sick of hearing from folk harps.  Neither is it "pseudo-celtic muzak."  It's bright, it's interesting, it's evocative, it's original and it's what I, as a composer and arranger, aspire to.

He also plays the rennasaince bray harp, and it absolutely kills me that I can't find a clip of this anywhere!  Though primarily based in Washington State, Tasche gigs and teaches around the country.  Look for him at the Somerset Folk Harp Festival and at Harpcon late this summer.  He's recorded numerous albums and published several books of music and technique, all of which are available through his website.

March 03, 2010


Mistress Elashava bas Riva has made an ongoing project of recording bardic performances in the SCA and putting them up on YouTube (with permission from performers and authors, of course).  There are lots of good performances there, and a huge range of what goes on in SCA bardic.  I stumbled across it just as I was thinking about diving in myself, and it gave me a really good idea of what I was getting into.

Her channel is ShavaSue, and it's worth checking out.  At last weekend's Bardic Madness, she got a couple of videos from me, and I thought I'd post them here, have done it.  I cringe when I see myself filmed, but I think I'm just one of those people who will never really be happy with a recorded performance of myself.  All I can think about is what needs improving.  Anyway.  She got "Sunufatarungo" and "Aeron's Song" (with lyrics slightly tweaked to include some references from Their Majesties' favorite film).  I've put the videos on the songs' respective pages, should you be wondering what they're actually supposed to sound like.  :-)

March 02, 2010

Awesome Harpers Part 1: Patrick Ball

Patrick Ball is a Celtic harper and storyteller from California.  Inspired by the harpers and storytellers of Ireland and the oral tradition of the Appalachian region, Ball tours and records instrumental and spoken-word performances that highlight in particular the music and oral history of Ireland.

I consider him an excellent example of what one can do with a folk harp - specifically a wire strung Celtic harp, which differs significantly from gut or nylon strung harps in a number of ways.  Wire strung harps, or "clarsachs," are and have historically been played with sharpened fingernails, rather than the pads of the fingers (this feels like nails on a chalkboard to me, which is why I prefer to play on gut or nylon, though I admire the music and skill of wire-harpers).  Related to this, the strings are closer together than on a gut/nylon harp.  Because wire strings ring much longer than gut or nylon strings, the technique involves dampening the strings with the fingers as you play.  Otherwise, the sound is muddy and the notes hard to discern - like playing the piano with the sustain pedal on the whole time.  Ball has really mastered this, and plays delightfully intricate music on his harp.

His website includes sound links to previews of the music on each of his nine CDs.  His work is inspired by the Celtic bards, who also inspire many in the SCA, and about whose music we know sadly little.  His music focuses on post-period figures such as Turlough O'Carolan and skillfully performed "traditional" Irish music.

From an SCA standpoint, Patrick Ball's material, and indeed his instrument, are decidedly post-period.  Although clarsachs were consistently larger than their gut-strung, continental counterparts, they did not reach the size of Ball's instrument until well after period and were played against the left shoulder, rather than the right (we can tell from the wear patterns on extant harps - how cool is that?).  The techniques of dampening and playing with fingernails is, as far as we can tell, accurate as far back as wire strung harps go - which is to say at least as far back as 1185 CE.*  But regardless of period focus, any harper should be inspired by the skill and dexterity with which Ball plays his instrument.  He is an example of the level of skill I'd like to achieve on my harps, and anyone interested in mingling music with storytelling will find a good example in his spoken word repertoire.  

*The Norman ecclesiastic Gerald de Barri describes "bronze strings" on harps in Scotland and Wales after a visit in 1185, which means they were around long enough before then for harpers to develop a thriving tradition and a good deal of technical skill.  Kinnarid, Alison and Sanger, Keith.  Tree of Strings.  Kinmore Music:  Shillinghill, Scotland, 1992.  p 85.

February 26, 2010

Pedal Harps and Folk Harps, Harpists and Harpers

Aeron sent me this article by Wm. Rees, and I thought it was worth sharing.  I'm down with almost everything he says, except for one thing: the pedal harp is a spectacular solo instrument!  Some of the most impressive instrumental solos I've ever heard are pedal harp solos.  I challenge anyone to listen to Carlos Salzedo's "Whirlwind" or "Variations on a theme in ancient style" and say otherwise.

