‘The blood of the First Men runs through The North’ is something Northern men like to remind southerners. Of course, the Old Tongue is no longer spoken in the Seven Kingdoms and the traditions of the First Men have slowly diluted with the passing of time, but the legacy of the First Men is still felt in The North and even parts of the South. In the coming chapters the focus will be on reconstructing the musical tradition of the First Men by looking at both the similarities and differences found in the music of the most direct descendants of the First Men: Northmen, Freefolk, Ironborn, and Mountain Clans. Seemingly different and yet bound by a common tradition their different cultures all trace back to the First Men one way or another. With this is mind it is important to ask the question of whether the First Men had their own musical tradition before arriving to Westeros via the Arm of Dorne, or if perhaps this tradition arose from the contact with the Children of the Forest. To ponder about the truth of something that may or may not have happened even before the Age of Heroes I concede is asinine, however, by simply asking the correct questions and looking at the evidence one can get to surprising conclusions.
Four out of five descendants of the First Men are the Northmen we know today. Given the large expanse of the kingdom of the North and its spare population northerners have a surprisingly cohesive culture. The harsh winter conditions force the communities to come together for survival and it creates a tighter integration that one might believe possible.
The Free Folk
On the other side of the Wall, the Free Folk (or Wildlings, as they are commonly known) spread over the land as their only means to survive, for they lack the organizational skills enjoyed south of the Wall. Each community has a much more distinct culture to it, and it is easy to classify them into tribes and clans, but in this volume, we will deal with them as a cohesive unit for sake of simplicity.
Traditionally the Ironborn have been lumped with the Northerners as First Men descendants out of convenience. Without any real basis for this categorization there have been those (especially Ironborn themselves), who dismiss this kinship and place the Ironborn in a category of their own. Comparing their musical traditions perhaps we can see if there is any true link between them.
One might not be too inclined to consider the possibility of there being any cultural value in the music of the Mountain Clans. This is of course until one considers the possibility that their songs are perhaps some of the oldest songs still sung in Westeros, and they offer the closest look at what the First Men might have been like after all.