Songs I’ve Sung

To date, I have had a hand in writing three songs in the SCA. Two of them are silly. Two have corresponding illumination. One is based on a period poem and requires context. None of them get performed often, in part because I don’t attend many bardic circles, and within those circles, reading the tone of the circle to know what is best to present for the continued enjoyment of the participants/listeners is a challenge in regard to these songs.

So I’m presenting them here, if only so I keep a record of them in one spot.


The first was in answer to the Bard, Scribe, Illuminator challenge at the 2012 Northshield Bardic Madness. The theme was to do with animal puns, so Mistress Orlaith Ballach Inghean Fhlain, Larkin of Schattentor, and I wrote a filk of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic about the Great Bears of Northshield. I apologize for the lighting – this was in the last Fyte, which was the Feast Fyte, and I’d feel bad about doing a new recording without Larkin.

Illumination by me, based on an amalgamation of pages from the Taymouth Hours (February and March; f. 1v and 2r). I can’t recall who did the calligraphy, but it was probably Orlaith.
Chorus: (With the number lowering with each iteration)
Four Great Bears went out one day
To prove for good and all
Who was the Greatest of the Bears
To Grace a Northshield Hall

Fiskr [Fish] set out at a healthy pace
But then he began to flounder


Ia took a breath to prepare
But then she found that she lacked consonants

[consonance; there is an infamous CD of Ia singing filks]
Skjaldv酶r [called Wyndreth] had the breeze at her back
But the wind went out of her sails


Tarrach began to take the lead
But then he met up with a T-Rex

[Tarrach was Northshield's second King, and had previously
been King of the Middle - and would often sign T. Rex]

The second song is All Griffins Are Girls – A Heraldic Primer, which I wrote with Baroness Katerinka Lvovicha in either 2013 or 2014. She tells a story about helping someone at a Heraldic Consult table with fish heraldry, and to make a fish not look dead and hanging to dry, the attitude needs to be naiant. And, being Northshielders, we latched onto the conceit that Griffins are Girls. The words are here!

You might want to turn the sound up a bit on this one, or you can watch the video of us trying to remember the words and do the motions on the fly at a Bardic Madness post-revel.


That same year, for that same event, I answered a challenge for pieces based on period texts, etc. I chose Yehuda Halevi’s My Heart is in the East. (And I’ll eventually put my hands on the illumination again and upload the image.) I don’t have a recording from the event, but I do have something I recorded with my phone. This is the sad one. This is the one that requires context.

Yehuda Halevi was born c. 1075-1086 in Al-Andalus. He was a physician and philosopher and considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets. Halevi wrote The Kuzari, a pillar of Jewish philosophy, and was part of the “golden age” of Hispano-Jewish culture and life in Granada during the 11th century. He died in 1142, shortly after arriving in Israel. He lived during the entire First Crusade, and much of his poetry is marked by his longing to go to Israel. His text is below – I used several different translations to guide my own adaptation of his verse, in English, to music.

讬讛讜讚讛 讛诇讜讬
诇讘讬 讘诪讝专讞


诇执讘执旨讬 讘职诪执讝职专指讞 讜职讗指谞止讻执讬 讘职旨住讜止祝 诪址注植专指讘
讗值讬讱职 讗侄讟职注植诪指讛 讗值转 讗植砖侄讈专 讗止讻址诇 讜职讗值讬讱职 讬侄注直专指讘
讗值讬讻指讛 讗植砖址讈诇值旨诐 谞职讚指专址讬 讜指讗直住指专址讬, 讘职旨注讜止讚
爪执讬旨讜止谉 讘职旨讞侄讘侄诇 讗直讚讜止诐 讜址讗植谞执讬 讘职旨讻侄讘侄诇 注植专指讘
讬值拽址诇 讘职旨注值讬谞址讬 注植讝止讘 讻指旨诇 讟讜旨讘 住职驻指专址讚, 讻职旨诪讜止
讬值拽址专 讘职旨注值讬谞址讬 专职讗讜止转 注址驻职专讜止转 讚职旨讘执讬专 谞侄讞直专指讘.

My heart is in the East
But I am at the end of the West.
How can I savor food, how can it be called pleasing -
How can I render my vows and my bonds
While Zion lies in fetters
And I am in Arab chains?

It would be too easy
To leave behind the bounty of Spain -
So precious is the dust
Of that desolate sanctuary.

Having been likely written at some point either during or after the First Crusade, Halevi’s poem carries a lot of emotional weight. What struck me was the intense, mournful longing, which I tried to bring into the music. Given the continued turmoil in the region, I opt not to sing this song unless asked, so that I can provide the proper context. And since I don’t go to many bardic circles due to having small children, I don’t get asked often at all. And honestly? That’s okay. It’s an emotional song for me, as much as it was good practice in taking existing words and figuring out a tune for them. It doesn’t need to be on any bardic circle “greatest hits” list.

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Mistress Kudrun Pilegrim’s Laurel Scroll

This summer, my favorite collaboration partner and I worked together on Mistress Kudrun Pilegrim’s Laurel scroll for her elevation at the 7th Known World Cooks and Bards Collegium in Jararvellir. It’s based on the Murthly Hours (c. 1280, Paris), f. 87r, 67v, and 43v.

Kat is responsible for the text and calligraphy, and I did the layout and illumination. The video shows it MOST of the way done – it didn’t get finished-finished until we were on site.

More about the text after the break. It’s really cool text!

Continue reading “Mistress Kudrun Pilegrim’s Laurel Scroll”

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