Although I disagree with that conclusion of his, what he says about the acoustical differences between the two instruments is spot on.  The smaller folk harps have a different, often more subtle tone that makes them the better choice for solos in which harmony and counterpoint, as opposed to sheer technical range and prowess, is the focus.  They're obviously better suited for intimate settings, and they're preferable to pedal harps for accompaniment of voice and duets with certain instruments, such as guitar, lute or recorders.  They are different instruments that are made for different music.

I learned to play pedal harps as a teenager, and before I started playing Gertrude, I absolutely fell into the ignorant mindset that folk harps were dinky little wanna-be versions of "real harps."  I now know that could not be further from the truth.  Although I still miss wrapping my body around a harp that's bigger than me and ripping the hell out of it, I'm having a great time exploring the capabilities of folk harps!

But I think part of the reason I was so ripe for that misconcpetion was that I hadn't been exposed to much really excellent folk harp, whereas I took lessons from a former student of Salzedo's.  Now granted, I still am not really a part of any folk harp "scene," and most of my very limited exposure to folk harps has been through the SCA.  But so many players of folk harps never break out of plinky little chords and arpeggios, never really explore their dynamic range.  Folk harps are cheaper, so the ratio of "beginners" to "advanced players" can be quite a bit larger than with their more expensive and commitment-demanding counterparts.

I think this is why I have a hard time calling myself a "harper" (although I do).  I realize the distinction is this:  harpers play folk harp, harpists play pedal harp.  I have no pedal harp right now, so I'm unambiguously a harper.  But somewhere deep in my prejudiced little psyche, I also associate pedal harps with big, difficult, macho technique, whereas I associate folk harps with pretty, tinkly, simple technique (in fairness, folk harp technique can be very difficult, but big and macho it aint).  Guess which association I like best?

So in an effort to break down this bias, both in my own head and in the bit of the world I can touch, I'm going to continue to try to improve my technique and to write blisteringly hard accompaniment to my songs (I've slacked on that lately, I can do better).  I'll also look into local folk harp "scenes" - there's one here in Madison, but I'll probably have to wait until I move to DC to really have time to dive in.  I'm also going to try to feature examples of really excellent and impressive harpers on my website.  This'll require some research on my part, but I think we'll start with Patrick Ball.  Stay tuned.

February 25, 2010

Bardic Madness is WHEN?????

This weekend???  In two days???  No, it's all good.

Got my class handouts copied.  I recently came into a fistfull of free copy cards, so there will be extras - oh mama, will there be extras.  I'll also post the PDF here after the event.  I'd like to go through and add some footnotes before I post it, but there wasn't going to be time before the class itself.  The class is "Period Songs:  Where to find them, how to write them."  *froths at the mouth*

Got my songs...set.  Mostly.  Alternate lyrics to "Aeron's Song" are done and memorized, and it's practiced up.  Still hoping to rework the chords on "Sunufatarungo" to something more period.  Still hoping to memorize the melody (and perhaps the lyrics as well) to "Oh how I love the Springtime gay."  Ensemble pieces practiced.  Need to practice everything (including walking through my class in my head) a few more times before I feel really good about it.

Now I just need to cook and pack food so's we don't have to eat at restaurants on the way there and back.  Cuz we are broke, broke, broke!

February 20, 2010

The Best of All Possible Loaner-Harps


This is a gothic harp.  Harps like this were the standard in Europe during the late middle ages - around the 14th through 16th centuries.  She has 24 gut strings starting an octave below Gertrude's lowest note, and she has a gorgeously complex tone!  She's quieter than my nylon-strung Gertrude, of course, but not by nearly as much as I'd expected.  Her strings are also, of course, looser than Gertrude's (gut tends to be), which is taking a bit of adjusting to - I can't rip the hell out of her in the loud bits like I did Gertrude.  She has brays, but they're so stiff and difficult to turn on and off, I'm just leaving them all off.

