Voice-Herldry-art - 11/16/06
"How to be a Voice Herald in 42 easy steps!" by Lady Eleanor Cleavely.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
How to be a Voice Herald in 42 easy steps!
by Lady Eleanor Cleavely
Vocal Heraldry is one of the most misunderstood arts in the SCA. For many members, a vocal herald is a disembodied voice behind the throne. But, voice heraldry is much more than simply reciting names on a card or calling a name in court. Vocal heraldry is akin to a performance. Voice heralds can add pomp and circumstance to a court with a slight turn of phrase. A voice herald, with a few choice words on the field, can inspire a fighter to greatness and make the populace sit up and take notice.
This article will cover the basics of voice heraldry: voice support and projection, how to herald a list, how to herald a court and how to improvise if needed.
Vocal Support and projection
One of the most common (and damaging!) misconceptions of vocal heraldry is that to be heard, you must yell or scream. Please allow me to dispel that myth here once and for all. Yelling and screaming is one of the worst things you could do to your voice. Think back to your theatre or choir classes from high school or college. The first thing you learned was proper vocal support. When heralding, especially outside, you want your full voice to carry, not screech and die on the wind.
You do this with proper support of your diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large sheet of muscle that separates the chest cavity (containing the lungs and heart) from the abdominal cavity (containing the digestive organs). Your diaphragm sits where your “tummy” is, right below your lungs. The diaphragm also serves as a muscle to help draw air into the lungs as a person breathes. It contracts to expand the lungs when breathing in (inhaling) and relaxes when breathing out (exhaling).
The diaphragm, when used properly, will help carry your voice by pushing out the air in your lungs.
Put your hand on your stomach and say “HA!” as loud and as forcefully as you can. Did you feel your stomach push the air out? That is the diaphragm working! The diaphragm will help you get the volume you need without costing you your voice in the long run. Trust me – the diaphragm is your best friend!
How to herald a list
One of the duties of a vocal herald is to herald a list or tournament. This is one of the simplest duties of a herald: your work is cut out for you! When heralding a list, it is very easy to go through the motions and just announce the names. Here are a few tips to make field heralding more exciting for all involved:
1. When you get your cards, take a look at the names. For any difficult-to-pronounce names, try to find the fighter and have them pronounce it for you slowly. Write down the phonetic spelling of the name below the actual spelling. This will make your life much easier and assist the fighter (and reigning royalty) in knowing who’s who on the field.
2. If you have time, try to get a bit of information on the fighter you’re heralding. You might ask if they hold a defender title or a peerage or something like that. This is especially good for pas de armes and Crown Tournaments. By doing this, you are adding a bit of splendor, pomp and circumstance to the fight. It’s also more period! However, please note that this will not work for every tourney. Be sure to discuss this with the herald-in-charge to make sure there is enough time and whether it is appropriate for the tourney. This works best for first and final rounds.
3. When heralding the salutes, be sure to give the fighters enough time to make their salutes, especially in the first and final rounds. Here’s one way you can do it:
a. “Fighters, salute the Crown of Atenveldt!” (count to three)
b. “Fighters, salute the one whose favor you bear this day!” (wait for the fighters to return to their line, especially for the first and final rounds. Consort salutes are very important!)
c. “Fighters, salute your most honorable and worthy opponent!” (count to three)
4. Now, yield the field to the marshals and leave the field. You can change up the wording but do try to keep it in this order as people are pretty familiar with it.
****PLEASE NOTE: Pay attention to the fight and the marshals. When you are heralding a tournament, ESPECIALLY CROWN TOURNEY, DO NOT CALL A VICTOR UNTIL THE MARSHALL(S) INDICATE A VICTOR. This will help keep any mistakes at a minimum and will save many from having to dispute a match. Besides, it is not your call to make – it is the Marshall(s) on the field who call the victor. You are just announcing it. So pay attention to what’s going on. This will also allow you to pace the fights and keep things moving.
How to herald a court
Another duty of a vocal herald is heralding a court. There are many schools of thought on how to herald a court, be it baronial or Kingdom. Some feel that heralding a court means keeping it simple with little embellishment. Others prefer a more flowery approach. Here are some tips on how to herald a court:
1. Linguistic embellishment: One of the ways you can liven up a court (especially a looooong court) is by changing things up a bit. When the Crown calls up a gentle, you don’t have to go with the status quo. Try this: instead of saying “Their Majesties/Excellencies call forward Lady Sewsalot…”, try this: “Lady Sewsalot, Their Majesties/Excellencies bid you make your presence known before them!” While the award is being given, listen for hint words such as “service”, “arts”, “talent”, etc. When Their Majesties/Excellencies release the gentle and the time for huzzahs have come, try saying “For her artistic achievements in the field of medieval underwater basket-weaving, three cheers! Hip hip!...”
2. Speaking forsoothly: One of the biggest pet peeves that I have is when people do not attempt to speak forsoothly, especially when heralding. They use words like “cool” to describe something other than temperature or whatever. However, you can speak with period flair while still using modern language! Here are some tips:
a. Stay away from contractions (can’t, won’t, didn’t, etc). Instead, say “should not”, “would not” or “could not”.
b. Stay away from slang terms as well. Nothing kills a medieval ambiance faster than someone using modern slang. You don’t have to rattle off Middle English or sound like you just came from a Masterpiece Theatre production. Just be mindful of your language when heralding.
Hopefully, this article has given you a few of the tools to get you started as a vocal herald. The Office of the Herald is eager and willing to help you on your heraldic path! Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of Vocal Heraldry!
Copyright 2006 by Heather Nieto. <whiteoakbard at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.