THE PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS OF CAELERETH

INSTRUMENTS OVERVIEW

Nearly concealed from sight, at the back of the Sarvonian orchestra, lie the unsung heroes of music, the Percussionists. Without the occasional twang of a Spring Stick or tweet of the Mushroom Whistle, the tones produced by the other fifty or so orchestral instruments would be dreary and bland. Because most percussion instruments make a single tone or no tone whatsoever, a medley of different instruments of numerous shapes and sizes are needed to create a diverse sound.

And so, deep behind the wind section, the fabled percussion table lies, covered in a forest of shakers, beaters, whistles and a horde of all sorts of musical delights. The table is operated by three Percussionists; two "slammers"who mainly operate the drum section and a "twinkler"who lords it over all the other weird and wonderful instruments. Unlike their fellow musicians, they need little or no musical notation for they have mastered the art of rhythmical precision.

Instruments Overview. Here is a list of the instruments that commonly dwell on the Sarvonian percussion table, ordered alphabetically.

BIRD DRUMS, THE
The Bird Drum has no relevance to birds whatsoever, and why it is named that way is a complete mystery to all muscians. It is probably the most frequently used of the percussion instruments and is the only instrument that does not reside atop of the glorious Percussion Table. Instead a pair of Bird Drums sit at either end of the table and are opertated by the two "Slammers".

Its frequent usuage is as a result of its modern, ingenious pedals which allows it to produce a higher or a lower tone; e.g at one moment it can produce an Ey and the next an Ah. This is the first ever drum in Santharian history which can easily change its pitch. These marvelous pedals operate by tightening the drum skin, increasing the tension which in turn increases the drums pitch. The only downside is that the Bird Drum can only raise its pitch and cannot lower it past its original tone. However its booming sound is a glorious one indeed.
 

CLANG DRUM, THE NYBELMARIAN
This huge drum, shaped rather like a saucepan without a handle, is almost two peds in diameter. Its rather unappealing name is courtesy of the first Sarvonians to import the instrument from Nybelmar, as they found its original name impossible to pronounce - though its Zhunite creators doubtless enjoyed the euphony of "Wiqu'stara", meaning "Waterfall". The Clang Drum is made out of metal and sits on a wooden frame and uses similar playing sticks to the Twinkle Stars to avoid any unnecessary reverberations of the instrument.

The Clang Drum or "HukkerPuv" in Thergerim Taal (literally, "Thunder Cauldron") is a particular favourite of the dwarves, who enjoy listening to huge groups of percussionists attack these sound makers in unison. Dwarves are known to have groups of up to twenty playing the Clang Drum to produce very aggressive and powerful sounds. - As the well-known bard Judith of Bardavos informs us: "My dwarven friends tell me that the beat of the HukkerPuv played at its strongest is an echo of the pulse of Trum-Baroll's heart and the rhythms of the deep places of the earth, violent but structured, powerful and passionate..."

 

DESERT TAMBOUR, THE
Originating from the deserts outside of Strata, this ancient and rustic tambour has been played among many a generation. The instrument is made by stretching dried and steamed cactus hide over a tringular birch soundbox, about 3 handspans wide. It is an instrument deeply connected to its player and often percussionists add their own unique features to their instrument. A little bell here and there, some ribbons, or a custom woodburned design. The skin is hit by a small double ended beater that is held between the index and the thumb, and it is tapped with varying violency onto the cacti hide skin by repetivley twisting the wrist in rhythmic patterns. It is often heard acommpanying the orchestra when fast hunting themed pieces are being played.
 

DUKULPUV, THE THERGERIM
The Dukulpuv is a giant doubleheaded drum. Forged from bronze or iron and set on a huge wooden stand, the drum is played by two musicians, one on either side. Each using a large wooden mallet shaped like a forgehammer, they strike in synchronized beat patterns. The tough, tanned animal skin stretched on both bdrum faces is slightly tauter on one face than the other, so that the drum resounds in a chord, or a "do-so-do-so" rhythm. It is a bass earth instrument.
 

ECHO LOG, THE
The Echo Log is a very large instrument- though not to such a scale as that of the Ogre Chest Drum. It is around half the size of a cedar tree trunk and is completely hollow. Although this low tech instrument is usually reseved for al fresco performances, it is in no way a rarity to the ear. The instrument is beaten by the player with two large batons, causing a peculiar sound that has been poetically described as "a civilization falling into oblivion, slow, tragic but full of grace all throughout".
 

GARNETTES, THE
The cousin of the Vindekette. The two relatives are almost identical to each other, apart from the fact that the Garnettes cups are made from a metal, resulting in a clashing sound instead of the humble click. Unlike it cousin, Garnettes can come in a varitey of sizes, producing a wide range of clashes, it is even possible to wear one size on one hand and another on the other one, generating a totally unique sound. There are often four or five different sizes of Garnettes, laid out on the percussion table.
 