I was offered this by contacts through the school of music - the professor in charge of the Early Music Ensemble set it up for me, and I'm sooooooo glad he did!  Aeron should have a new neck and pillar done for Gertrude in a couple of weeks, but I think I'll keep playing this harp with the Early Music Ensemble for the rest of the semester, and bring Gertrude to events.  She's just that cool, and that period.  And so gorgeous!

D's been working on one much like this in our living room for a while now.  His will be shorter (a good thing - this one is just too large to hold in my lap the way I like to), but the same range (don't ask me how that works - I do languages, not physics).  The joinery will be better, and the brays more usable, thanks in part to having this one to look at.

I'll be at Bardic Madness next weekend, able to play all of my songs on this harp.  Even "Beer is for Girls."  I am pleased and excited!

February 13, 2010

Harp Autopsy

We were sitting there eating dinner in our dining room when from the living room, we hear a sudden "KA-POW," like all of the strings on my harp had broken at once, or like she had fallen off a table onto a tile floor.  This was somewhat bewildering, as she had been resting on her back on the carpet floor.  The picture I posted earlier is what happened - she spontaneously snapped along the neck and pillar and flew apart.

Harps are at their strongest when the grain runs long down a piece, and at their weakest when it runs out across it.  You can see that where the split happened in the pillar was where the pillar starts to curve against the grain of the maple.  In order to counteract this, Aeron builds his necks and pillars out of three layers of wood with the grains crossed, so that a weakness in the grain of one wood is strengthened by another piece - essentially building his own plywood.  Unfortunately, 14 years ago this was only the second harp Aeron had built with this particular design, and he hadn't yet settled on the grain alignment he now uses.

The bad news is this happened two weeks before Bardic Madness.  I am as much an instrumentalist as I am a singer, and I feel very strongly that musical bardic performance is many times better with instrumental accompaniment, when possible - it's more of a complete musical experience.  And I wrote my songs for Gertrude.  I don't think I can bring myself to perform my songs a cappella

The good news is Aeron thinks he can build her a new neck and pillar in time for the event.  And, if that doesn't happen, I've already had one offer from a wonderful woman in my barony to let me use her harp at the event.  So.  Gertrude will rise again.  Like the mother-effing phoenix.  And phoenix or no phoenix, there will be harping at Bardic Madness.  Oh yes.  There will be harping.

RIP Gertrude


February 11, 2010


There are two songs who's melodies I particularly wanted to take a look at - "Lai Non Par" and "Lai Markiol."  So I trot my happy self down to the library to get a copy of Hendrik van der Werf's Extant Troubadour Melodies, the seminal collection of, you guessed it, extant troubadour melodies.  Checked out.  Blast.

Far from daunted, I figured the only other person likely to have it checked out was the professor in charge of the Early Music Ensemble, and that I'd beg it off of him for a few days at rehearsal.  So I get to rehearsal, and before I can even broach the subject, he tells me about this great book he has, and would I like to borrow it.  HELL YES I'D LIKE TO BORROW IT, THANK YOU!!!  I giddily drag it home on the bus (it's rather large), eagerly crack it open, and...not there.  Blast.

Utterly betrayed by van der Werf, I turn to the internet where I find generous fragments of the melodies, which thank you I already have in books and I want THE WHOLE THING!!!  But I do find some helpful footnotes...

To make a long story short, I spent this afternoon tearing through books in three languages (one of which I actually speak) and eventually find one book devoted to both songs, containing transcribed melodies in all their complete, stemless glory.  Deux lais en langue mixte, by Dominique Billy.  Yes, I did a geeky little end-zone dance there in the stacks which may or may not have involved antlers.  No, I do not speak French, so Billy's no doubt brilliant analysis and commentary will be utterly lost on me.  Fortunately, however, dots on a page transcend the petty constraints of national dialect.


February 10, 2010

Aeron's Song

The jewel of the sky has turned to steel. 
As I watch my lover's form recede, I feel 
The wind cut through my hollow body 
          like an empty, longing ache. 
"Come back!" I cry, too late with my appeal. 

