Music of Talislanta

In addition to being the genius creator of the Talislanta RPG, Stephan Michael Sechi is also a musician. He has taken the time out of his busy schedule to supply fans with music from Talislanta. Alas, however, supplies were limited, and the tapes and CDs quickly disappeared from the shelves.

For those fans who missed the limited release of the Talislanta musical offerings, SMS has graciously given me permission to include samples of the music on this web page and to reprint, in full, the liner notes for the music. Words and music here are Steve's, typos are mine.

[ Music From Talislanta | Music From Talislanta II | Talislanta: Wizard Hunter ]

Music From Talislanta

Music From Talislanta

"Through a veil of blue mist did I first behold Talislanta: dreamlike and surreal, as if suffused in amberglow. At once it became my goal to explore this radiant new world: to unearth its ancient mysteries. And so I embarked upon a journey that would take me across the strange and exotic land known as... Talislanta."

So wrote the wizard Tamerlin: self-styled explorer, scholar, and author, who first discovered the lost land of Talislanta. Tamerlin claimed to have spent the greater part of fourteen years exploring the Talislantan continent and studying its indigenous cultures, flora, and fauna. The accounts of his expedition first appeared in the book, The Chronicles of Talislanta, and a handful of bestiaries, cosmologies, and treatises.

It was recently discovered that, among his many reputed accomplishments, Tamerlin also conducted an extensive study of the music of Talislanta. This work consisted of a series of short "liner notes" and a selection of musical performances imbued within enchanted amberglass orbs. Transferred to tape, these performances can now be heard, and hopefully enjoyed, by Talislantaphiles of the present era.

As to the land of Talislanta: those scholars who do not dismiss the topic out of hand disagree as to the origins of this mysterious realm. Some claim that Talislanta existed long ago, during the legendary First Age of Atlantis. Others, lending even broader scope to their imaginations, cite Tamerlin's chronicles as proof of the existence of alternate realities. Proponents of the hollow earth theory, avid readers of Charles Fort, and individuals of similar bent may formulate even more intriguing explanations for the Talislantan texts. Whatever your own interpretation, we hope that you enjoy this presentation of the music of Talislanta.

Side A

1. Processional (Bodorian) 4:02
The Bodor are widely regarded as the most accomplished musicians in Talislanta. They possess the ability to see sound waves as a series of colors, and converse among themselves by means of a musical language that requires no words to convey meaning. This selection was originally commissioned by the Emperor of Quan during the year 588 of the New Age. It was performed by a fourteen-piece Bodorian orchestra comprised of tambour (tuned drums), glass flute, glass bells, gossamer harp, and the intricate spiralhorn. The "breathy"-sounding instrument heard in the background is the four-man bellows-pipes.

2. Desert Dance (Djaffir) 2:45
A tradition among the Djaffir bandit tribes, the Desert Dance is a ritual performed after the completion of a particularly profitable raid. The effects of the ritual are apparently quite profound, for at its conclusion the members of the tribe renounce their thieving ways and become merchants. Typically, this miraculous transformation lasts only so long as the merchants have wares to sell, after which they will become bandits once again. Instrumentation includes ahtra-hide drums of varying size, shakers, and the djaro, which also doubles as a short bow. The bowstring is struck with a rod or stick to produce the instrument's characteristic "twanging" sound.

3. Meditation (Mandalan) 3:03
The music of the Mandalans consists of simple melodies, with a strong but understated rhythmic pulse underneath. Its structure symbolizes the Mandalan virtues of outward passivity and inner strength, as illustrated by the concept of the Mystic Warrior. This selection, called "Meditation", was performed by a trio of Mandalan mystics at a small shrine located in the Groves of Serenity. The melody was played on a two-chambered wooden flute called a madal; the accompanist plays a silk harp, its seven strings fashioned from a silkwyrrm thread. The third musician is playing several percussion instruments, including a mandola (a long bamboo tube filled with smooth pebbles). The trickling sound of a stream can be heard in the background.

4. The Exodus (Dracartan) 3:58
Long before they settled in the Red Desert and established the great city of Carantheum, the ancestors of the Dracartans wandered the Wilderlands for centuries, searching for a new home. This period is remembered as a time of great hardship and personal sacrifice, and is commemorated in a traditional song called "The Exodus". The instruments used in this performance include the daro (drums made of fired clay and land lizard hide), dracara (ancestral drums made of red iron, dating back hundreds of years), and tchan (red iron cymbals).