KAORPUVEEN, THE THERGERIM
The Kaorpuveen is the baby sister of the Kaorpuvkor. Also two opposed hemispheres, with bat membrane pulled taut for a higher tone. It can be played with sticks or with the tips of the fingers to soften the sound. Often the wooden frame is carved with bat motifs, just as the Kaorpuvkor is decorated with lizard shapes. This drum belongs in the category of soprano earth instruments.
 

KAORPUVKOR, THE THERGERIM
The Kaorpuvkor is a wooden upright drum. Carved in an elegant semisphere set in a second inverted semisphere, the drum frame resembles a bowl tilted atop a boulder. The face of the drum lies at a 45 degree angle away from the musician, who sets the drum between his knees and uses double sticks to tap out a sharp, clear percussive sound on the lizardskin face. It is classed as a tenor earth instrument.
 

MELANCHOLY MAIDENS, THE
These are very strange and peculiar instruments, that started off as a prank tool among the jesters of old. Melancholy Maidens are made from hollowed out cedar, that is intricately carved into a snail shell shape, with a small flared bell at one end and a triangular mouth piece at the other. The Percussionist will need to blow quite heartily to create is weird sound. The Melancholy Maiden is aptly named, for the noise it makes sounds identical to that of a woman sighing deeply, the sound is so convincing that according to local legend it fooled even the great Santhros, long ago...
 

MUSHROOM WHISTLE, THE
A lovely wee instrument, which is a prominent feature on the Percussion Table that is never left to gather dust. As the name probably suggests, this cute little whistle is made from the dried husk of a large Mushroom. Two holes are punctured on either side of the fungi, and the mushrooms dried innards are carefully scooped out. A pea (or any other circular pulse for that matter) is then dropped into the now empty mushroom, and if you blow into either of the holes, it causes the organic sphere to vibrate inside the husk, creating a melodic tweeting sound. This all natural instrument is coveted by the Aellenrhim and the Eyelians for its birdlike tone and its nature friendly construction process.
 

OGRE CHEST DRUM, THE
A huge drum shell which is shaped in a very similar way to a barrel, only on a much larger scale. Dried and treated animal skin (different crafters using different pelts) is stretched tightly over the shell to create an enormous instrument.

The name "Ogre Chest" is used as a reference to the instrument's sheer size, which is obvious when you look upon it - the diameter of the drum being an amazing six peds. Two wooden sticks - similar to batons but thicker - are used to beat the shell to conjure the booming noise that has been compared to Urtengor's hammer crashing onto his anvil.

This large and fearsome drum is stowed safely behind the table, making it the instrument farthest from the audience. In the rare occasions that this breathtaking drum is used it is, ironically, played by the "Twinkler"...
 

RAIN SHAMAN, THE BROWNIE
A traditional and fun Brownie instrument that could be played for hours on end without boredom. The Rain Shaman is constructed from thick eur'oak branches which are hollowed out in such a way as to leave a spiral "path" or shelf curling down the interior wall. They are then filled with about a tot of granite chips or seashore gravel and sealed at both ends. If turned upside down, the granite chips are sent sailing down the spiral shelf creating a pattering sound reminiscent of rain that is more musically useful than most might imagine.
 

RINGING PIPES, THE
Similar to the Trickle Chimes (see below) in some respect, Ringing Pipes are a very popular and versatile percussion instrument. Though in their homeland of the Peninsula of Shar they were made from wood, the variation that has found its way to Santharian shores is made of metal.

The instrument consists of eight hollow pipes, each around two palmspans long and of various lengths between two fores to three peds, tied to a frame from shortest on the right to longest on the left. The player of the instrument strikes the pipe to produce a ringing sound, each pipe producing a different pitch. Due to the different pitch possibilities and combinations, the Ringing Pipes can have very varied effects depending upon the composition in which they are used.
 

SAND STICKS, THE SHENDAR
The Sand Sticks are a percussion instrument of Shendar design which share many similarities to the Brownie-invented "Rain Shaman". The Sand Stick is a very simple instrument in its design and its use. It consists of a wooden handle that ends in a globe shape, usually a gourd or other dried vegetable husk. This globe contains, obviously, sand, but small chips of wood or even dried grains can be substituted for a slightly different sound. They are mostly played in pairs, one shaken in each hand. Its simplicity allows it to be used for a number of different effects, so this is a very versatile and popular piece of the percussionist's arsenal.
 

