Santharian Development

Santharian World Development => Miscellaneous => Topic started by: Petros Greenvale on 24 July 2007, 06:41:47

Title: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 24 July 2007, 06:41:47

The Black Birch Baton (Or more commonly referred to by younger bards, as the “Swarthystaff“) is a beautiful single reed, woodwind instrument widely used in orchestras, ensembles ,duets-trios e.t.c and most commonly as just a solo instrument. Its popularity is as a result of its distinct timbre, which in turn originates from the shape of its cylindrical bore and its flared bell.

 The Black Birch Baton has a very large compass of tones. Its lower register is mellow and refined where as its upper register is brilliant and shrill. The origins of this instrument have long since been forgotten, and as about a dozen tribes claim to be its creator it is difficult to research in depth. Although physical evidence suggests that the “Swarthystaff” was developed as a joint effort between the Humans and the Thergerim. Archives state that they  developed a lesser Black Birch Baton long before the modern instrument was even thought about, although not as advanced as its younger sibling, this Human/Thergerim instrument clearly lead to the development that we see today.


The Black Birch Baton is a long,elegant, Jet black wind instrument. The average Ah Black Birch Baton is 7 handspans long, but its relative instruments can range from 1 handspan to 1.3 peds. It has a thick cylindrical bore which is approximately 4 nailbreadths in diameter ( in the Ah variety) and a flared bell, it is these two features which help to produce its lucious sounds. The average Black Birch Baton has 8 fingerholes (6 front, 2 back) but instruments built for beginners usually only have 1 fingerhole in the back face, reducing the complexity of the fingering, although this "easy way out" elementary instruments have a much smaller pitch range than there more confusing counterparts.

The Black Birch Baton also boasts a complicated network of metal keys, which allow it to play a large variety of notes and registers. This maze of keys results in its fingering being complex and very difficult to learn, so the notes that a student Black Birch Batonist produces are usually accompanied by the occasional squeak or stutter.

The best Black Birch Batons are made of a single piece carefully hollowed out black birch. But they are more commonly found in 5 detachable pieces, these cheap and portable instruments are often used by students and travelling musicians but the sound and tonal quality is never up to the standards of their single piece cousins.

 There is not only a single type of  “Swarthystaff” however for it belongs to a family of around 12 other sizes, each with a unique pitch range, key and authenic (the note it plays without holding down any keys)  ranging from the Soprantulisa (Modernly nicknamed the Trilobee) playing in Que to the Octacontrabassi Playing in Ey. The majority of this large family are rarely used and the Most common is the one described above, The Ah Black Birch Baton ("originally" named, for the Ey a Black Birch Batonist would play would be the equivelent to an Ah on a resonance organ).

The pitch range of a black birch baton depends on the type and length of instrument being played. For instance a Soprantulisa Black Birch Baton has a smaller but higher pitch range than its Ah sibling.

Here is a table of all the Orchestrally used members of the black birch baton family, their size and pitch range. (note that the majority of these instruments are rarely used and the range can often differ from crafter to crafter.)

1.5 Handspans
2 Handspans
3.2 Handspans
5 Handspans
7 Handspans
1 Ped
Bore Diameter
12 Grains
21 Grains
30 Grains
2 Nailbreadths
4 Nailbreadths
6 Nailbreadths
Pitch Range
Mid Goh/True Fo
Mid Os/High Que
Mid Re/High Eh
Low Je/High Eh
Deep Eh/High Eh
Deep Ba/Low Que

The Black Birch Baton has a wide dynamical compass to compliment that of its variety of tones. Although the Black Birch Baton is generally classified as a loud instrument because quite alot of physical effort is needed to get a sound out of its reed, as a result of its amplitude  it is often played outdoors at dances e.t.c and there is usually only two per orchestra.


These beautiful wind instruments are usually constructed by human tribes, such as the Centoraurians. But some of the most masterfully crafted instruments have been made by the hands of a Thergerim or Elf. There is no particular region where black birch batons are constructed but the densest concentration of workshops is in Central Sarvonia.

Black Birch Batons (as the name normally suggests!) are hand crafted from exquisite but sturdy black birch. However some woodworkers have tried to construct them with different types of wood, but the tonal quality was never the same. The best Black Birch Batons are traditionally made from a single piece of wood which is hollowed out using a complicated method, but for the sake of speed, money and portability, cheaper instruments are made in five detachachable pieces, The mouthpiece, barrel, top joint, lower joint and bell.

