Excerpt from

Dumnonian Songs

by

Valron Silvertongue

(Revised 11/14/97)

From the Introduction

Most Dumnonian songs are performed without accompaniment, simply because bards tend to frequent courts in the more pleasant surroundings of Rashtar, Daethia, the Elven Kingdom and Mount Paradin. Some wealthy traders and a few Dragonlords hire musicians for special occasions, but only the main Camp at the Valley of Ancients maintains bards in permanent residence.

Dumnonian songs are generally meant to be accompanied by dance. Rhythm is considered essential in most performances, so it is no surprise that the most common instrument is the hand-drum. A piece of tanned hide and a bit of wood bent into a circle form the basic design, although bases made out of several pieces of wood are not unknown. Larger versions of this simple device are played at feasts in the main Camp, but most dragonless camps can boast at least one, albeit often well worn, example. The high price of wood in general, never mind wood suitable for fashioning musical instruments, makes such drums extremely valuable to their owners. People who cannot afford drums often use tambourines, since these can be made with smaller quantities of lesser quality wood. Supply personnel tend to hoard tambourines and hand cymbals for use in spontaneous revels. Hand cymbals are small metal disks from the edges of tambourines. Celebrants who cannot afford the complete instrument, wear these disks on their fingers and clap them together to make a ringing sound.

Stringed instruments, such as the lute, qanun and zither are employed only by trained musicians, since such items are expensive and bulky to transport. The lute looks rather like the Daethian guitar. The qanun is essentially a harp designed to lay flat; it may be played either by plucking or with mallets. The zither is similar to the qanun, except its strings are separated by wooden slats that can be pressed while strumming to alter the tone and pitch of the strings.

Flutes and other instruments are sometimes imported from Daethia or Mount Paradin, but the preferred instrument for producing desert music is simply the human voice. Perhaps that is why the Dumnonians have produced the most beautiful songs on Centuria, weaving together words and harmonies that haunt the listener long after the singer has wandered away.

From the Songs:

Be merciful to me, O Dragon, be merciful to me, for in thee my heart takes refuge; in the shadow of thy wings I will seek shelter until the storms of destruction pass me by.

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