The Gehennese have all sorts of music: dance-music, sacred music, chamber-music, songs, ballads, lullabies, and incidental music in theatre. Their music is mostly in pentatonic scales, like folksongs or chinese music, though more sophisticated forms include ‘accidentals’.

A gamelan (Gehennese orchestra) includes double-reed pipes, fipple flutes (rather like recorders), drums and cymbals, zithers, and harps, and various sets of tuned percussion instruments, resembling timpani, xylophones, and tubular bells. Sometimes a syrinx or a banjo is added for a particular effect.

In the Classical Period and (even more) in the Decadent Period, orchestral music is polyphonic and polyrhythmic, weaving intricate and subtle textures of counterpoint and syncopation.

The strings and the wind instruments have a special relationship, a sort of opposition originating in the association of stringed instruments with Vesper and technical virtuosity, and of winds with Amaranth and musical passion. Some orchestral pieces have duels between strings and wind. The banjo, an instrument introduced from overseas in the Classical Period, is thought comical, a sort of mockery or satire of Vesperian music.

The ability to play a musical instrument is a valued accomplishment in the upper classes, and is essential for certain priests. Professional musicians, on the other hand, are usually of quite low status. See minstrel and hetaira.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.