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Choristers of Cantiarch's Hold.

The Music of Highguard

Style summary

Highguard's music draws its inspiration from Western church choral music, plainsong and shapenote music (also known as Sacred Harp). Of these, the last probably best exemplifies the musical style - Highguard music is robust and enthusiastic, and accessible to all levels of talent. They enjoy rich harmonies and proudly devotional texts, although amongst themselves a wicked sense of humour occasionally emerges in some soldiers' songs and there are also some surprisingly tender lullabies.

Commonly known songs

Popular with all strata of Highguard society, these three songs are heard in chapters, the necropolis, and the fields. It is when the army marches to war with its battle choir, however, that the full majesty of Highguard music is best displayed.

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Highguard's music is robust and enthusiastic, accessible to all levels of talent.

A musical tradition

The Highguard Battle Choirs are a great imperial tradition - no nation matches to battle with the same holy fervour in their singing. Usually accompanied by a single drumbeat, the sound of the Highguard army in full voice is an awe-inspiring and intimidating sound. Often a small number of more confident singers lead the chant in a call-and-response pattern. At least in this context the choirsters are warriors first and musicians second - the singers need not be particularly talented, as it is holy fervour and their indomitable will that characterises the battle choir.

One for the kids

Songs about notable people and entities in Highguard

Further examples

Songs

Instrumentation

  • Highborn musical traditions favour the flute and other wind instruments. On days when the wind is high, a chapterhouse resounds with the song of wind chimes, aeolian harps and bells.
  • Trumpets and bugles are often blown before a battlefield charge.

Other performance traditions

How to adapt your repertoire

  • If singing in harmony, try to sing in consecutive 4ths or 5ths. This gives a fantastic 'plainchanty' sound perfect for Highguard. An example is Circle March (arranged by Katy Cooper) which starts in unison then goes into 4ths before full harmony.
  • Many songs can be made to sound plainchanty by just pulling the rhythm all over the place. Have a listen to some church psalms and simply substitute your own lyrics.

Our sources

Shape note/Sacred Harp singings (Northern or Southern Harmony), any plainchant choir,

Here is a youtube playlist of appropriate or inspiring music.