Finola: Have you noticed a shop that wasn’t there yesterday? Now in Stonetree for a limited time you can find a mysterious magical shop, selling all variety of unusual items. What will you find within? A magic sword, which will set you on a quest of destiny? Cursed objects, which will throw your neighborhood into chaos? Some really nice luggage? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to see what you can find, by visiting the strange shop you’re sure wasn’t there yesterday, and which won’t be there tomorrow when you go back! All sales final.
Arenthaer: It is amazing what can be done with magic these days, but some magical disciplines move faster than others. Take necromancy, for example. No-one has done anything new in necromancy for years… until now. On this Modern Magic, we visit with Erdan Gald, to talk about his Undead Orchestra becoming an Undead Symphony!
Arenthaer: So, Erdan, what is the difference between an orchestra and a symphony?
Erdan: Well, the main difference is the wind section. A symphony needs a wind section, and that’s why we haven’t had one… until now.
Arenthaer: Ah. Yes. because the only undead servants you can bring into the city are skeletons, who, of course, have no lungs to power wind instruments.
Erdan: Yes. But I have devised a method of allowing my skeletons to play wind instruments.
Arenthaer: Really? I sort of imagine that it involves using a bellows to power the instruments?
Erdan: Ha! We did try that. It didn’t quite work, with one notable exception…
Erdan: Okay, trumpets go!
SFX: Horrible wheeze
Erdan: Hmm. Flutes?
SFX: Barely a whisper..
Erdan: (sigh) Fine. Bagpipes?
SFX: Robust bagpipe sounds.
Erdan: Of course. It would be the bagpipes that work.
Arenthaer: Uh, bagpipes aren’t common in symphonies, are they?
Erdan: No. They tend to overpower the other instruments.
Arenthaer: So, it’s not bellows, what did you do?
Erdan: Well, obviously just bellows wouldn’t work. But you see, a lung is basically just a bellows already…
Arenthaer: In that it takes in and expels air?
Erdan: Exactly! But, it’s all the other things that make the instrument go. The faces and whatnot.
Arenthaer: Ye gods…
Erdan: It was a somewhat interesting conversation at the leather workers…
Leatherworker: What do you mean you want a face? Like a human face?
Erdan: Uh. Approximately? It doesn't need to be made from human… or any sapient species for that matter. It just needs to look and behave like a face.
Leatherworker: (Heavy sarcasm)What a comforting clarification. Are you asking for a mask?
Erdan: Sort of? I need it to have… articulated lips.
Leatherworker: Ok… any particular face?
Erdan: Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll need each one to fit a different skull. And I’ll need it to have spaces for toe bones in the lips part.
Leatherworker: (Flatly) What.
Arenthaer: (Confused) What?
Erdan: Ok, to be fair, I did not explain it very well. See, if we have a facsimile of a face, we can articulate it using a bit the skeleton doesn’t really need. For example, the toe bones.
Arenthaer: So, a leather face, with toe bones in the lips. Was there a whole face? Did you get marble eyes put in or were there holes?
Erdan: We tried it both ways, and to be honest, I’m not sure which was worse. Then we tried just everything below the nose...
Arenthaer: That… sounds like it would look really disturbing.
Erdan: It did! And it also did not work.
Erdan: It isn’t just lips and lungs that enable instrument playing, there’s another somewhat critical piece.
Sfx: Shop bell
Erdan: So I also need tongues…
Leatherworker: No! Get out!
Erdan: So mechanical solutions were out.
Arenthaer: I mean. I know how I would do it with sound magic, but obviously, I already know you didn’t ask me. And I’d be a bit hurt if you went to some other sound magic wizard. ...You didn’t, did you?
Erdan: No! Of course not! ...Wait… are there other sound magic wizards?
Arenthaer: My own brother, ladies and gentlemen.
Erdan: No. Using sound magic might as well be a recording, and I want the symphony to be all acoustic. Well, as much as possible.
Arenthaer: So what did you end up doing?
Erdan: Well, you know how some undead can talk?
Arenthaer: What. like, ghosts?
Erdan: Yes, but some skeletal undead can as well. They have just as much flesh and lungs as the ghosts, so why not? A talking skeleton is much harder to make, but I am a very good necromancer.
Arenthaer: Ok, but I’ve fought undead. Those voices aren’t actual… sounds, as it were. It’s more like broad spectrum low level telepathy that our brains interpret as sounds. So the “voices” wouldn’t provide any resonance for instruments.
Erdan: You’re right. So what I have done, is given them the instruments, and then had the skeletons impersonate the sounds of the instruments with their “voices.”
Arenthaer: The Undead Symphony’s wind section is composed of acapella skeletons?
Arenthaer: Amazing. I, unlike your skeletons, am speechless.
Erdan: Would you like to hear a small sample of the results?
Arenthaer: Y-yes! I think that the audience at home would need to hear it to believe it. So now, on Kingdom of Stonetree Broadcasting, we present, Erdan Gald the Necromantic Conductor and his Undead Symphony!
SFX: A song. Night on Bald Mountain but with ghostly voices and spooky reverb. (This bit doesn't work at all written down, does it?)
Arenthaer: Wow. That’s… really something else.
Arenthaer: Ok, I know what you’re all thinking. You could hear the voices, but also the actual instruments. I sat on this interview for two weeks, and I couldn’t figure it out. So I had to call Erdan.
Arenthaer: Hey. So, just a little follow up to our interview we did for modern magic.
Erdan: Did you realize that acapella skeletons made no sense? And that you could definitely still hear instruments?
Arenthaer: Yes. So how?
Erdan: Well, the acapella skeletons thing was true, and it was the next thing I tried, but, to be honest, about half the skeletons were very bad singers. So I thought about it a little differently. Do you know what makes an instrument make sound?
Arenthaer: Resonance in the instrument shakes the air, and the vibration is what we perceive as sound. For the wind instruments this is caused by the air passing through and modulated with holes and valves and such.
Erdan: Right. But is air passing through the only way to make it vibrate like that?
Arenthaer: …Yes? … No. I suppose if you could make it resonate on its own…
Erdan: Yeah. So I put a little of the same animating force I use for the skeletons into the instruments. They literally play themselves!
Arenthaer: So your undead symphony has a haunted wind section? Why bother with the skeletons there at all?
Erdan: Presentation! The symphony looks better if there’s someone, or something, holding the instruments, and frankly, I think having them sing along is pretty funny.
Arenthaer: You know what? Is is actually. It is also… a modern magical marvel!
Erdan: Nice. Worked the title in there. Good job.
Arenthaer: You've been listening to modern magic on Kingdom of Stonetree Broadcasting!