Wednesday, 14 August 2013

On Being a Field Herald

One of the most visible areas of heraldry is that of the field herald, acting as announcer for tournaments, directing the fighters to the field in the right order, and with time to don their armour, letting the audience know who is on the field, and what's happening, and generally adding to the spectacle and feel of our tournaments.

One of the most common questions I get about field heraldry is "are you available?" One of the unfortunately less common questions, and the one I would like to address today, is "can I do that?"

There are very few people who can't learn to be a field herald, so the answer is probably a resounding "yes".

You need to be able to speak, and loudly, so if you're deaf or mute, then there are going to be some obvious barriers. You need to be able to see what's happening on the field, so blindness will also cause complications (it won't be impossible, but you'd need an assistant). You need to be able to read the lists and tourney cards, so illiteracy will cause some stumbling. Other than these, I see no great obstacles for anyone wanting to become a field herald, if they will put the time in to learn.

When making herald calls, there is a common mistake to focus on loudness, rather than on clarity and projection. This is, largely, the cause of the stereotypical "mumblemumblemumble ON THE LIST FIELD IN FIVE MINUTES!" When making your calls, it's better to speak somewhat slower than normal, with short pauses between sentences (this also allows you to breathe in).

On the difference between projection and loudness, think about the movement you're imparting on the air. If you're focused on being loud, you're pushing the air as hard as you can. If you're focused on projection, you're pushing as much air as you can. If more air is moving, then it will carry further (some loudness is important, but projection is more critical). You will need to pause for air more often, but pauses give gravitas to your speech, so that's good, anyway.

As for clarity, the other improvement once you've learned projection is to learn what to say. For field heraldry, there is a fairly standardised script, which can be adapted to any tourney. Variance from it is acceptable, but when the only part of the script that changes is the list of names, it becomes much simpler to follow, even if some words are lost. The actual script, and how to adapt it to the various tournaments, will be covered later.

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