One year ago, almost to the day, TH Lady Christiana and I were talking about how much fun it would be to get into wordsmithing.  She connected me with Mistress Camille, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It’s been a busy year!  On top of all the other projects that I have done, I was churning out one scroll text every two weeks on average.  This, apparently, is a lot in everyone’s eyes* but really it comes so easily, it doesn’t feel like it.  I mean I did seven sets of text for GNEW, and another four for Twelfth Night this past weekend.  That’s just what you do, right?  Words are easy!

Lady Embla and I have collaborated on several scrolls now, which is just a joy to do.  Back in December, she had a scroll go out based on the Cantiga de Santa Maria, a collection of Late Period, monophonic songs on various (mostly religious) topics.  Since my background is in music, and she needed words, I figured why not do both, right?  We can do something that is true to the original source, and give something really special to the recipient (webminister of Smoking Rocks, now Lord Diego Porcelos).

Without really knowing which scroll she was looking to emulate, I settled on #27 (“Non devemos por maravilla tẽer”).  The structure of the song was easy to emulate, and well documented, and to my ear lent itself to a monophonic melody very easily.  The rhyme scheme for the original was a refrain on AA rhymes, and verses with BBBA; the last line would always rhyme with the two lines of the refrain, and the three lines of each verse all rhyme too.  Oof.  The challenge is to pick easily rhymable end sounds, something really common:

Diego Porcelos named Lord, be it known
So speak Their Majesties from Imperial Throne

From there, the refrains came pretty easily, and you can tell just by the sing-singy nature of the way the words are laid out that they are meant for  singing.   Each line has the same number of syllables (roughly) and with the rhymes, the piece picks up a very gentle song quality.

The Barons of Smoking Rocks needed supplied
News of the barony distributed wide
So toiled Diego Porcelos with Pride
Their Excellencies, impressed, wrote to depone

Gathered in Bergenthal to feast the Yuletide
Czar Ivan decreed, Mathilde at his side
In A.S. LII, Brigantia signed
Blessings, their noble ranks have grown

With proper emblazon, Heralds, ye cry
Raised as a Lord with this writ thereby
Let his name be known though the land far and wide
And By these arms borne to him alone

Once I was done with that, I only had to notate the music and hand it off:

Monophonic melody for scroll for Diego Porcelos

Monophonic melody for scroll for Diego Porcelos

And here’s the final product:

Scroll for Diego Porcelos

Scroll for Diego Porcelos

So what did I learn here?  Well, this scroll certainly solidified my overall principle about doing scroll texts.  There are a lot of elements that can, and often are, included.  Is it funny, poignant, snarky, elaborate, simple, long, short?  These are all choices that come through the writing.  Above all else, though, they have to be RIGHT.  They have to be right for the work of art that they are going to live in for the rest of their lives.  It’s something that I have found the scribes take a lot of value in because the words on some level have to fit within their vision of the art, and if they aren’t right then the whole thing isn’t going to jive.  So when Embla said she was using the Cantigas as her exemplar, for my mileage it dictated exactly what the words needed to be.  Once you have the parameters laid down, it’s just a matter of finding words to fit into the pattern.  This was easily one of the most fun scrolls that I have worked on, and it’s because that mantra really became so clear to me with this work.  It was very much a cornerstone piece for me!

Embla did a great work up on her process for the scroll itself, and you can check that out here:


* To Quote Mistress Anastasia, “YOU’RE A MACHINE!”

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One Response to “And the Scribes of Malagentia call out “MORE WORDS!””
  1. […] wrote the music and the words in the style of the cantigas, like the mad talented person he is (check out his blog post about it!)! My favorite part of this whole thing was that the calligraphy, illumination, words, and music all […]

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