Music of Ice and Fire

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with the Order of the Maesters of the Citadel knows there are plenty of subjects to study and links to forge, yet music has never been one of them. ‘Music is best left to those who can perform it’ is something heard from the wise Maesters at the Citadel, while other not so wise usually make no attempt at hiding their scorn for the subject, as they deem the sacred music of the Sept as the only music worth their time. For this reason I, Maester Ludwig, gave up my interest in music a sa a young novice and devoted myself to becoming a worthy of a Maester of the Citadel. It was so for many years until the year 286 AC, when after many years of service to the citadel I had found myself reflecting time and time again on the nature of music. As a grown man (some might say an old man) I saw no reason to hide my interest for the subject anymore. I realized that the prevalence of these views was probably due to a common fault found among many a Maester: the only subjects worth studying are those found on the pages of old books, in old libraries. Many books boast long compilations of songs accrued for hundreds of years but to my knowledge there aren’t any books written on the subject of music itself (at least not about music other than the sacred psalms sung at the Septs). This realization came to me at an opportune moment, as had it come at an earlier time in my life, I wouldn’t have been prepared to undertake such a task. Now links of yellow gold and bronze on my chain account for my knowledge of mathematics and history, indispensable to understand any musical system. My silver link has allowed me to travel far and wide across Westeros and Essos while earning the necessary coin by putting my knowledge of the human body and its afflictions to good use. While my hearing is not as subtle as it was in my youth, I can hold a tune in my ear for an entire day before I find a moment to write it down on paper.

And so, this present volume is the result of 12 years of musical research across Westeros and Essos. It has been a most arduous task to write about music one has never heard, such as the music of the forgotten Sarnori Empire or the songs sung by the Children of the Forest, but if one is to understand the music of the present, it is only fit to look back at the past, for the music heard nowadays at an inn in the Riverlands or in a fighting pit in Mereen didn’t come out of nowhere. Still, writing about music is not the same listening to said music, and the challenges of such prospect are numerous and the risks high, for it is easy to praise with words the beauty of the music I heard at the noble houses of Qarth but it is my desire to give the reader a chance to understand in depth the real intricacies of the peoples. For this reason I have written descriptions of the music, the instruments, the forms, and the traditions as well as notated the music in the common style of the Septons of the music of the Seven, as any person reading this volume will probably be familiar with said style of notation (and is the only one I am capable of using). Different types of sources have gone into this volume, the most reliable and least exotic being the books found in the old library of the Citadel of Old Town. These texts deal mainly with the sacred music of the Andals from the moment of the invasion of Westeros. To understand better the music of the North I traveled to said kingdom and stayed in Winterfell for a year, perusing through the library, and riding across the land meeting their people and hearing their accounts of how their songs came to be. The continent of Essos would be a much longer and difficult endeavor. Embarked on a journey with nothing more than quill and paper I visited the Free Cities, Slaver’s Bay, the Dothraki Sea, and Qarth, ready to document the different music I encountered. I visited as many flea markets as possible, trying to find old and old-fashioned instruments that might give me an inkling as to what music used to be played in the past. After a couple of years, I found myself carrying more artifacts than the mules of the merchants I was buying from, so I had to arrange a ship to take my trove of instruments across the Narrow Sea back to Old Town. Two more shipments with instruments, and old books from Volantis and Qarth followed in the coming years. Upon returning to Old Town 7 years after my departure I found out to my dismay that fewer than a third of my instruments and books had survived the crossing. Nevertheless, enough survived that my memory did the rest when needed. After 4 more years of fiddling with my new collection of old instruments and much writing and rewriting, I consider this volume finished, hoping it will bring many future scholars to appreciate this source of beauty in our vast world.

~ Turn the page to Westerosi Culture ~