.scop

When we pronounce this term as shoap (its most likely pronunciation), we can hear its connection with Gardner's "Shaper".

Our current word "shape" has its origins in the Old English "gesceap" which means "a creation." This certainly contains Grendel's sense of what the Shaper does to the world through his art.

The Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton U P) describes the scop as "the professional entertainer, a harpist and poet-singer, normally a member of a royal household,who was the shaper and conservator in England of Old Germanic poetic tradition."

The Shaper, the scop, is a singer of songs, teller of tales, who usually accompanied himself on the harp. He is a tribal court poet, keeper of the communal memories, master of lies (as Grendel reminds us) who sang the praises of kings and warrior-heroes, performing traditional song-histories before Germanic and Anglo-Saxon court audiences.

Benjamin Bagby, an Early Music scholar and performer, has used his research on ancient harps and the scop tradition as a source for his dramatic presentation of Beowulf. His program notes contain some useful insights on the nature of the scop's performance.

Storytelling in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Times
Music and Verse in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Times

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