The Tosi Empire, imposing, militant, orderly, with advanced metallurgy. It was this combination that drew them to aggressive brass and percussion instruments for use on the battlefield.
Tosi instrumental music developed from slide brass. Because of this, they are firmly based on the most easy-to-reach harmonic series and slide positions. Tosi music only has 6 distinct tones in their inventory: A B C E F# G, but by starting on different notes this gives them 6 different modal scales. When compared to the European trombone, each of these pitches falls on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th slide positions. Without the need for slide positions higher than 4, the slides can be significantly shorter and more compact, an advantage for military travel.
Though they developed piston technology some time ago for non-musical purposes, the Tosi have always preferred slide brass to valves. Even their tuba-range brass use double-coiled slides. All Tosi instruments are portable, often attaching to or wrapping around the body, and can be disassembled for easy transport. There are various sizes of brass instruments that cover different ranges. The tenor ranged member is called the Kāvinēke (from “Warmouth”)
Tosi percussion consists of a battery of metal frame drums. Skins are made from animal hides, having more of a dull concussive attack rather than a discernible tone. Small metal plates are tightly woven into the underside of the head, which serves to further emphasize the harsh attack. Large bass frame drums are attached to a handle and played with a wood batter, these are reminiscent of the Yup’ik Inuit “Qilaut”. Smaller frame drums are mounted to the chest and played with two sticks.
For pitched percussion, a rack of small gongs are mounted in a portable chassis and typically carried by two low-ranking soldiers (or those being mildly admonished: “gong duty” is a light punishment). Attempts to make gong racks more portable have been successful, but the military uses the original method largely out of tradition.
Six squarish symbols represent the notes of the Tosi scale and are placed on a vertical grid of beats and measures. Lines below the symbols are used to indicate note duration, and glides to neighboring pitches. Gaps between notes represent silence, so no rest symbol is needed.
Octaves are represented by a hollow square and solid circle on the symbol’s interior. In curious contrast to the Tosi’s usual strict regimentation, it’s expected that intonation be only loosely followed, in order to create a fuller, dissonant ensemble sound.
Tosi Music Examples
Gotevian instrumental music originates from simple whistles and reeds whose keys are fixed (like many renaissance recorders, folk harps and harmonicas). A single instrument can only play in one key, though that extends to the 3 other relative modes. To allow for a greater variety of keys, there are three variations of each instrument, allowing for a total of 12 different scales. The “Ka” family (C-based), the “Vi” family (F-based), and the “Nu” family (G-based).
Gotevian songs revolves around 7-notes scales in 4 different modes:
- “Oirhain” (Summer) - Mixolydian
- “Hostirr” (Winter) - Dorian Minor
- “Hostirr Karth” (Dark Winter) - Natural Minor
- “Thre (Spring)” - Major
The dominant seventh plays a vital role in the sound of Gotevian music, so much so that they crafted unique instruments that produce two tones, the root and the b7. It is treated less like an interval, but more like a timbre. The “Hosnawir” or “Coiled Snake” consists of two intertwining pipes, the shorter being 55% the length of the longer, thus sounding a b7 up. Precisely positioned finger holes allows the player to open and close both pipes at once, so the two tones are always locked. The mouthpiece consists of two single- reads (like a clarinet), each feeding into its own pipe.
Early notation began as whistle tablature: series of stacked circles representing open and closed holes. As the selection of instruments became more complex and varied, instrument- specific tablature gave way to numerals (1 through 7), where each musician would translate into the fingering position for their instrument. Unlike Western European notation, where note-names represent set pitches, Gotevian numerals are movable, were “1” always represents the starting key of the song. This would be like if we called “C” the root of every scale, irregardless of its key. Also unlike European notation, scales degrees are numbered from the top down, with “1” being the top of the scale, and “8” being the low octave. This is because wind instrument work from the top down.
Note names and Gotevian “Solfege”
Though numerals are used in printed notation, Gotevians long adopted a series of single-syllable phrases to represent the scale degrees aurally. This is akin to “Solfege” or “movable do” used by most of western Europe. Beginning from the top down the spoken names are “Ka”, “Mo”, “Se”, “Vi”, “Nu”, “Li”, “Cha”.
Gotevian Music Examples
The Ríli have a rich oral history of music, with little to no written system. Children are encouraged to learn how to play from a young age, and join groups of adults in communal gatherings. Rílin instruments range greatly in complexity, with talented individuals graduating from a simpler instrument onto one of greater difficulty. Community music making is day-to-day aspect of Rílin culture, and features everything from tone poems to dance routines and virtuosic concerts. A guiding Rílin proverb speaks of music as “pílŭ be íyäla” or “painting with the unseeable”. Musicians are quick to explore new timbres, polyrhythms, and musical structures, often with the community joining in on their pursuits.
The most complex and prestigious Rílin instrument is the “Daghín” (derived from “hit string”), a wooden, cello-sized 6-string instrument that is played by tapping on large wooden frets. It features a very large bone bridge and nut that give each note a rich complex character. Since tapping produces a fairly quiet sound, the body of the instrument is unusually large and reverberant. To add to this, there are 15 sympathetic strings internally that further enrich and sustain the sound. It’s a difficult instrument to play, and expected to take on a variety of roles.
The “Zughín” (derived from “long string”) is a simpler 18-string harp typically taught to young children to teach group participation. It also includes sympathetic strings, though the sound is less pronounced.
Historically, Rílin music has been entirely oral, with no notational system. The concept is foreign and is said to go against some of their guiding artistic principals. However, with the newly formed cultural alliance between the Rílin subculture Sunuli and Gotevi, there have been some examples of Ríli music written using in Gotevian notation. However, the complexities of Rílin music are often incompatible with Gotevian notation, and has even challenged the Gotevi to expand their system.