- Scop (Wikipedia)
“Very little is known about the mythical scop, and its historical existence is questioned by some scholars. “
Old English scop and its cognate Old High German scoph, scopf, scof (glossing poeta and vates; also poema) may be related to the verb scapan “to create, form” (Old Norse skapa, Old High German scaffan; Modern English shape), from Proto-Germanic *skapiz “form, order” (from a PIE *(s)kep- “cut, hack”) …
While skop became English scoff, the Old Norse skald lives on in a Modern English word of a similarly deprecating meaning, scold. There is a homonymous Old High German scopf meaning “abuse, derision” (Old Norse skop, meaning “mocking, scolding”, whence scoff)…
It is characteristic of the Germanic tradition of poetry that the sacred or heroic cannot be separated from the ecstatic or drunken state…
- Skald (Wikipedia)
“There is no evidence that the skalds employed musical instruments, but some speculate that they may have accompanied their verses with the harp or lyre.”
Every king and chieftain needed a skald to record their feats and ensure their legacy lived on, as well as becoming the main historians of their society. The written artefacts of that time come from skalds, as they were the first from the time and place to record on paper. Some skalds became clerical workers, recording laws and happenings of the government, some even being elected to the Thing and Althing, while others worked with churches to record the lives and miracles of Saints, along with passing on the ideals of Christianity.
There is debate over the performance of skaldic poetry, but there is a general scholarly consensus that it was spoken rather than sung.
See also: kenning (technique)