Image from Bernd Helfert

Music is art through the medium of sound. Common elements of music are: pitch, which governs melody and harmony; rhythm and its associated concepts tempo, metre, and articulation; dynamics; timbre; and texture. The line between music and mere noise varies, but a perception of order and pattern in the sounds is essential. Sophonts may create music with their own vocal equipment, or may employ a variety of instruments, from simple hand-held drums, chimes, or strings to devices so complex and sophisticated that they are themselves sentient beings. Music of one sort or another was common to every human baseline culture on Old Earth, and has its parallels elsewhere in the animal world in the songs of baseline avian and cetacean species. Xenosophonts also compose and perform music; the ancient and complex traditions of the To'ul'hs, and the sophisticated music of the presapient ancestors of the Jade Chime Singers are just two examples.

Beginning in the Industrial Age, the major classical traditions of Old Earth's Europe, South Asia, and Eastern Asia, together with unique local traditions from many other regions, most notably Western Africa, began to affect one another and spawn entirely new musical forms. This process accelerated in the Information Age, especially as technologies permitted new sorts of musical instruments or recording and composition devices, and again in the Interplanetary Age with the advent of the first human nearbaseline genemods for enhanced musical ability, and especially with the arrival of the first musically inclined ais, vecs, and provolves. The Technocalypse and Solsys' Dark Ages brought a sharp reduction in sophistication, but created huge diversity as each separate polity grew its own unique traditions. The architects of the First Federation took pains to ensure that this rich heritage was not lost as the former habs and colonies began once again to trade musical ideas and traditions, and Sephirotic metacultures in the time since have followed suit. Such deliberate policies, and the natural insulation of relativistic distances, as well as the innate differences of the various Terragen clades, have allowed for a flow of ideas but prevented homogeneity. Aside from the growth of new forms as new cultures are founded along the Periphery, and the arrival of new clades of Terragen sophonts, influences from xenosophont cultures, most notably the To'ul'hs, and from contacts with transapient thought, have continued to drive innovation. Even today the power, sophistication, and diversity of Terragen musical traditions continues to expand.

  • Biophone  - Text by Ernst Stavro Blofeld
    Geneered organisms whose entire raison d'etre is to make music.
  • Cerebral Siren  - Text by John B
    This device samples some 10,000 well-distributed neurons throughout the player's brainpan. It responds with a specific tone and texture when each neuron fires, producing a pseudo-rhythmic tonal surf effect. With significant biofeedback training and lucky placement of the neural sensors, a being can control anywhere from approximately 20% to the record 72.94% of the various textural tonal effects. This soundscape is usually quite calming and peaceful, unless there are unlucky placement of the filaments.
  • Edible Music  - Text by John B
    Competitive musical performance craze.
  • Emplex  - Text by Michael Jones
    An extension of traditional sound-based music, incorporating multi-sensory inputs and memetic engineering.
  • Flaming Baryons, The  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A band of extreme performers from Corona.
  • Flugumes - Text by Peter Kisner
    A genetically engineered instrument derived from various legume varieties, typically used by baseline or near baseline humans, but more as a humorous prop than a seriously taken musical apparatus. During the early 2300's the composer Mlarr Bigglemun did come up with a Flugume Suite in the tradition of P.D.Q. Bach that gained widespread popularity among more renowned baseline musicologists.
  • Halomin  - Text by Chinedum Ofoegbu
    A musical instrument also producing a light show.
  • Heavtal  - Text by Arrittrobi
    A virtual museum presenting a wide range of musical genres from across Terragen history.
  • Heavy Metal - Transapient  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    There are persistent rumors that there are transingularity Powers out in corewards Keter that play heavy metal music as a fascinating intellectual exercise.
  • Jade Chime Singers  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    The affectionate, charming, and musical Jade Chime Singers are among the youngest and most exotic of the Terragen clades. They are the sole living example of a sophont clade from a chlorine world.
  • Kapella  - Text by James Ramsey
    An important member-system in the Crystal Star Domain.
  • LokRok  - Text by Darren Ryding
    Archosaur Toh Chi music genre.
  • Megascale Music  - Text by Jay Dugger and John B
    Music on a massive scale.
  • Musical Eugenic - Text by Jay Dugger and John B
    Any individual or clade geneered for musical talent or traits.
  • Nanoinstruments, Nanomusic  - Text by ProxCenBound
    Pre-Technocalypse fad and marketing terms.
  • Polmusic - Text by Anders Sandberg
    To'ul'hs of the Ho'mth'u culture view politics and music as an indivisible unity, and have developed political music as an art form. Over time polmusic has become a nearly universal political language across To'ul'h and post-To'ul'h clades within the MPA, as well as an elaborate academic-artistic discipline.
  • Resona  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Musical instrument consisting of a sheet of smart matter (usually richly textured) with ten or more metal rings, which are worn on the fingers. The sheet is stretched between the hands and manipulated by the positions of the fingers; it vibrates with a frequency and strength controlled by hand position, and the finger gestures change its tone. Often part of the entertainment is not just the sound, but the aesthetic handling of the instrument singly or in group.
  • Sampler Jam  - Text by John B
    An ongoing musical fad in the Metasoft sphere of influence for the last hundred years or so. In this art form, the audience is often the star of the show.
  • Screamaphone  - Text by John B
    A musical instrument made of nominally non-sentient biological creatures, each of which screams a single note when stimulated.
  • Static/White Noise Music  - Text by Ben Higginbottom
    Alleged Information Age music craze appearing in some pre-Technocalypse records.
  • SunFones - Text by Jay Dugger
    Megascale music created by certain star-mining groups by coordinating and manipulating the seismic waves ringing through a star. A powerful group might manipulate stellar structure to improve its "acoustic" properties.
  • Synesthetist - Text by Keith Halperin
    Creates cross-sensate and trans-sensate art.
  • Visualisation Software  - Text by Ernst Stavro Blofeld
    Software that creates images in association with sound, or caters for the entire sensory spectrum.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 01 January 2010.

Additional Information