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Music in Glorantha


Chao

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Hey,

Recently I've been transcribing the seasonal music from King of Dragon Pass - they're nice tunes, and pretty simple to play as well - and that's got me thinking about Gloranthan music in general. I assume music would have a highly spiritual and religious function, and each Cult would have its own set of songs for holy days. Do we have lyrics for some of these, or is this an area that past material hasn't really covered much. For more performance/entertainment focused music I've found a bit about the Donandar cult, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of information on them from what I've seen. Of most significance is his association with Harmony and Illusion, which raises the question whether these are the runes must associated with music, or whether it's more reflective of a professional performers desire to bring harmony to those around them through illusion, and the most relevant music runes are whatever runic affinities in particular are conveyed by the song being played at the time.

For any like minded muses, let me know your thoughts, and if anyone else is working on a similar Glorantha inspired musical project, I'd love to hear about it.

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That sounds like an interesting project.

2 hours ago, Chao said:

Do we have lyrics for some of these, or is this an area that past material hasn't really covered much.

The only lyrics I can remember are the Orlanthi Poetry and some hymns to various deities.

2 hours ago, Chao said:

For more performance/entertainment focused music I've found a bit about the Donandar cult, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of information on them from what I've seen.

Donandar was given a full writeup in White Wold, or Different Worlds, I can't remember which, and is in Cult Compendium p 241. It should feature in the upcoming Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha.

Heretically, Indlas Somer has a music-performing subcult, in Different Worlds. Some say he isn't Gloranthan, but where's the fun in that?

2 hours ago, Chao said:

Of most significance is his association with Harmony and Illusion, which raises the question whether these are the runes must associated with music, or whether it's more reflective of a professional performers desire to bring harmony to those around them through illusion, and the most relevant music runes are whatever runic affinities in particular are conveyed by the song being played at the time.

Harmony is a rune associated with music due to the Harp of Harmony that was played by Yelm.

Illusion could work, as it allows you to play with sounds and how they work.

2 hours ago, Chao said:

For any like minded muses, let me know your thoughts

For me, Elemental Cults have sacred music that is based on elementally-linked instruments.

So, Darkness music is associated with Darkness especially with drums. Troll music has notes that they can hear but humans simply feel. Imagine Throat-Singers whose sounds cannot be heard but rumble in your stomach.

Water cultists might have tubes partly-filled with water, that vibrate at different notes when rubbed.

Earth cultists might have bells and tambourines, I am not sure why, that's how I see them.

Fire/Sky cultists have stringed instruments, specifically harps, lyres and lutes.

Air cultists use wind instruments, whistles, pipes, horns, bagpipes and so on.

Also bear in mind that a cult's relationships with other cults might affect their music. So, Orlanth and Ernalda have a strong bond, so their cult music might be a mixture of Earth and Air music.

Each area or culture would have different music and they would probably be instantly recognisable.

Some of the music might sound very different to us. In the real-world, for example, Eastern European singing uses a different scale, so can sound off-key.

I am an unrepentant folkie and one of the delights of spending time in Russia was a TV programme that they had where they went to different parts of Russia and showcased the folk songs and folk music of that region. I'd watch it every week, just lost in the different melodies, rhythms and styles of the music, and the glorious traditional folk costumes they wore.

Many regions have multiple musical traditions., So, in Peloria, for example, Horse Nomads ruled the lands at the Dawn and during the Third Age, so some areas might have some horse nomadic musical styles, either overtly or covertly, it some might emphasise traditional styles to show that they were not affected by nomadic musical styles.

One last thing to remember is that modern music is very different to ancient music. My brother bought me a cassette of authentic Viking music, let's just say that music has come a long way.

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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It would be cool to have some lyrics for Gloranthan songs, and even better lyrics coupled with music. 
I was at a concert of ancient Roman music once and it was really interesting. The performers were the Italian group Ludi Scaenici, who had been part of another similar group called Synaulia. I've heard Ridley Scott used some of Synaulia's recreated songs for his Gladiator film. As Simon says, some of this recreated ancient music can be hard to listen to for our modern ears, but for example I like the song starting on 12:44 on this video by Ludi Scaenici:
 

 

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Here's a little snippet from Donandar that gives you the common instruments in much of Genertela:

Instruments associated with the cult include:

·       Percussion: Drums, tambourines, bells, castanets, cymbals, and gongs.

·       String: Harps, kithara, lutes, and lyres. 

·       Woodwind: Bagpipes, horns, noseflutes, reed pipes, and trumpets.

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Seems to me the harmony rune goes with Donandar simply because group performances are something the group of entertainers does together.  That is certainly reflected in Donandar's rune spell list.