 The keys are added onto the instrument by a specially trained professional due to its high complexity and the fact that that if the keys are a just 0.5 grains off the whole sound is ruined. On the best (single piece) instruments the keys are usually made of specially selected aurium, but on their "more affordable" siblings they are usually steel or bronze. And this is all topped off with a reed made from carefully cut Boombox Palm, the thickness depends on the players ability, strength 0 is for absolute beginners, 1 or 2 for students, and so on until 7 which is for the master players allowing them to access the full potential of their instrument. A fully finished “Swarthystaff” is a beautiful sight indeed, with its shining keys and luscious black bore, so after the strenuous building process the majority of players agree that it was worth it!


 The sound of this instrument is created when air is pushed past the sharp edge of the Boombox Palm single reed causing it to vibrate, thus creating the sound. Changes of pitch are acquired by covering up the fingerholes, or by pressing one of the complicated networks of keys. These keys operate by lowering a circular piece of metal with a pad on the bottom, so that it is covering a hole in the bore. They are usually pressed by tilting the hand slightly so that the side of a finger comes into contact with it, or by simply being pressed by the left hand pinky.

 There are 8 finger holes in total, 6 on the front which are operated by the fingers and two on the back which are operated by the thumbs. The thumbs are free to move at will because unlike other wind instruments the whole instrument is supported by the left hand pinky, which is neatly tucked under a small hook. Pantheon changes are obtained by removing the thumbs from their finger holes, in a certain combination.

In order to extract the most refined sounds from a Black Birch Baton you will first have to master its peculiar embouchure. The bottom lip is brought up so that it covers the bottom teeth and the reed and mouthpiece rest on top of the lip, the player will then bite down on top of the mouthpiece and make sure everything is sealed by lowering the top lift to cover it. It sounds complicated when written, but it is a fairly simple technique when taught by a tutor.


The Compendium writer apologises, for he states in advance that this section is not going to be anything but long, for all that basically needs to said is that the Black Birch Baton can be used in basically any musical situation, and in many musicians opinion it is probably the most versatile of all instruments  (apart from the resonance organ of course!). Although it isn't the most "folky" of instruments. It can be found in orchestras, ensembles, the occasional  folk group ,duets trios etc, accompaniment and solo, so im not surprised if you are sick of the sight of it! Probably the most famous use for the “Swarthystaff” was as the solo part for the *Avas dream* suite for Black Birch Baton and resonance organ by Allegro Aninus. This is probably one of the most emotionally vivid pieces ever embedded on manuscript, for the Beautiful tones of the Black Birch Baton mesh splendidly with the lovely drones of the resonance organ, they compliment each other quite nicely!

 Despite there being only two per orchestra (because sadly composers don't usually take advantage of the beautiful sounds of this instrument.)  that is all that's needed, for its graceful notes can often be heard sailing above the heavy slurring of the bowed strings. In the Orchestra there will be a first Swarthystaff who will play the melody and a second who will be the harmonious accompaniment, usually these parts will be altered so that the glorious first part is shared equally but if there is one player who has a much greater experience than the other it will often be the latter who will solely play the second part.

 Although the black birch baton is a more human orientated instrument many other races are giving in to its luscious sounds, particularly the Thergerim ( some of the best sounding Swarthystaff choirs are practice deep within the heart of a volcano!!) the elves however do not usually take this as their instrument of choice, and so they stick to their delicate flutes.

(the compendium writer apologises for his digression)

Origin and History

The Origins of this instrument are fairly murky, but it has been accepted that its creation was thanks to a Human/Thergerim partenership some Centuries ago. The first primitive Black Birch Baton was crafted in around 956 a.s by two musical crafters Aeheldred the Thergerim metalworker and Bellatrix the Centoraurian musician and woodworker. These two craftsmen both had the same dream, to create a wind instrument free from the shackles of single pantheons, and so they put their differences aside and gave their own area of expertise into this project. Bellatrix was famous for her amazing woodwork and theoretical knowledge, and she gave the black birch baton a wonderful bore and flared bell allowing it to have a wider compass of tones and its rich Timbre. And Aeheldred was a talented Theregrim metal worker and he gifted the black brich baton with beautiful and complex keys, allowing it to change freely from pantheon to pantheon. Their finished creation was a fair sight indeed.  The First ever Black birch Baton was created in a small workshop just outside Bardavos.

Word soon spread around all Santharia about this wondeful new wind instrument. By 1050 The black birch baton was one of the most popular instruments among all races and classes, There were already 15 different types of Black Birch Baton that had sprung into the world. (3 of these have been lost from all record) and you could never go to far without hearing the luscious tones of a Black Birch Baton. Over the years it has been improved and more keys and finger holes have been added allowing the modern player to access more potential from this instrument. Infact a new version of the Black Birch Baton is in the works, deep inside the school of tunes in Bardavos, whenever this new and exciting model will be revealed is a mystery, but keep your ears open! Although still a very popular instrument, its usage has sadly greatly decreased over the years and less people are deciding to take advantage of this beautiful wind instrument (and all wind instruments for that matter! strings are becoming too popular these days!)

