New Player - Music Query


I’m planning on coming to Empire in July and joining a Wintermark group that is made up of my husband and friends, and I’m looking at potentially playing a scop character.

In the real world I am quite musical, and although my main instrument doesn’t quite fit the brief for Empire I was hoping to maybe bring along a consort of recorders (descant, treble, and tenor) to play. I’ve had a quick look around the Wiki and this seems to be ok, but I just want to check before going ahead and grabbing music etc… that I wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb if I did this?

Plus, if anyone has any tips/advice on playing instruments during game then I would be eternally grateful!

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Not in Wintermark, but recorders sound pretty good to me :slight_smile:

General tips:

  1. Don’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose. Between mud, tripping on things, accidently sitting down on them, and forgetting you had them in your pouch when you get into a fight, you can’t garauntee that your instruments will make it home. I mean, you’re probably fine, but…

  2. Carry them around to things. There’s many a social event or ritual or blessing improved by improvised incidental music!

  3. Make sure you have all the details when people ask you to play for something. I had a friend who agreed to help a ritual before the battle. So they stepped through the Portal, and did the ritual, and the army came in behind them and swept them along and into the battle… which is how the League ended up with a battlefield accordianist that time…

  4. Have fun and be awesome!


All music is welcome, and the more musicians the better.

As mentioned though don’t bring the precious ones, if nothing else the damp and changing temperatures aren’t good for most instruments let alone any accidents!

Don’t worry about them looking right either, as long as they’re not neon green no-one is going to mind if they’re vaguely natural coloured plastic.

If you are bringing music to play from it’s worth bringing a couple of clips to hold the pages against the breeze and some sort of book light for the evenings as fire light isn’t usually quite enough to read close lines of music. Again as long as the book light isn’t neon green everyone will ignore it in favour of there being more music!!

The wiki has a good selection, some with score, for your nation. Asking on the FB group for your nation may well get you some more repertoire. Filking is great (modifying an existing song to suit Empire) as is writing your own, and if you find something you love that just doesn’t fit your nation the usual excuse if that you heard it while travelling!

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Thank you for the advice! Hubby had said that he’d thought I’d be fine, but as a relatively new player he advised asking the forums just to make sure.

In regards to the instruments, I’ll be picking up some second hand ones from eBay for Empire use, so nothing too precious in case of damage. It’s also good to know that I don’t have to splash out for a more authentic wooden set!

I have been checking out the Wiki pages for music, they’re very useful! But I think I’m already planning on adding a ‘I have picked up songs from the nations’ element to my character :slight_smile:

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Although they may not be terribly Wintermark, you’ll see a lot of guitars around mainly because they are one very common amongst actual players, and they are one of the easiest instruments to use when it comes to accompanying yourself singing. So pipes of any form are great and no-one will bat an eyelid. I’d maybe avoid a trombone or saxophone, but otherwise you’re all good.

There are very good musicians and bards, and then there are very good scops. Sometimes those two overlap. I perform music, but I’ll be honest and say that I struggle with style, and some of what I do dips its toes into international waters or even goes a but barbaric at times. If you’re coming to E1 then you’ll be timing it very well, as we’re having something of a mini-festival wherein we celebrate Wintermark hospitality, and there will be a lot of scops performing in a variety of styles on the Saturday night. It’ll be a grand chance to meet others. If you are interested in seeing some more international musical tastings then I highly recommend heading to the Navarr camp at some point, as they have a Song And Story Time session on Saturday nights which is always great.

Unfortunately I can’t make it until E3 due to other commitments, but I am hoping to try and join up with a few other musicians while there.

I think I’ll still be sticking with my recorder selection as I don’t think my clarinet will fit in (plus it’s probably not worth risking taking it!), but maybe if I can get my violin skills back up to par then that might join me too.

In terms of scops and music, is it ok to just be a scop who just plays music and isn’t overly involved in story telling? Or, is it possible to be another style of character who happens to play music?

Can’t speak for wintermark specifically but plenty of people play or sing in the evenings just because they can and it’s nice to do round the fire, almost separate from their character’s goals or skills. My character collects song books as a hobby, but is a mage and healer by skills, so you don’t have to pick up the music archetype for your nation if you don’t want to.

Lots of mention of recorders on the wiki, though not specifically in the context of Wintermark:

On the other hand, quoting from

…so I would take that to mean a low recorder would be good too.
And if you do end up bringing your violin, Shetland style is great fun! And I’m not aware of any violinists/fiddlers in Wintermark at present (though when my League violinist character goes to visit he finds an appreciative audience there).

As for risks, I bought a cheap violin outfit for LARP and have been bringing it to PD events since about 2006 with no accidents so far. The bow (very cheap and nasty) warped/twisted after several years so I replaced it with a carbon-fibre one (it just looks black: not obviously synthetic).
I keep it in an old-fashed wooden “coffin” style case, which just about has room for a shoulder-rest in it alongside the neck of the violin.

For any musician, I suggest a pair of fingerless mittens or short-fingered gloves. Even at summer events it gets chilly at night.


I don’t think of anyone who doesn’t appreciate music regardless of how on brief it is. As long as its not obviously ooc (singing “you’re my Labyrinth wall” to the tune of wonderwall is allowed after an amount of drinks) no one will mind too much.

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Thank you for all the responses so far, I’m feeling a lot more confident about turning up in July with my music collection in tow :slight_smile:

I may even try and work on my violin skills between now to see if I can get myself back to sounding not too terrible (although I played from primary school to VI Form I’ve let my form slip in favour of focusing on woodwind!).

Hopefully I’ll see you all around later this year :slight_smile:


This is a really useful comment for me, thank you. I’m a Wintermark player and I’m planning on bringing my old violin to E1 for the first time ever. Will follow the resources you provided as I’d love to find more IC appropriate tunes to play.

For Shetland music we must be grateful to Tom Anderson: without him, the tradition would probably have died out and many tunes lost. He collected a lot of Shetland tunes and taught them to children, and I learned the style from one of them.

I recommend two of his books.

“Haand Me Doon Da Fiddle” has a lot of good tunes and a few hints about how to play them, though it doesn’t explain how to apply them to each tune individually… e.g. the tune Faroe Rum would be played in a “ringing strings” style: for the first line you would bow the A and D strings constantly except where the melody uses the E string, where you would bow the A and E strings. Then for the second line you would bow the A and E strings all the way through except for final D, where you’d play the open D under it.
The same concept is described in the book for the tune “Lay Dee at Dee”.

Another distinctively Shetland idiom is “lazy fingering”, leaving a finger down after playing a note to use it as an accompaniment to the next note, e.g. in “Willafjord” each time you play two tied quavers you can play them as a chord with the previous note.
You can do a similar sort of thing in places in the first half of “Da Merry Boys o’ Greenland”, where a hint of it is written in the book.

I think it’s out of print now, but you might be able to find a used copy, or maybe you could get one if you were to get in touch the “Department of Continuing Education” at the University of Stirling: they published it.
Alternatively, you can find a scanned copy on the web through a combination of web-search and the Wayback Machine.

The other book is “Ringing Strings” which is still available to buy, e.g. from Anderson, Tom - Ringing Strings