As far as I know we have no musical notation from the Bronze Age.  So it is pretty much up to imagination as to how any surviving lyrics were sung.  But we do have performers of Homer's and other epic poetry, and their performances seem to my ear to emphasize the rhythm of the poetry rather than complex tunes and harmonies.

All the same this does not prove that musical harmony was not practiced in the Bronze Age.  The documentation of choruses in the Iron age indicates that the ancients knew what harmony was and used it. Also of course the Greeks' relation of mathematics to musical scales.

I wonder iwhether anyone has found evidence of large groups of musical instrument players, or whether trios and quartets would be the usual limit of musical experience.

 

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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14 hours ago, soltakss said:

So, Darkness music is associated with Darkness especially with drums. Troll music has notes that they can hear but humans simply feel. Imagine Throat-Singers whose sounds cannot be heard but rumble in your stomach.

Water cultists might have tubes partly-filled with water, that vibrate at different notes when rubbed.

I really like this idea of hyper low bass notes for troll music, sounds very alien while still being something completely describable to a human perspective. I'll have to remember to include this next time one of my groups runs into trolls.

I've never heard of water filled tubes being used on a wide scale as a musical instrument, but that might just be a reflection of my own ignorance more than of a lack of historical precedent. Are there a lot of land based water cults in Genertela? Going just off the RQG book, the only water god mentioned is Engizi, and I guess there'd be a number of rain gods and local gods/spirits of rivers and lakes, but that hints to me that the water rune isn't something that gets a whole lot of worship. The main water worshipping cultures make more sense, at least to me, to belong to the Triolini or other underwater dwelling race, and in that case they might not even have music, or at least not as we know it, given the significant differences between how easily sound travels underwater compared to in air. That said, the Triolini manage to speak underwater, so maybe they've got a solution to that (or perhaps this is just one part of physics that doesn't map so well onto Glorantha).

14 hours ago, soltakss said:

Some of the music might sound very different to us. In the real-world, for example, Eastern European singing uses a different scale, so can sound off-key.

I am an unrepentant folkie and one of the delights of spending time in Russia was a TV programme that they had where they went to different parts of Russia and showcased the folk songs and folk music of that region. I'd watch it every week, just lost in the different melodies, rhythms and styles of the music, and the glorious traditional folk costumes they wore.

I know what you mean, Eastern European folk songs do sound quite different, though no less beautiful. There's a youtube channel, BEK, that I listen to quite often that sounds like it does a similar thing, showing off musical traditions from around Russia.

12 hours ago, Runeblogger said:

It would be cool to have some lyrics for Gloranthan songs, and even better lyrics coupled with music. 
I was at a concert of ancient Roman music once and it was really interesting. The performers were the Italian group Ludi Scaenici, who had been part of another similar group called Synaulia. I've heard Ridley Scott used some of Synaulia's recreated songs for his Gladiator film. As Simon says, some of this recreated ancient music can be hard to listen to for our modern ears, but for example I like the song starting on 12:44 on this video by Ludi Scaenici:

Thanks for the video, very cool to see a recreation like this, especially of those double flutes which I've always kind of wondered about. I wonder where they get the source for the dances from, if little music has survived I'd be surprised if there were many dances that were well documented, but perhaps dance is easier to describe than musical notation, and therefore more likely to survive.

2 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

As far as I know we have no musical notation from the Bronze Age.  So it is pretty much up to imagination as to how any surviving lyrics were sung.  But we do have performers of Homer's and other epic poetry, and their performances seem to my ear to emphasize the rhythm of the poetry rather than complex tunes and harmonies.

Yeah, last time I was looking into this I think I found a couple sources that claimed to have accurately recreated some music, but it definitely seems like one of the parts of ancient history we really have lost. That said, I've never considered historicity to be all that important in my Glorantha, so seeing all these recreations is great, and definitely fantastic inspiration.

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8 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

As far as I know we have no musical notation from the Bronze Age.  So it is pretty much up to imagination as to how any surviving lyrics were sung.  But we do have performers of Homer's and other epic poetry, and their performances seem to my ear to emphasize the rhythm of the poetry rather than complex tunes and harmonies.

 

In the early 1990s a musicologist published a paper suggesting that markings against the earliest documentation of the Biblical psalms might be the relics of musical notation and (if IIRC), suggested that it could be related to some marks on Bronze Age Egyptian monuments.  I don't think the idea ever gained much traction, though. 

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6 hours ago, Chao said:

I've never heard of water filled tubes being used on a wide scale as a musical instrument, but that might just be a reflection of my own ignorance more than of a lack of historical precedent.

They aren't widespread in the real world, by any means, but could be in Glorantha.

The Hydraulophone is relatively new, but I can see it in Water Temples.