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 24 July 2007, 11:33:37
you cant say i didnt ask... ;)

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: xerampelinae deicida on 24 July 2007, 17:49:28
You should add some more details about this instrument. It would be nice for people reading about its sound to know where they could go to hear it. A history section would be nice too it doesn't have to be real lengthy but you could at least tell us where it was first played. Are their any musicians that have achieved any degree of fame at least among big fans of this instrument?

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Bard Judith on 24 July 2007, 20:43:47
Very fun!  Based on an oboe?

  I developed / am developing alternative classes for musical instruments within Santharia; we don't have 'percussion/woodwind/strings' per se - but I can't remember just what I was proposing to do with that.  I'll have to go back and look - gimme some time, ok?

The alternate name should be simpler and more euphonious - sounds a bit too contrived and 'arithmeticky' atm.

How about:



Birchone (which somehow SOUNDS like the name of a musical instrument)

Blaebirton (a deliberate compression of the full name, pronounced 'BLAY-beer-tun')

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 24 July 2007, 21:20:55
An oboe is a double reed instrument, so...its probably more Clarinetty. ;)

lovin the ideas...hope you dont mind if i pinch one of them!! :P :heart:

i was also thinking the: Trinibee

thanks for your comment bard!! :hug:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Decipher Ziron on 24 July 2007, 22:03:04
I was always partial to Oboemaphone :grin:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 25 July 2007, 21:57:39
Youve inspired me, i think ill do an entry on a double reed, suspended bore instrument. :)

but ill wait until this and the Aellenrhim harp have been commented on and approved! *hint,hint!! ;)*

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 06 August 2007, 11:42:21
Achhh its soo frustrating!!!! :angry:

Please can anyone tell me if there is anyway i could get my wee table to fit into the board? ive been trying for literally 2 hours but it wont fit in!!! :cry:

Guess its just bad luck!! :) :heart:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 06 August 2007, 14:16:32
I had the same problem with my schedule for the festival...Khel formatted it for me, but even then, it did not look right to me until I made the screen wider by clicking the claws at the top, on either side of your name.  This will hide the indexes on either side of the page.  Might help you.

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 07 August 2007, 09:06:35
FINITO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hooray!! :grin: :cool:
ive altered my entry to fit into Geans awesome new template and ive added quite a wee bit too!

Thanks so much Altario, i took your advice and now i have a pretty wee table! :)

By the way any feedback would be soooo grand cause id love to get this approved sometime in the near future!! :heart:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 07 August 2007, 09:20:49
hmm...I can't get the table to look right...and I get a lot of [/td][/tr][/table]'s in my page.... :undecided:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 07 August 2007, 09:25:13
achhh i spoke to soon!!! :angry: :cry: :grin:
is this any better?...

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on 07 August 2007, 09:30:11
Coming along..still a little crooked though...Khel is on in the RP side, maybe give her a ring...she did mine for the festival, have you looked at it?

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 07 August 2007, 09:36:07
i think i might just do that !! :)
oh wow your table is like soooo neat!
puts mine to shame. :P

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 07 August 2007, 11:01:42
HOORAY!!! :grin:  my wee table is FINALLY complete!!!
ooooh look at all the pretty colours!

Thanks so much to Khel the table master and Altario the very helpfulcool guy!!! :heart: :hug:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 10 August 2007, 05:38:18
Ok, as the music folks seem to be away, I try to take a look at this one as far as I can, Petros. At least I was a flugelhorn (my dictionary says that's the correct translation for the German "Flügelhorn") player at the village's band in my teens :)

- It took a while for me to get it that "Beetimesthree" obviously stands for the 3 Bs in "Black Birch Baton". Solution: mention it explicitly

- It's "referred", not "reffered".

- Also mention the various names of the instrument in the first lines of the Overview part, like "Blachbirton", as this one suddenly appears out of nowhere. I also like your suggestions: Trinibee and Trilobee. These sound really lovely to me. Maybe - as they sound a bit diminuitive - they could be smaller versions of the instrument?

- You have several suggestions on how to write our dwarves: Theregrim, Thergrim - better use Thergerim!

- Always write "black birch baton" in the instruments entry as "Black Birch Baton" - guess I told you already last entry.

- I  can't say if there are "Ah" varieties of that instruments and what "playing in Ey" means, that's something for our bards to decide and to nail down.