5. Work Song (Yassan) 1:50
The Yassan are an industrious folk renowned throughout the Desert Kingdoms as practitioners of the lost art of Technomancy. Their music is technically oriented; in fact, most musical instruments used by the Yassan also double as tools. The composition, "Work Song", is typical of the Yassan approach to music. The instrumentation includes clangals (flexible saw blades used as cymbals), tubals (metal pipe), metal-harp, spring-chimes, and hammer-gongs. Yassan "sheet music" resembles a set of mechanical diagrams; at the conclusion of this piece the worker-musicians had constructed a small wind-funnel.

6. Call to the Sea Dragon (Sun-Ra-San) 3:05
The music of the Sun-Ra-San, an aquatic race of sea dragon hunters, is haunting and often filled with sorrow. "Call to the Sea Dragon" is a piece that is traditionally performed after a successful hunt, as an offering to the spirit of the departed sea dragon. The melody is played on the rasa, a ten-foot long flute carved from the tail bone of an ancient sea dragon. The droning pedal tone was sung by the Sun-Ra-San, who are known for their ability to produce wordless vocal sounds across a range of six octaves. In the background one can hear the sound of the wind and waves, and the tolling of a brass ship's bell.

7. Folk Song (Sarista) 3:14
The Sarista Gypsys of western Talislanta earn a living by performing folk songs and dances for their audiences, as well as by more devious means; they also bear a well-deserved reputation as pick-pockets and con-artists. This composition is typical of most Sarista music in that it is based upon a theme that was "borrowed" from another culture (in this case, Zandir), and adapted for use by Sarista musicians. Instrumentation includes the lutara (three-string baritone lute), ahtal (a type of two-string fiddle), wooden flute, and finger cymbals. As this song built to a climax the audience was encouraged to join in by clapping along with the beat. While they were preoccupied, Sarista children artfully rifled their pockets for coins and other small valuables.

Side B

1. Battle March (Kang) 3:05
The music of the warlike Kang is militaristic and generally unsophisticated in nature. This piece, with its pounding drums and braying horns, is typical of the raucous marches favored by these folk. The instruments heard in this composition (dragon-hide drums beaten with war hammers, cymbals, and iron battle-horns) were played by Vajra slaves. Rhythmic counter-figures are provided by the sharp clash of swords beaten against shields.

2. Temple Chant (Aamanian) 2:51
Aamanian temple music reflects the Orthodoxist Cult concept of "oneness in mind and spirit", and consists of many voices chanting repetitious motifs in unison or in octaves over a droning pedal tone. The Hierophant leads the assemblage in song; the congregation and the rest of the clergy follow without variation. No instruments are used in any Aamanian music, as these implements were regarded as "the tools of the devil".

3. Concerto Pt. 1 (Bodorian) 2:30
This piece is the first movement of a concerto entitled, "The Wilderlands Suite", which was written by the Bodor composer, So-La. The entire suite consists of twenty-four separate movements, and is over eight hours in length. The first movement is based in part on traditional rhythmic patterns found in the music of indigenous Wilderlands tribes such as the Danelek and Za. Instruments include nalaka (Danelek drums, made from land lizard-hide and ogriphant bone), anak (a type of five-tined marimba made of carved land lizard bones, which are struck with a mallet), bass gong, glass flutes, and tambour.

4.Song of Madness (Druhk) 3:44
The Druhks are a savage folk who roam the wild hills of northern Arim. In battle, their shamans wield bone flutes and play the ancient "Song of Madness", which they say strikes fear into the hearts of their enemies. This rendition was recorded at considerable risk, while a tribe of Druhks prepared for an all-out assault on an Arimite caravan. The instruments heard here include bone flutes of various sizes, Druhk ceremonial drums (made from flayed skin stretched over dried gourds), and the uka, or "howling drum"; an instrument made from skin stretched across a framework of rib bones, which is played by wetting the fingertips in bood and rubbing them across the head of the drum.

5. Pleasure Palace (Cymrilian) 3:25
While known more for their magical talents than their musical abilities, the people of Cymril have an avid appreciation of music. As is the case with most everything they do, the Cymrilians enhance their music by the use of magic. "Pleasure Palace" is a good example of this type of "enchanted music". The glass flutes, glass bells, and gossamer harps used in this piece were enchanted with a glamour that altered the sound and timbre of the instruments.

6. The Sultan's Dance (Zandir) 4:21
The music of the Zandir nobility is bold, passionate, sweeping, and rich in ornamentation. Conversely, the music of the peasantry is simple, rustic, and unpretentious. This composition, called "The Sultan's Dance", is an example of the style of music favored by Zandir nobles. It was written and arranged by Zandahl, a Zandir composer who studied for ten years under a Bodorian maestro. The Sultan's Dance incorporates Bodorian instruments such as the glass flute, tambour, and glass bells, plus native Zandir folk instruments like the ojo (a type of single-reed instrument), zilo (silver chimes), wood-horn, four-stringed mandallo, and box-drum.