The Jal_tarang is played by striking the edges of partly-filled ceramic bowls.

The Water Tube Piano is also interesting.

6 hours ago, Chao said:

Going just off the RQG book, the only water god mentioned is Engizi, and I guess there'd be a number of rain gods and local gods/spirits of rivers and lakes, but that hints to me that the water rune isn't something that gets a whole lot of worship.

Yes, River Deities and Lake Deities are most commonly encountered.

6 hours ago, Chao said:

The main water worshipping cultures make more sense, at least to me, to belong to the Triolini or other underwater dwelling race, and in that case they might not even have music, or at least not as we know it, given the significant differences between how easily sound travels underwater compared to in air. That said, the Triolini manage to speak underwater, so maybe they've got a solution to that (or perhaps this is just one part of physics that doesn't map so well onto Glorantha).

Sound travels well underwater, so might be important.

I can see Triolini instruments being percussion based, with some using bubbles to make sounds. Instruments mimicking things like whale song might be found, although I have no idea how they would make them.

6 hours ago, Chao said:

I know what you mean, Eastern European folk songs do sound quite different, though no less beautiful. There's a youtube channel, BEK, that I listen to quite often that sounds like it does a similar thing, showing off musical traditions from around Russia.

Thanks, I'll look for that.

9 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

As far as I know we have no musical notation from the Bronze Age.

According to Facebook, we do, although I can't find a link to the post.

Quote
The oldest recorded song in the world
This song to the Hurrian goddess Nikkal, is the oldest piece of music for which we have both the words and the accompanying musical notes. The work was written on clay tablets around 3500 years ago, and was discovered by archaeologists in the 1950’s in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit.
The tablets, which are written in the Hurrian language using Sumerian cuneiform script, have been studied for years by a number of eminent scholars, and several theories have been advanced as to how the music should be interpreted. In my opinion, the most thorough and convincing interpretation (and by far the most musical), is that offered by archaeomusicologist, Dr. Richard J. Dumbrill, and that is the one which you hear in this video.
The long-necked lute you see me playing is a cross between the Turkish baglama and the Persian setar. I made this instrument myself as an experiment. It has four strings but the bass notes are a double course. It is tuned F-C-F. Lutes of this type have been played since the most ancient times throughout Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
The pipes you hear are replicas of the 5000 year old silver pipes discovered in the Sumerian city of Ur in the 1920’s. These are reed instruments but since I cannot play wind instruments and sing at the same time, I sampled the pipes and I am playing them by means of a pedal keyboard, similar to the kind of pedalboard used by organists. My left foot controls the lower register pipe, and my right foot the higher register. Players of these instruments used the technique known as “circular breathing”, which is still used today for wind instruments like the Armenian duduk, and the Australian didgeridoo. This song was performed live, in a single pass. Nothing was added or overdubbed.
The text of the song is not well understood because the Hurrian language has not been thoroughly studied and the original tablet has bits missing. The goddess Nikkal, like most lunar deities, was associated with fertility and childbirth. Here is a very rough idea of what experts believe is being sung by the singer. I have tried to make this poetic rather than literal.
I have made offerings to the goddess
That she will open her heart in love,
And that my sins will be forgiven.
May my jars of sweet sesame oil please her,
That she may look kindly upon us,
And make us fruitful.

 

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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@soltakss

In your last clipping, he's the guy that is singing the Lament for Enkidu. Gent by name of Peter Pringle.

He's an incredibly talented singer and player of ancient instruments, but I find myself of two minds about him... on the one hand he presenting the music as he imagines a performer in ancient Sumer or Babylon would in order to entertain his audience. On the other, the mythologist in me wants to hear more of the story! 😆

Edited by svensson
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And now, let's let the Orlanthi get a bite at the musical apple! I don't know what Paulus Longvale's problem with this is, but obviously somebody raised that boy wrong....

There is nothing an old reenactor ['Moi?'] loves more than watching and listening to reenactors do reenactor shit for reenactor reasons.

A reading of the opening stanzas of 'Beowulf' in Old Middle English [about as close as we get to Anglo-Saxon]. Performed by an unnamed member of Heidniborg, an Ashatrur /Heathen community and research group.

 

Edited by svensson
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To add to what Jeff posted above:

Chorus, pipes, musical notation, and a discussion of reconstructing ancient music. For something more akin to an individual village bard, maybe something like this would be more appropriate (just ignore the Germanic trappings, if desired):

 

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8 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Thanks to those who posted videos.  They are really interesting and good and suggestive.

