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.

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