John’s RP Pages


In the great cultural mix that is the world as a whole a fusion of musical styles leads to a whole range of musical types.  However, the different humanoid races all have their own traditional styles, and most of the casual music your hear in any given location will reflect the style most popular with the largest local racial group.

Having said all that -  a good Dwarf Oom-Pah band is liable to draw a big crowd at a busy bar while a skilled Elven performer can command a good fee for their performances almost anywhere.


Human Music

Human traditional music is based around the music of the country side – fairly simple instruments that can be played together to produce everything from simple ballads, through to fast paced dance music.  Think of Irish or Scottish style folk music with a few sea shanties thrown in for good measure. 

Favoured instruments include

Harp   Lyre   Bodhran   Recorder   Gemshorn

Lyre, bodhran and treble recorder can play a fast country jig, while a Lyricist (one who plays the Lyre)  can also perform quiter ballads just as easily.  However, in a Lord’s manor house you are liable to hear the soaring tones of the harp replace the accompanying the very best vocalists.

Human social dances tend to be square dances based on a set of four people (two couples) dancing together.  In the halls of the nobles they may be dancing  sophisticated routines  to the sound of the harp, whilst in the country the dances are liable to be faster and  danced to the Recorder and Bodhran.

One ‘special’ style of display dancing is known as Morry Dancing – a Morry side consists of eight people six dancers and two 'specialists'.  The 'Musician' plays the tune, very often on a gemshorn, while the 'Foreman' acts as the front man interacting with the audience and dancing through and around the set banging a tambourine.  Men dance with sticks while women dance with handkerchiefs.  Both men and women decorate themselves with sashes, flying ribbons and bells for dancing the Morry.  Most dances are for all men or all women, although there are occasional mixed dances as well.  Nearly all male dances include banging and waving sticks, while the ladies wave their hankies and pirouette a lot.  There are rumours that the forms and structures of some of these dances can be used to create magical effects.


Dwarven Music

Dwarves favour large deep toned metal instruments such as brass instruments and the Kettle Drum which they use to make music that ranges in style from modern to Brass Band and Oom-Pah-Pah.  

Favoured instruments include

Trumpet   Horn   Trombone   Tuba   Sousaphone   Kettle Drum

Formal dancing to the 'Brass band' style involves dances in lines or sets that are carried out at a walking/marching pace.  Dancing to the oom-pah style often happens later in the evening, after a fair number of drinks have been consumed,  and involves a lot of thigh slapping. 

This is an example of some humans trying formal Dwarven Dancing, and they almost get it right, but there is not quite enough stamping.


Gnome Music

Gnomes love complicated instruments anything that has wheels, bellows or complicated valve systems appeals to the gnome musician and instruments such as the pipe organ, melodeon, hurdy-gurdy, bag-pipes and concertina are firm favourites – all of which are configured to play a few drone notes in the background.  When choosing a bagpipe (or any other instrument) a Gnome musician will always chose a nice complicated bellows system over a simple mouth blown system.  The best musicians work solo, creating complex tunes form their complex instruments.

Favoured instruments include

Hurdy Gurdy   Pipe Organ     Melodeon   Concertina    Bagpipes

There is next to no co-operation between experienced musicians as each strives to invent the best and most complicated tune.  Gnome social dances include lots of reels, where the participants dance around in circles weaving in and out of each other.


Elvin Music

Elvin musicians have years to practice their art, and their music is nearly always as complex as it is beautiful.  While Elves are very receptive to new music there are three traditional Elvin styles.  Solo performers are nearly always lutenists, who sing beautiful ballads supported by incredibly complex tunes.  Small groups nearly always consists of a drummer, bassist and ‘front man’ who either plays flute, lute or occasionally xylophone.  Often it is the bassist who provides vocal support, although sometimes the group includes a specialist singer.  The 'great ensemble' always includes a full rhythm section of three drummers and three bassists supporting a xylophone, lute and flute.  Ensemble music always has a rich background section overplayed by soaring, complex tunes from the other instruments playing around each other.  Bass,  drum and xylophone are seen as ‘journeyman instruments’ and the true artist aspires to virtuoso performance on one of the lead instruments.  Less experienced and non-Elvin bards often perform simplified versions of Elvin music.

Favoured Instruments include

Lute   Flute   Bass   Xylophone   Drum

Elvin dance matches their character and music and most dance forms have a few set steps that are built on by the dancers, it has the grace of ballet combined with the freedom of expression associated with the 1960s or Latin-American dancing. Elves might dance singly, in pairs or small groups, according to their mood.


Halfling Music

Halflings don’t have many established communities of their own, but settle where ever they think they can make a good living. They tend to integrate with the society or group that they are with and follow their musical customs and mores as much as they can.  Halflings do have a musical tradition of their own although this has been diluted by the travel involved in the Halfling diaspora, but families gather together and have communal singsongs, often singing songs of the days of yore. Although many of the tunes may well have been complicated once, they have degraded to a point where they are simple tunes played on simple instruments that are easy to pack and carry about as the musician travels.

Favourite instruments include

Mouth Harp   Kalimba   Pan Pipes   Ocarina


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