SINGING FINGERS, THE (SNOW CRIERS)
Though not one of the more common members of the Table, Singing Fingers are a very novel yet remarkably simple instrument. Singing Fingers are composed of hollow, metal spheres, each with a tiny round stone inside. These spheres are attached to straps of leather, which in turn are strapped onto the player's fingers. Since the average person can fit one to three "Snow Criers" per finger, as many as thirty individual spheres, each with their own slightly varying chime, can be worn at a time.

After these ringing attachments are secured to the hand the user simply shakes the hands at various speeds to conjure up a delicately rhythmic melody that has been called "the sound of crying snow". It is also possible to perform very exotic dances with this instrument - choreographed to be entertaining both physically and musically.
 

SLEEPY-MICE, THE
Sleepy-Mice, named after the mythical bed-time persecutors of small children, are little instruments made from inflated spheres of cow or wison hide, with a tiny circular hole on the side. Attached to the entrance of this hole is a miniature metal reed. If squashed (pushing all the air out of the sack) they are designed in such a way that they will automatically inflate themselves, and in doing so the generate a high-pitched squeaking noise from the metal reed. There are various sizes of Sleepy-Mice, each with its own unique reed, generating its own unique tone.
 

THUNDER DISC, THE
Thunder Discs are percussion instruments of exotic design; though probably from Nybelmar, some believe them to originate from the fabled shores of Aeruillin or even Cyhalloi. Regardless of where it comes from, the Thunder Disc is a very commanding instrument. It is used only on rare occasions in conjunction with other instruments, but when it is used it has a powerful presence and effect.

Its design is that of (as the name suggests) a disc. The disc is crafted from various metals and comes in various sizes, but all are equally easy to play. The large disc (which is hung from a wooden frame) is struck with a baton-like stick to produce a gargantuan noise that erupts like a storm throughout the performance hall, the reverberations of its presence lasting seemingly only to display its power.
 

TRICKLE CHIMES, THE
Trickle Chimes are cute little instruments that are very popular amongst Erpheronian children. They are constructed by attaching 13 small silver rods of different sizes (each with its own note in the "high" pantheon), to a wooden arch standing just over a handspan in height. Despite it having the musical capabilities to play some simple tunes, its sparkling little "tings" are just used to play an accending or decending glissendo. Usually this is achieved by running a wooden beater in a swift motion across the tiny chimes.
 

TWINKLE STARS, THE
Probably the sweetest instrument on this list, Twinkle Stars are the rather improbably delicate cousin of the Thunder Disc. In a whimsical competition at the School of Tunes in Bardavos, it was recently voted the most feminine Sarvonian instrument by the senior students... the Gittare being its most masculine counterpart, for those who want to know. Twinkle stars consist of twenty different sized star shaped pieces of aurium alloy, suspended in a random sequence and at varying heights from a sturdy, decorated black-iron frame. Note that twenty stars are the most common number, but these instruments have been designed with anything from three to over a hundred.

The stars are numbered in order of the pantheon note that they play (low Ey being the first, generally). They are played by hitting the stars with two small wooden beaters with fur-coated ends, which stops the stars reverberating uncontrollably. The percussionist's left hand will play the bass notes and the right the treble counterparts; the two often play simultaneously resulting in a beautiful harmony. Its pretty twinkling tones are highly appreciated by the elven-kind, but you will never find a Thergerim tapping away at this dainty instrument.
 

VINDEKETTES, THE
A very simple and ancient instrument with a simple sound to match. Basically they are two small wooden cups, each attached to a leather strap; the leather straps are slipped around the percussionist's hands with the cups standing upright on both palms. The percussionist will then clap the two cups together, creating a loud clacking noise that can even be heard through the orchestra's superior amplitude.
 

WOBBLE CURTAINS, THE
A cheeky and devilishly simple instrument, with a sound like no other. Anyone with a pair of functioning hands could easily craft one of these instruments, for the main and only component of a Wobble Curtain is a large, thin sheet of cheap metal. For the sake of the "performer's" skin, a simple handle is generally smithed onto one edge. If shaken in a fanning motion, the Wobble Curtain produces a wobbling warble which has a jolly, infantile effect. Not generally appreciated by serious musicians for its cheeky sound, Wobble Curtains are far more often used in children's theatre productions, Black Butterfly Rovers' acrobatic demonstrations, and as accompaniment to jesters' and jongeleurs' performances.
 

Although many members of the percussion section may not be considered as real instruments by snobbish musicians, they all have their own unique sound, attitude, and character. The next time you attend a musical recital, take the time to tilt your ear towards the back of the hall and appreciate these unsung heroes - the "knights of the percussion table"!

 Date of last edit 1st Fallen Leaf 1667 a.S.

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