Though he'll return to me, I long have known 
His scars have blinded him to why he is my own. 
Can he yet feel my jealous fingers 
          fight the wind to touch his hair, 
And never see how fair my love has grown? 

My scorching lips he feels against his face 
And never understands his beauty fuels their blaze. 
My lover's arms are strong, hands gentle, 
          body lithe and stature high, 
His soul burns from inside his shadowed gaze. 

He's noble as the oak, and still more strong, 
He'll neither flagrantly, nor lying do me wrong, 
But does he know my love is true 
          like love he's never known before? 
I've told him this and more through our years long. 

My love's not for the scarf I often tie. 
To all his word-fame and his laurel, I reply 
I'd love his soul, his hands, his body 
          were he peasant, don or king. 
He feels the love I bring him, but not why. 

Does he fear my love will blow away, 
          not rooted to the ground? 
Does he fear that I'll awaken 
          from some dream in which I'm bound?  

I'd have him look into my eyes 
          and see his grace reflected there. 
I look on Aeron, for he's where my love is found.

Notes:  Written for my husband.  This was my first attempt at composing a piece in a period style - actually, it was my first attempt at composing a piece period.  This here is Song #1.  :-)  I wrote it in the style of a troubadour canso, or love song, taking sylistic cues in particular from the songs of the trobaritz - the female troubadours.  There are some historical glitches - it's iambic, where troubadour poems were syllabic, there's only one melisma in the entire melody.  But overall, I think I achieved my goal.  And it makes Aeron blush.  Heee!  :-)  As you can see in the image, I displayed it transcribed into the square notation used in the troubadour manuscripts.  For the full documentation, download this here PDF.

January 28, 2010

On Translation

Some people say that poetry is untranslatable.  I've found myself thinking along those lines before, and yet I'm really quite happy with the way my Bertran de Born translation came out.  What makes that poem great is the cadence and the imagery - flowing from the gay springtime to the gay and bloody mele at a galloping pace evokes the mad, perverse glee that's what I love about the piece.  And I think that's more or less preserved in my translation.

Then there's verse that I just can't bring myself to translate.  Take, for example, Mikhail Lermontov's "Выхожу один я на дорогу"  The link leads to a page with the poem in both English and Russian, and includes further links to audio of the poem read aloud, in Russian.  Surf around for more classic Russian poetry.

What I love about this piece is the sounds of the words.  These words are not just arbitrary markers of abstract concepts, rather the very sounds that Lermontov chooses express the images and ideas they stand for.  "Сквозь туман" (skvohz tum-an) in the second line evokes a darker, thicker, warmer feeling than "through the mist," and recalls the rich, full "oo"s and "oh"s in the first line.  The poem is full of that, and I can't render English that preserves what I love about this poem.  I've yet to see a satisfactory translation - the one included in the link is a good and valiant effort, but it doesn't make much effort to preserve the music of the poetry.  What you're reading is not the poem I love.

To take an example relevant to the SCA, let's return to the troubadours.  The only song by a trobaritz (female troubadour) that survives with a melody is "Ah chantar," by the Comtessa de Dia.  Here is the third verse, in Old Occitan:

Be.m meravill com vostre cors s'orguoilla,
amics, vas me, per qu'ai razon qu'iem. duoilla;
non es ges dreitz c'autr' amors vos mi tuoilla
per nuilla ren diga ni acuoilla;
e membre vos cals fo.l comenssamens
de nostr'amor!  ja Dompnedieus non vuoilla
qu'en ma colpa sia.l departimens.

This verse speaks of the author's confusion at her lover's sudden coldness, and fear of losing him to some other woman.  Most of the lines end on the feminine rhyme "way-lia" (or-gway-lia, dway-lia, etc), and to me it sounds like a wail or a plea, like an expression of confused hopelessness.  She breaks from this rhyme scheme in ordering him to remember the beginning of their love.  This expression of strength is accompanied by a masculine rhyme, strong, unusual enjambment and "oh"s and "r"s which provide a powerful foundation for the melodic high point of the verse.  Without understanding a word, you can tell by listening that she goes from helpless to angry and back to helpless during this verse.