- You write that mostly the "Eylians" (I assume you mean "Eyelians") produce such instruments, but I wouldn't be os sure about that. The instrument combines metal technology with wood, and the Eyelians are more a nature loving tribe (Red Indians based). And it's difficult to imagine them as the main producers of Black Birch Batons...

- You need to avoid "I" in Compendium entries. Lexicon entries are written in an objective way - you can quote various subjective views for example, but the tone needs to stay objective.

- Using "annonymous" as the creator of the "Avá's Dream" suite doesn't sound convincing. How about inventing a name and sketch a famous bard celebritiy that way? A little Santharian Beethoven?

- Especially as you use the term "orchestra" this all sounds very modern to me. Another reason to place the invention of this instrument in a more recent time. Nowadays there might be orchestras at the Santhran's court in New-Santhala, but this surely was different in ancient times.

Origin and History.
- If you read it the first time you don't notice who's the dwarf and who isn't in "Aeheldred and Bellatrix".

- Creation of this rather techincal instrument in 856 b.S. also seems very ancient to me, which I personally find pretty unrealistic. The clarinette for example was invented in the time of the Baroque (1600 and 1750), so it is a pretty new instrument. We should try to keep it similar to maintain realism. Humans and dwarves also weren't that close together before Santhros. Would also good to place these inventors somewhere in our world.


So basically aside from the mentioned suggestions, the technical side still needs to be confirmed by our bards - then I don't see many problems with this one :)

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 15 August 2007, 07:01:59
You played the Flugelhorn Artimidor? Thats sooo cool!! :D do you still play?
im more of a woodwind person myself but i think you earn the right to becom my B-Flat Buddy,Yayy!!! :grin:
i ironed out most of the bugs, like all the Back Birch baton caps. and i altered some bits to make them more fluid.

Thanks for your comment B-Flat buddy!!! :heart: :fish:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 15 August 2007, 14:51:20
No, I don't play Flugelhorn anymore - my musical career ended with 17 or so when the workload I had to do for school increased. I even had a trumpet at home - maybe it is still in the attic somewhere... :) Before that I had learned melodica ( by the way for a few years, don't know if these instruments even still exist today.

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 15 August 2007, 19:12:54
Achh well, thats a shame...remember, theres always time for music Artimidor!! :grin:
The melodica sound cool were a right wee musical lad back in the day! :D

dont fancy some virtual clarinet lessons do you...well ill need your pin number and bank details first of course... :lol:  :P

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 18 August 2007, 07:23:38
Sorry to br a wee nuisence...Again!! :grin:
but it would be GRAND if someone could put a wee comment here and there, cause i would really like to get this finished, so i can start other things! :D

Thanks for reading this far!! :) :heart:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 25 August 2007, 05:48:52
Artimidor!!! :grin: :heart: (putting this here cause i didnt know where else to post it)
Do you know when the next update will be fair Webmaster? :)

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 25 August 2007, 06:01:04
Next update - if everything works well - will be Sunday in a week.

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 25 August 2007, 06:05:22
Thanks Art! :heart: Better get to work on some things! :cool: *Skips off happily, humming "Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho its of to work we go" *

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 01 September 2007, 01:56:51
Spell checked!!! teehee!!! :heart: :grin:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 14 September 2007, 00:14:05
*sighs* Sorry again, but this is quite frustrating. Can some one please comment on my instruments. I have bellrung and PM'd the Bard and Gean several times, and i even PM'd Allyse a couple of times, yet i get not even the teeniest wee bit of response? Im not asking for much, just a wee line or two would make me very happy! Sorry, i know im beggining to sound like a naggy, impatient wee apprentice who doesnt know when to shutup, but ive been waiting for weeks. Id LOVE to at least get something approved, so i can start other works. :heart: :)

Thanks for your time, and sorry again! :heart: :hug:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Gervase Bertrand on 14 September 2007, 00:41:34
Wow perhaps my mage will have to take up an instrament!

Excellent work my friend!

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 14 September 2007, 00:58:14
See thats all im asking for! *hugs Gervase* :heart:

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 14 September 2007, 05:01:44
I tend to integrate entries I like that have been sitting around for a while, lacking comments. So unless there are further comments that require a bunch of changes, this one will go up next update!

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 14 September 2007, 05:57:25
YAY!! :heart: *hugs Artimidor* :hug: :grin: *Toddles off to finish the divinity flute*

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Artimidor Federkiel on 22 September 2007, 16:21:35
Marked for integration then!

Title: Re: The Black Birch Baton.
Post by: Petros Greenvale on 22 September 2007, 22:55:30
Cool, Thanks Arti!! :D :hug:

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