What StoryBiz buzzers won’t tell you about storytelling (because they don’t know)

By Limor Shiponi

This is it: you can’t learn storytelling through reading books, articles, blogs or tweets. You need to tell stories to people face-to-face for years, say around 7-10 years before you can even call yourself a storyteller, there is no quick-fix, there are no express-benefits. Being a true storyteller and extracting the human glory of this magnificent art is a way of life, a walk, not a trend, not the next big thing.

Clutching onto the “story” excuse won’t help either – the connection to texts in storytelling resembles in many ways medieval musicianship. Here is an example – Mariam Matrem Virginem out of Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, compiled in the 14th century, you can see the facsimile next to the modern notation music sheet.

Now I’m sending you to YouTube to listen to a couple of performances: Try Micrologus, Anúna and Hesperion XX. Even if you don’t have the patience to listen let’s consider one tiny detail – how come Micrologus performs for 4:30 min. Anúna for 3:58 and Hesperion XX for 7:20? maybe the latter found a few more secret pages or performs twice as slow? and what about the highly elaborated Anúna work which obviously – most of it is not written in the above text? are they improvising?

Not exactly and it’s nothing you could compare to “my version of the story” or “this is the way I tell it” coming from the mouth of a person who just read the story he is telling five minutes ago, not even five hours or days ago – unless that person is an able storyteller.

They are re-telling the music, re-composing it. Their knowledge which totally justifies their right to give the world such different performances is the knowledge of deep learning of musical patterns, skills, periodical life habits, performance spaces and contexts, history, religion and spirituality, pace, taste, instruments, the place of music in life and among the arts of that time, the importance of Montserrat and tons of other details they incorporate eventually into their artistic choices expressed through their music.

This is a dense ability acquired over a long period of time while constantly practicing. It was expected from musicians and it still is – hence no real need to spell-out every single note on page. Not only that – the music was created for adaptation. Nobody thought it should be performed the same way every time and nobody owns the music because owning a single or double line that will evolve constantly is ridiculous just as is forcing the performance not to change so it can be copyrighted.

A music scholar does not turn automatically into a music performer, so why on earth should anyone think it is possible in storytelling which too – is a performing art?!

Beats me, really. Anyway, I wouldn’t trust an impresario to teach me how to play…

2 thoughts on “What StoryBiz buzzers won’t tell you about storytelling (because they don’t know)”

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