I love singing this piece because when I do, it seems that my mouth and my mind are one, that the disconnect between what I'm thinking and the sounds I can use to represent that is gone.  I've given translating this piece a shot, but I've yet to produce a single line in English that preserves that seamless marriage of sound and thought.  What I love about this piece is not really what she says - she was neither the first nor the last to write a "My man done gone and left me" song.  But I'm in love with how she says it.  I haven't given up completely, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to tamper with that.

January 27, 2010

Sonnet #1

I’ll not call these the best days of my life,
Though I am young and fair for all to see.
The blush of youth still colors your new wife,
But well I know that won’t forever be.

As I adore the silver in your hair,
I’ll have my beauty deepen in your eyes.
As my love grows for you with growing care,
I’ll have you see my beauty grow more wise.

With silver hair cascading down my back,
My face a relic of a million smiles,
I think for beauty I will never lack.
It’s only fools that youth alone beguiles.

Together we will greet still better days,
As we grow better in each others’ gaze.

January 26, 2010


Two frowns of father and son                 each one reflecting
The other’s quiet concentration.             Hoping to catch traces
Or hints or handfuls                                of that which they hunt.

From the bushes a butterfly                    finally bursts.
At that scalding-bright sky-jewel           their scowls quickly vanish,
Two happy grins exploding.                   What great pleasure to see
These two mirrors of mirth,                    one who made the other,

Your mother, she took you                     when you were tiny still
To be fostered afar                                  by strange-mannered friends.
She longed that others might love you   as others have loved her,
So a different tribe teaches you.             But though you’ve been taken
Far from the hall of your father,             his heart is never far.
So readily it reaches for you                  it cannot rest without you,
His boy. He is by you                             for his heart beats within you.

Learn from his life,                                he was like you when young,
He was wiggly and wild.                       It’s no wonder you are
As long and as lanky                             and loving as he.
He can tell you what treasures              and talents you’ll find.
Answers he’ll offer                               when others cannot.
He will guide you in growing               into a good man.

Look on the face of your father,            you’ll see your future.
Look on the smile of your son,              you’ll see your past self.
Look on your father’s stature,              you’ll learn to stand.

Notes:   "Sunufatarungo" is an Old High German (OHG) word that means "father and son."  While reading "The Hildebrandslied," it really struck me how some deep, irreplaceable bond between father and son is expressed by combining them into one word.  I found it very compelling.  I'm always a little afraid someone will read this piece and get the wrong idea.  Yes, I'm drawing a link between the medieval practice of fostering and the modern reality of children going to live with far-away stepparents.  But as a stepchild and now a stepparent myself, I know that just like fostering, it can be a very good thing, it's not inherently tragic.  But there's pain involved nonetheless.

This was my first stab at alliterative poetry, and I'm not completely happy with it.  If it looks a bit different (looser maybe?) than Anglo Saxon poetry, it's because I was following the OHG model.  I usually like to arrange fairly (probably unduly) complicated accompaniment, and I was a little embarrassed by the simple drones I played when I performed this for the first time (very shortly after finishing the melody).  It's grown on me though.  I still feel compelled to beef up the harp part, but probably not by much (actually, now that I see the video, it definitely needs some hard-core beefing up...louder harp wouldn't hurt either...).  Big thanks to Teleri the Well-Prepared, of Atlantia, for many excellent pointers on setting Germanic tonic poetry to music!  Anyway, the details are in my documentation, which you'll find in this here PDF.

January 25, 2010

"Beer is for Girls"

Aint that the truth.

Notes:  I entered this piece in the A&S competition at Nordskogen's 12th Night, and again won without suspecting I was in any danger of doing that.  In order to enter this competition, entrants had to associate their project with a quote from Shakespeare.  I found the following quote from Henry IV Part 2:  "I will make it a felony to drink small beer!"  And I swear to God, if one more drunk, well-meaning bozo at an event suggests I might prefer a Smirnoff Ice to a beer, I will go as ballistic as Jack Cade.

