Westerosi Culture

Before the arrival of the Targaryen dragon lords of Valyria, the Andals, even the First Men, there was music in Westeros. Music long gone and forgotten as much as those who had created it. Thousands of years separate us now, on the eve of the 3rd century after Aegon’s Conquest, from those times where the Children of the Forest, the Giants, and mayhap the Others once sung their music. No one can say how long ago it was when the First Men journeyed afoot the Arm of Dorne when Essos and Westeros were still one continent. They brought their primitive music to Westeros with them, but most importantly, they brought iron swords to the Children and iron axes to their Weirwood trees, and before long they had conquered all of Westeros. And still, in the end it was the First Men took the weirwood trees as their Gods, and withe them their songs too. Those ancient tunes can still be heard in The North, where the First Men guard their traditions as fiercely as they guard their now Old Gods. Thousands of years would pass before the Andals followed the First Men into Westeros, this time crossing the narrow sea. And just as the First Men brought iron to the Children, the Andals brought steel to the First Men. The Andals carved The South out of Westeros for themselves, where songs to their Seven Gods have been sung ever since until today. Westeros had still room for people and in time the Rhoynar would come ashore on the Dornish coast. Unlike the First Men with their iron and the Andals with their steel, the Rhoynar brought nothing but peace with them. Peace and songs from their distant lands along the banks of Mother Rhoyne. Soon enough the Dornish took up the Seven as their new Gods but they never forgot their songs. And when everything on the continent had been the way it had for as long as anyone could remember, a single family moved to an island off the coast of Westeros. A single family that would impact the continent as much as any of the previous migrations, if not more, for the Targaryen sang a song not of iron nor steel, but of fire.

In the upcoming chapters I will explore what can be known about the musical traditions of the peoples and creatures that lived and died on Westeros before our time. I will not discuss the current state of their musical traditions in this section of the book, but the origins of these traditions as we understand them now. An important disclaimer is that unlike my colleagues at the Citadel I do not pretend to know whether or not creatures like the Others ever existed and this volume does not pretend to serve as evidence. It is a mere collection of accounts and the inferences I have made based on such accounts. My journey began in Oldtown, of course, in the tear 285 After the Conquest. Only a few months prior, King Robert I Baratheon had just dethroned King Aerys II Targaryen after a year of bloodshed in a fashion unseen since the Blackfyre Rebellions. Having been born immediately after the Year of the Red Spring, and having never lived through a war up until that moment, I admit I had taken for granted the blessings of peace. For someone whose only relief after a day of book copying at the Citadel came through the performances of musicians, that year came as hard as a hammer blow. When war came to Oldtown the musicians of any talent who had courage left the city with the armies hoping to make some coin and gain some favor with the noble lords. Those lacking in talent and valor took to more lucrative means of sustenance, doubling the numbers of cutpurses in the city. For a year, all a man could hear in the septs were prayers to the Warrior, who even he must had had enough after only a month. Once the war was over, I decided to make good use of however long that peace would last and began my journey to Dorne. War had been gentler in Dorne than in the other Kingdoms and surely some musicians were still to be found there whose performances well deserve a trained pair of ears ready to take note of their art.

~ Turn the page to The Andals ~