7. Death Dirge (Rajan) 3:39
Rajan music is dark and ominous sounding, as befits these folk, who are morbid and fatalistic by nature. The Rajan Death Dirge, which serves as accompaniment to sacrificial rituals, is such a piece. To prepare themselves for the performance of this composition, the Rajan "musicians" (actually priests of the Nihilist Cult) donned iron death masks and dosed themselves with a narcotic known as kaj. The instruments used here include twenty-foot long black iron temple horns decorated with the images of leering skulls; the uraj, a bellows-driven pipe organ that requires a team of forty slaves to fill its giant bellows; iron drums beaten with mallets carved from the bones of the Rajans' enemies, and black iron cymbals. As the music builds, a Shadinn executioner circles the intended victim, slashing at the air with his axe. At its conclusion the victim is slain, and thereby "converted" to the dark religion of the Rajans.

Technical Notes

The songs on this tape were composed, played, and digitally recorded on an Ensoniq ASR-10 (Advanced Sampling Recorder) keyboard, and its predecessor, the EPS-15. The pieces originally created on the EPS were later transported to the ASR-10 in order to take advantage of this unit's superior (44kh) sound quality and internal effects processing. The digital compositions were transferred to tape using a Tascam 202MKII deck with Dolby HX Pro; normal bias tape was used for the copies to reduce high end noise. For cleaner-sounding playback you may wish to set your tape machine for Dolby B. Also, be aware that if you use "bass boost" or "loudness" you may hear distortion on certain of the lower frequencies (particularly the lower-pitched percussion instruments). If this occurs, roll-off the bass until the distortion effect abates.

Thanks to the following:

My wife, Patty, for the constructive music criticism and design help; P.D. Breeding-Black, for her wonderful cover art; my good friend Joel Kaye, for lending me his EPS-15 until I could afford to buy that ASR-10 (thanks, WotC); Al DiMarco, for sound advice; Robin Laws, for his friendship and creative input; Jai Kel for publishing the first Talislanta 'zine, The Conjuror; all the wonderful folks on the Talislanta e-mail list, for their interest and support; and to Talislanta fans all over the world.

The legal stuff:

All music and liner notes © 1994 by Stephan Michael Sechi. Talislanta is a trademark of SMS. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this tape is punishable by the acquisition of truly bad karma, since believe it or not I do this sort of thing for a living and need the dough.


SMS [SMS Logo]

Music From Talislanta II

Music From Talislanta II

1. Harem Song (Djaffir)
The Caliph of Djaffa is serenaded by his favorite wives and consorts.

2. Night of Fools (Zandir)
Traditional carnivale song of revelers on the Night of Fools.

3. Sea and Sky (Sawila)
A Sawila spellsong offered to the elementals of sea and sky.

4. Camp Song (Yitek)
After a long day of tomb-robbing, Yitek nomads sometimes sit around the campfire and play the songs of their ancestors.

5. Ritual (Manra)
A Manra shape-changing ritual, accompanied by drums and chanting.

6. Foundry Song (Yassan)
Yassan technomancers perform their version of industrial music, Talislantan style.

7. Ode To Xanadas (Xanadasian)
A traditional lament played each year by the followers of Xanadas, on the anniversary of the savant's disappearance.

8. Tavern Song (Cymrilian)
A traditional windship sky-chanty from Archaen times. The wizard Tamerlin makes an appearance on spiral-horn on the last chorus.

9. Opus 49 (Bodorian)
A piece for gossamer harps, glass flute, baritone bellows-horn, and assorted percussion, by the Bodorian composer Sola Lado.

10. Hadjin Garden (Bodorian)
A commissioned piece performed for the Hadjin Grandeloquence, by Bodorian maestro Falo Mido and his ensemble.

Music and liner notes © 1997 by Stephan Michael Sechi

Talislanta logo by John Harper

Dedicated to Talislanta fans around the world, with thanks - SMS

Wizard Hunter

Talislanta: Wizard Hunter

1. Wizard Hunter Theme (Short Version) - 1:22

2. Omen - 4:14

3. The Duel - 4:46

4. The Wanderer - 4:26

5. The Fire Pits - 3:58

6. Soulstones - 5:16

7. Shadows - 6:14

8. Spirit Voices - 5:34

9. Astral Plane - 5:10

10. Wizard Hunter Theme (Long Version) - 4:40

All music on this CD © 1998 by Stephan Michael Sechi. Cover design & graphics by John Harper. Cover art by Ron Spencer. “Talislanta” and “Talislanta: Wizard Hunter” are © and ™ by SMS. All rights reserved. Thanks to John, Dan, Siamak, Teal, Dale, and the WH creative team, and to Talislanta fans around the world.

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Last modified: Sun Dec 31 09:08:14 PST 2000.