The song takes its stylistic cues from the drinking songs of Thomas Ravenscroft and is displayed in the manner of a 16th century English broadside.  Yes, I play oompahs on the harp when I sing this.  Yes, the harp can do drinking songs.  For the full documentation, download this here PDF.

January 24, 2010

"Oh how I love the springtime gay..."

This is a song by Bertran de Born, that I translated from Old Occitan for a the combat-themed A&S competition at "It's Only a Flesh Wound."  Video of that performance can be found here, compliments of Mistress Elashava bas Riva.  If I ever get a video of me singing it, I'll post it here.

Oh how I love the springtime gay
That brings the leaves and flowers out.
As much to hear the merry way
Of birds who throw their song about
To echo through the glen.
So much I love a meadow fair
Festooned with tents whose banners flare.
And oh! what rapture then
When ranks upon that field prepare,
Each armored knight upon his mare.

I love it when the scouts compel
The landed gentry there to flee,
A multitude of knights will swell
In hot pursuit and mounting glee.
And how I love it when
I see a crumbling castle tall
Besieged, with broken, tumbling wall,
The host advances then
Through sharpened staves contrived to maul
And ditches where the dead men fall.

So too I love the brave seignor
Who mounted, fearless, armored bright
Rides first into the fray and gore
For thus does he inspire with might
And valor all his men.
And when the battles escalate
Each man must cheerfully await
To follow him again.
For ‘till a foe you desecrate,
Your manhood’s only second-rate.

Club and sword and colored helm
Perforated, crumpled shield
Immediately overwhelm
The vassals fighting on the field.
Bewildered horses then
Run frantically, their riders bled.
And when they’re charging full ahead,
All brave and worthy men
Must look to hacking arm and head –
A coward’s worth less than the dead.

I tell you – sleeping, food nor drink,
Holds half the savor as the time
I hear both sides cry, “Too the brink!”
And when the panicked horses whine
And flee without their men.
I hear the cries of “Help!” in vain
And see them tumble, knight and thane,
in ditches on the fen.
Their splintered lances still remain
Upon the meadow, in the slain.

Go pawn your castle baron,
Your town, your city, all your store,
‘Ere ever you stop making war!

Notes: ISN'T THAT FREAKING AWESOME??? So like, I go up to the judging panel full of knights, and I'm all, "So I know the theme is combat, use your imagination," and then I'm all small and young and female and start talking about the gay springtime and the birds and crap, and the next thing you know, there's BLOOD AND DEATH AND SPEARS AND STUFF!!! I love that. And I love that this was written by a troubadour. The artistic movement that brought the world "courtly love." That's right. BEGONE, ye prevailing stereotypes! BEGONE!!!

Anyway. I tried to stick as closely as possible to the Old Occitan original in terms of meter and rhyme, so that I can match this translation up with Bertran de Born's melody. I could not have done this without William D. Paden Jr's volume on Bertran de Born, with literal prose translations and a big, honkin' glossary (the link will take you to a Google Books page that contains a generous preview of said volume). For the full documentation, download this here PDF.

January 23, 2010

Enter the Well-Tempered Harpy

When I first started getting interested in SCA bardic, lo those 4 or so months ago, I scoured the internet for examples.  I wanted videos, lyrics, sheet music, research, anything I could get my hands on to tell me what on earth I'd be getting into if I took my new harp to an event, with the intention of playing the thing for like people and maybe singing too.  What I found was helpful, but I didn't find nearly as much as I'd hoped.

Hence this.  I've decided to add my voice to the web.  Over the next few whatevers, I'll be adding songs I've written or translated, oodles of geektastic documentation and the occasional rant, musing or "OMG LOOK AT THIS CRAZY SONG I FOUND" moment.  Starting out, the blogs, websites and online nooks I found of other SCA bards really helped me get my bearings.  So if some n00b to SCA bardic ever runs across this site and goes, "huh," then I'll have repaid my virtual karmic debt.

On the one hand, I feel like a bit of a tool putting my work and thoughts on the internet like I know what I'm talking about, being somewhat new to the bardic arena.  On the other hand, what the hell?  At worst, it'll be an amusing chronicle of my progress from suck to non-suck.  :-)  Stay tuned for songs.