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Thread: What is a Modern Bard?

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    What is a Modern Bard?

    According to wikipedia a bard was a "professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities." It was different than just a singer or poet but in modern times it is often used to mean any "epic author/singer/narrator". I've always personally thought a bard was anyone who performed songs, recited poems, and told epic tales for the amusement of others. I guess my view was tainted by D&D.

    In these modern times we don't really have bards. Those that sing and perform songs are musicians, poetry is written and read by poets, stories are written by authors and story telling is largely limited to the librarian who recites children's stories to little ones a few times a week. Any one of these people might be called bard but none quite fit the bill.

    Being that I'm about to start panhandling I was considering things I could do, performances specifically, to earn some money. One idea that came up was reciting monologues from 'the Bard' himself, Shakespeare. Long story short, this lead to the idea of becoming a wandering bard. I had images in my mind of sitting on a street side plucking out a simple tune on my lap harp while I told tragic love tales to a few odd ones who stopped to listen. And yet I could not imagine that actually working. And so I began to wonder; What is a modern bard?

    If you could imagine a bard in these modern times what comes to mind? And I'm not talking about those few musicians who still sing songs of great myths. Get creative with it. I want to see what the imaginations of PF can come up with =)

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    Sure we do...any celebrity spokesperson. We don't have noblemen so much, but we do have corporations and they hire celebrities to model, demonstrate, and cite benefits of their products allll the time. Not to mention using songs (either popular or writing new ones) in commercials, and product placement in movies.

    And you might say it's not the same, but it's exactly the same. How is exploiting the benefits of Maybelline lipstick any different from exaggerating the exploits of some lord of the land?

    ---------- Post added at 12:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:42 AM ----------

    But if you want to busk I think your idea is kinda neat

    Not sure about where you live, but back home buskers can do very well (I'd have a hard time calling them "panhandlers"....none of them are homeless and many of them make a good living being street performers) and showmanship can serve you very well. Here earnings are a little tougher but showmanship still gets you somewhere.

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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    I suppose you are right, and it even follows the traditional definition. I guess to say that they don't exist is silly. I meant more that the idea I had of a bard is hard to find. The storyteller and musician that performs for the sake of entertainment, to inspire and make a little profit. Less a bard and more a fili or skald or minstrel.

    I use the word panhandle because if performing does not work then I simply have to ask. I am homeless (or will be in the next couple of days) and will be traveling (otherwise I could get a job, even living out of my car). I would much prefer to offer entertainment rather than just ask for money. I could also offer portraits and tarot readings but I could not charge (don't wanna get in trouble for not having a vendor's license) and it would require them to stop for at least 10 minutes. Thus performing seems my best option. Unfortunately I don't know how to play any instrument. I'm currently looking at well known, recognizable monologues and adapting old myths into modern terminology.

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    It could still be cool! And if you can be compelling and draw in a crowd it's a different idea. Can you improvise and take requests and work people into stories? People LOVE stuff like that and it's a good way to draw them into what they're doing, which usually compels them to give you at least a bit of money without being asked.

    I'd google videos of street performers and get an idea of what they do and how they talk to crowds. Even people doing different things from you will have elements you'll probably be able to use. Remember, you're an entertainer first!

    Also, keep in mind that in some places, you may need a license to perform on the street as well.

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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    I've been doing boatloads of research, reading famous plays and poems and stories, researching mythic tales that can have modern spins put on them, watching vids, ect. The idea of involving viewers is a great idea. My mind is just rolling with ideas now. You're an inspiring lady =)

    Good looking out on the license bit, I never even thought of that. When panhandling in areas where the cops are especially strict just talking to people on the street could be called harassment (touching them w/o permission is assault, stepping one foot into the street is obstructing traffic) so I have to be extra careful about legality.

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    Even if you do need a license, don't always let that discourage you....especially if you're going to be there for more than a day or two. They've changed it now because there were just tooooo many performers, but back home in Victoria (which is a HUGE tourist town) it used to only cost $10 for an entire season and all you had to do was go to city hall and get it. And that would allow you to perform in the prime areas. In Berlin it's a daily thing to make noise, so I think if you were doing something that involved talking you wouldn't need a license, but if you had to raise your voice you would...but it's only 6 Euro a day and if you're finding you're doing well that's not bad (and they're pretty lax anyway so people don't always bother haha). Also, if you need a license but it's too expensive to bother, maybe look into what happens if you don't have the license. Some places you'll get fined and that's just not worth it, but others will just make you stop and then maybe it's worth trying until someone asks you to leave :P

    Unfortunately it's always city bylaw (and on top of that, it seems to be like that in most countries) so every place will be different.
    Last edited by DanieMarie; 29 Mar 2011 at 08:14.

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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    We just don't use that word anymore. To me, there are no modern bards. That's why when you hear the word you can actually see someone in tights with a plumed hat.

    We don't see minstrels anymore either, and that because we have new words for them: folk singers. Minstrels didn't stick to the same corner, they moved around because sooner or later, everyone will have heard all your tales and get bored with you. And if you didn't travel, where could you learn other tales and songs to embellish?

    A bard nowadays could be a spoken word poet, street artist, or an entertainer but the emphasis is essentially on being employed by a nobleman. And we don't have those anymore. Perhaps my definition is too concrete but that's just what a bard is to me.

    But no one in the world can possibly steal your muse away. Art is art, song is song, and if you have a story to tell and know how to tell it then a crowd will flock to you, no matter what you call yourself.
    No one tells the wind which way to blow.

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    I think we really have the potential to create better art than ever possible. We have less boundaries and censorship, and we don't have limitations on what kind of information and influence we can access beyond those we put on ourselves. Not that I don't think art from the past isn't amazing....it is, in its own way. But we have the potential to go so far now.

    Bjorn has a point, though it's funny because "folk singer" was mentioned, and back in the day Bob Dylan was often referred to as the "troubadour."

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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    I personally think of a bard as any musician or poet paid to perform, ESPECIALLY if he/she travels. (Sorry, by the way, for digging up an ancient thread!) I actually was scoping out the Hobbies forum to see if anyone else was into spoken word poetry like I am. I've done a few paid performances around my town. I guess that makes me a bardess. LOL. I love reciting my poetry for audiences and feeling people relate to me. Do we have any spoken word poets here?

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    Re: What is a Modern Bard?

    Not sure if you've ever heard of him...but I heard him as a kid and have never forgotten him (he has that James Earl Jones sort of voice and *presence* on and off stage that even a kid remembers)...if I were to think of a modern bard, I'd think of Bobby Norfolk

    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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