Mudcat Café message #3451071 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #148569   Message #3451071
Posted By: Don Firth
12-Dec-12 - 04:42 PM
Thread Name: I need a word or term: spoken song?
Subject: RE: I need a word or term: spoken song?
GUEST,Tony, above, put his finger on something that can root the "spoken song" in a historical style of delivery.

It is generally believed that works such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were spokenóchanted to the occasional strumming or plucking of a lyre. This is also one of the major theories about the delivery of songs and stories by scops, skalds, and bards early on.


I started at the U. of Washington as an English major, and my very first class was on Early English Literature. Sometime during the first week of the class, the professor, a little bird-like woman with a big speaking voice, treated us to the first several lines of Beowulf, said to be the first known work of English Literature. She recited them first in Olde English (which sounded very Scandinavian), then in modern English.

Most impressive!

Recently, I was given a DVD of Benjamin Bagby, recreating the style of delivery of the early skalds, complete with a replica of an Anglo-Saxon lyre-harp (found when excavating the buried wreck of a Viking long ship).

Here is Bagby doing an excerpt from Beowulf:    CLICKY. The battle between the warrior Beowulf and the monster, Grendel.

In his later years, Richard Dyer-Bennet undertook to record the entire Iliad and Odyssey. Here he is, talking about the project and giving demonstrations, reciting with the harp:   CLICKY. It runs about a quarter of an hour.

This is a style of delivery that's nearly 3,000 years old, and more than likely, much older than that.

Don Firth