Musical Instrument
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A Musical Instrument is a device used to create musical sounds. They can roughly be catagorized into four groups: Wind instruments, such as horns and flutes; String instruments, such as violins and guitars; Percussion instruments, such as xylophones; and Membrane instruments, such as drums, that primarily use a vibrating membrane to produce the sound.

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Specific Musical Instruments

Basic Information


2. cartoon: "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom" — animated history of the development of music

Game and Story Use

  • Bard characters are required by Union regulations to carry a musical instrument
  • Your players might want to find an instrument that can double as a weapon. This should be a last-ditch option because such use is likely to damage the instrument.
    • Unless the character in question is El Kabong.
    • "I was just seventeen when I first killed a boy with a Fender Guitar."
    • Why do you think a musician calls his instrument an "axe"?
    • See Instrument of Murder
  • In a fantasy setting, some types of magic might require music to cast, and so a minstrel might also be a mage.
    • Musical performances - including singing, drumming and the playing of bells and trumpets are often used in religious and/or shamanistic rituals.
  • In a magical setting, the instrument itself might be enchanted to cast spells when played or to enhance the quality of the performance.
    • Indeed this was a common trope in various mytheia - magical harps appear in the Greco-Roman mythos, the Celtic mythos and the later Anglo-Celtic mythos in the hands of deities and heros alike. Sometimes the harps were merely of supernatural quality, sometimes they could play themselves and had personalities of their own. Others fell in between. And not just harps either … faeries and satyrs and suchlike were thought to turn out enchanted pipes and other instruments.
    • Pied Piper of Hamelin…
    • Thomas Rhymer was also said to operate a fairy made harp - how much of his legend was down to him (given a mix of natural talent and training by the fair folk) and how much was down to the harp is an open question.
  • In any setting, a character might have a musical background or play an instrument as part of his non-adventuring day job.
    • This can go all the way up - the ability to perform reasonably well on a musical instrument was considered an accomplishment for a chivalric knight and King David and the Emperor Nero were both recorded as harpists - to very different effect.
  • Instrument cases also make good places to conceal Tommy guns, large quantities of cash, or sable coats.
  • A talented performer may be able to achieve a great deal in terms of diplomacy with his musical skills - King Alfred the Great was reputed to have infiltrated the camp of his Danish enemies disguised as a travelling harpist, the future King David became a power at court through his skill as a musician and Orpheus played his way past Cerberus and brought the underworld to a standstill with his music.
    • Travelling musician is probably good cover for a spy - especially if their target culture extends Bardic Immunity.
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