Well, the Witcher's Dandelion aside, I think many of us 'practical gamer' types always wondered how the Hell you could carry a relatively fragile stringed instrument [the 'bard's harp' trope] while schlepping through a cave by torchlight. But many of the instruments shown are actually suitable for carrying while on campaign. Obviously the flute instruments can have reasonably waterproof hard cases made for them. The dishdhudi [dish-doo-dee] played by Peter Pringle [an authentic Sumerian instrument] could be modified with a shorter neck and have a hardened leather case made, as could the Tossingen lyre. The bodhran drums maybe not so much but you can make percussion on anything, as any Uz can tell you 😁 All you need is a sufficiently hard stick, which can safely be stored in your pack.

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Drum on your shield, or on your chest if you are an Uz.  Not that they wouldn't have real drums at home.

The traveling bard is a real ancient thing by all evidence.  So they must have had routine ways to keep the instruments safe..  Not that they would really crawl through a cave with them.  That is the real stretch in the legend of Orpheus.  But in Glorantha the legends are true.

 

 

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As this is after all fantasy, my main go to temple music is Dead can Dance and Lisa Gerrard. Non understandable lyrics in most cases, and for instance The Serpent's Egg even has suitable titles, from Echolalia to the Chant of the Paladin, though it is not for everyone. Immortal memory, with Patrick Cassidy, is easier, specially Elegy or the two Amergin pieces (and I made a NPC of that name just as an excuse to use the music).

 

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On 4/24/2022 at 6:36 PM, soltakss said:

Sound travels well underwater, so might be important.

Ah yeah, it does doesn't it. I suppose being denser, the sound would travel further, but also be harder to make. That Jal Tarang water instrument is also quite cool, and definitely something I can imagine fitting well within the setting.

 

23 hours ago, Jeff said:

I'd also suggest checking out how Ancient Greek poetry was actually sung to music:

Beautiful stuff, I can only imagine how the Lightbringers story would sound performed in such a way.

 

19 hours ago, Beoferret said:

To add to what Jeff posted above:

This was a really good watch. I'm still a little skeptical of how accurate this really is, but regardless it's a very unique sound.

 

13 hours ago, svensson said:

Well, the Witcher's Dandelion aside, I think many of us 'practical gamer' types always wondered how the Hell you could carry a relatively fragile stringed instrument [the 'bard's harp' trope] while schlepping through a cave by torchlight.

This is a really interesting consideration, especially withthe connection between magic and music in Glorantha, having musical instruments on campaign may be even more important of a strategic consideration than in real world armies. Perhaps great care would be taken to protect these instruments, mounting them on armored war carts, or just armoring the instruments themselves directly. Imagine how many runic augments could be provided by a well situated piper playing hymns honoring Orlanth in the middle of a battle.

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On 4/24/2022 at 8:12 PM, svensson said:

Well, the Witcher's Dandelion aside, I think many of us 'practical gamer' types always wondered how the Hell you could carry a relatively fragile stringed instrument [the 'bard's harp' trope] while schlepping through a cave by torchlight.

In my current campaign an important companion NPC carries and gets significant use out of a kora, a real-world West African stringed instrument, something like the child of a harp and a guitar.  IMG it's an major cultural instrument in Fonrit and wider Pamaltela, and the Agimori of Prax brought it to Genertela in their great migration.  He carries his in a heavy-duty rhino hide case manufactured in Pavis, usually slung like a saddle-bag during travel.  It's featured prominently in some of the campaign's magic, but only in ritual circumstances where 'spelunking with a delicate stringed instrument' would not apply.

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Also this is a piyyut (religious poem, psalm) still recited by Sefardi (Iberian-origin) Jews during the Days of Awe; while the performance is Ottoman-era and Ottoman-style, it has minimal intrumentation. The piyyut, בַּת אֲהוּבַת אֵל "Beloved Daughter of God" (Bath ehuvath Ēl), itself starts about 57 seconds in. Piyyutim are associated with the Palestinian (as opposed to Babylonian) tradition and are actually much later in use in the Sefardi rite, but piyyutim date back to the very earliest days of Judaism.

 

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Worked with them and they are wonderful even with few words in common. They do a song of knights clashing with the Golden Horde, the drumming and cello, evoke horse hoofs on the steppes, and the words rise to become bugles, trumpets and voices of battle as the armies clash. I had worked with the Tuvan Throat Singers of Mongolia a few years before and they also had a song of a horse warriors battling knights on the Caspian Steppes that had evoked similar visions of horse warriors battling foe. Patched together in my memory it was and still is eerie. 

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I honestly can't see how we can have this discussion without bringing these guys into the mix... The Hü are Mongolian throat singers who've become popular recently, rather like the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos and their Gregorian chants set to dance music back in the 90's.

 

 

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Do note all, these videos and the topic have been done at least 4 times now in the past few years. So for all these videos and more, do feel free to do a search as well as read this thread. 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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