The Crownlands

Introduction

There used to be many crown lands not long ago, but after the arrival of the Targaryen there was but one Crownlands. The region might be size of a kingdom but it is the capital city, King’s Landing, where the true power of the region resides. Though some might consider it backwater port city (especially the elites of competing trade ports such as Oldtown) the reality is that King’s Landing is responsible for much of the prosperity in Westeros in recent centuries. If Oldtown had served as the religious capital of the southern kingdoms since the arrival of the Andals to Westeros, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Targaryen that the Andals would have their first political capital on the continent. With the foundation of King’s Landing the Targaryen created a unique city in all the continent, one where all population had immigrated from other kingdoms and been forced to find common ground instead of holding grudges. These were ideal conditions for experimentation and the miscegenation of old traditions, especially Westerosi and Valyrian. This blend of Andalosi and Valyrian features is what we nowadays refer to as the Westerosi musical tradition. This quite ambiguous and misleading name seems ill-fitted, for it doesn’t cover all music on the continent, as in fact it excludes most music in the North and Dorne. In these regions other names are used instead in order to avoid confusion, with the most common one being the Andalosi musical tradition, which itself is confusing since the most pure form of Andalosi music is the religious music of the Faith of the Seven, which is precisely the type of Andalosi music meant to be excluded from the definition. In conversation with the peoples of Westeros and Essos I have used the term Andalo-Valyrian or Andalo-Targaryen term instead of the more ambiguous Westerosi term.

With the unification of the 7 kingdoms under the rule of the Iron Throne minstrels from all around the continent moved to the new capital looking for the favor of the new rulers, and those savvy enough to adopt Valyrian customs gained status the fastest. Soon enough the Red Keep was teeming with performers of all kinds, but it was singers that received the most favorable treatment. Before the Targaryen, musicians had been mere entertainment to kings at court, but Rhaenys Targaryen saw in them a mean to influence and sway subjects to the Targaryen cause. She was open-handed with them, and they replied in kind by composing epic-poems of the Targaryen conquest, their virtues, and might. This patronage had an enormous influence in the musical culture of the continent as singers had a patron willing to pay not just for a performance or even a new composition, but to cover the costs of producing books with the new compositions as a mean to spread these epic poems as far as wide as the books could travel. For the first time in Westerosi history non-secular music was being written down on parchment, with all sorts of ramifications this would have on. The tuning of instruments started to become more standardize than it had ever been before, meaning producing instruments also became more standardized across the continent. Today a minstrel from the Riverlands in need to repair his instrument while traveling through the Stormlands has no problems finding a luthier capable of repairing his instrument, but this is only thanks to said standardization. Of course, while standardization is less prevalent in the North and Dorne as a result of these kingdoms having distinct musical traditions of their own, the spread of this Andalo-Valyrian standard is becoming more and more the norm across the continent.

Instruments

While people nowadays associate King’s Landing with horns there was a time when the harp was the only instrument associated with the Targaryen dynasty. There is no indication that when the Targaryen arrived at Dragonstone, they brought any Valyrian harps with them, but other Valyrian houses did in fact bring some of their instruments. Lacking in Valyrian steel swords the house seemed to regard their Valyrian harps as one of their most valuable possessions. All Valyrian harps in Westeros today are copies of the these Velaryon harps but sadly it is believed the original ones were lost at some point, most probably during the conflictive years of the Dance of the Dragons. Of all the copies of the original harps the most famous one was Rhaegar Targaryen’s harp, a double-winged full-size harp that disappeared during Robert’s Rebellion. While it is possible that the harp was destroyed or stolen during the sack of King’s Landing, it is also possible that it was taken to Dragonstone at some point and smuggled to Essos alongside Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen but this is only mere speculation.

With harps being purely an accompanying instrument in the Valyrian tradition, it fell to horns to convey the image of power of the Reed Keep. Unlike the Valyrian harps of the Velaryons, there is no record of any authentic Valyrian horns being brought over to Westeros from Valyria, and most instruments played at the Reed Keep date from the reign of Jahaerys I. Maegor I Targaryen established the Gold Cloaks as the elite soldier force in charge of protecting the city but it wasn’t until the reign of Jaehaerys that a way to coordinate the movement of troops in the castle was devised. This came about in the form of large horns blasting fanfares far and wide across the city. Soon enough the townsfolk started to also use the horn calls coming from the Red Keep to keep time during the day. The unprecedented sudden interest in horns was a watershed moment in the history of the instrument. Up until that time most horns were usually made of animal horns such as rams and aurochs, but these would not suffice for the dashing new Red Keep towering over the city. With the long lasting peace that was the reign of Jaehaerys I Targaryen and no armies in need of armor or weapons smiths found themselves with time on their hands to fulfill the demand for a new type of instrument, one that could project a call with enough force to be heard across an entire city and with the ability to play clear notes at high dynamic ranges. The mines of the Westerlands, rich in zinc, tin, copper, and other metals too soft to be used for sword making supplied most of the materials. Every smith in the city tried to supply the court with their own version of the horn but it was a smith apprentice from Norvos named Mott who was successful in attaining royal favor for himself. After hearing about the frenzy that had taken over the King’s Landing, the smith apprentice created his horn taking inspiration from the many bells that ring out in the city at all times. His horn was the first one that we know of that features a wide bell at the end of the tubing, helping the sound project further and with more clarity than the horns of any other smith. After a long voyage to King’s Landing and an impressive demonstration of his newly made horn Jaehaerys was taken over by the bold new design and paid the smith a fabulous amount for the instrument. Not much more is known from the smith except that returned to Essos with enough wealth and prestige that he was able to finish his apprenticeship at Qohor, where he opened one of the most prestigious shops in the city. In time, the horn calls of the Gold Cloaks became a staple of the city, and many kings after Jaehaerys sought to expand the roster of horns. The original horn created by Mott had a total length of tubing no longer than six feet, but in time this length grew longer and longer, with the largest instruments reaching an impressive 18-feet long. The signals also grew in complexity, and the addition of keys gave the horn players the possibility of playing notes outside of the harmonic series of the tube. With the death of Queen Alysanne in 100 A.C. Jaehaerys ordered a funeral horn fanfare to be played during her cremation. In later times it became a Targaryen tradition to celebrate important events such as weddings and births, and cremations with horn fanfares, a tradition that persists up until today.

To list all horn calls used in the Red Keep and King’s Landing would be a considerable undertaking that perhaps might be of interest to some, but fort he sake of brevity I will simply show how calls have changed through time since the reign of Aegon the Conqueror.

One of the oldest calls that is still in use today is the one to receive the King into the Iron Throne during audiences. The original call is well preserved in its original form in books kept in the White Sword Tower (fig. a).

Just like a dragon, what once was a simple call grew larger and fiercer and became the majestic call we hear today (fig. b).

~ Turn the page to The Riverlands ~