Anextract from the Codex Cacophonica, concerning the Githyanki.
The githyanki are native to the Astral Plane, and as such the resourceswith which they can make tools and instruments are somewhat limited. However,they have a strong artistic and musical tradition. Despite their insularnature, Githyanki culture has started to spread; their music has been played inSigil, for example, although it tends not to travel far from their ghettos.<> Githyankimusic is for the most part militaristic; war is one of the driving forces ofgithyanki culture and it is only natural that their music should follow thistrend. Instruments used in their music tends to be limited to horns and drums,although there are a few subtle differences between the instruments of thegithyanki and those used by, say, humans. <>Wecan begin to analyse these differences by looking at the instrumentsthemselves. The humans' horns and bugles tend to be made of brass. Copper andzinc, however, are in drastically short supply on the astral. Where possible,the mlar who make the instruments will resort to using metals mined from theDead Gods, although of course they have to be careful to refrain fromattracting the attention of their Guardian. Metals brought from the PrimeMaterial Plane are also used, although these are subject to availability. Themajority of githyanki horns are made of a similar alloy to that from whichtheir Silver Swords are constructed, although of course less valuable metalsare often introduced into the alloy. The horns are always elaboratelyembellished and decorated.
So,what effect does the use of otherworldly metal have on the sound of githyankiinstruments? The short answer is that the change in tone is considerable.Thanks to the semi-divine metals, all manner of peculiar harmonics are producedwhen playing a githyanki horn. The instruments tend to sound harsh andstrident, perhaps even tinny, although it is worthy of note that agithyanki-made bugle or trumpet produces a much louder, sharper and clearernote than one made by most human craftsmen. Githyanki horns are relativelysimple instruments, most of them without valves. The notes produced by them areusually dependent on the person playing them.
Inthe case of the drums, githyanki do use animal skins as the base material fordrumheads, although as one might expect, the skins used are of an unpleasantnature. They have been known to take the skins of ambushed travellers,githzerai and humans, for a start. More prized than these, however, are theslimy skins of illithids. After drying them (to remove the mucus) andfortification, an illithid-skinned drum can often be enchanted, or treated withpsionics.
Githyankidrums tend to be deep, bulbous affairs, producing low, echoing notes. Theycould be described as a cross between timpani and tom-toms, combining the soundof the former, while being a little larger than the latter. The drumsticks usedto play them are traditionally made of bone.
Thereare many variants on the githyanki drum; some have more than one drumhead,allowing two or more notes to be played. Others might be snare drums. All ofthem, however, have metal shells, and are always highly decorated and made tolast a lifetime.
Thereare numerous instruments that are peculiar to the githyanki; a few of them arelisted below.
Thej'kal"thask is a specialised githyanki horn. Made of a silver alloy, it isto the bugle what the hydra is to the snake. A truly massive instrument, thej'kal"thask weighs forty pounds and has four mouthpieces. It only has onemassive bell, however, enabling it to be played by more than one musician atonce. Because of its unwieldiness, it is rarely seen on the battlefield (unlessit has been enchanted to assist in combat). It typically makes sounds in thetenor range, although bass variations have been seen. Naturally, the sound oflow, bass chords played on the j'kal"thask tends to make humans feelsomewhat uncomfortable. It is also unpopular with dwarfs and earth genasi,because the low vibrations caused by playing such an instrument are rumoured tocause cave-ins.
Thekatl'nir'k'k is as difficult to play as it is to pronounce. Unlike thej'kal"thask, this bulky, multi-coiled instrument has one mouthpiece, buttwo bells. It weighs ten pounds, but requires an exceptionally fit musicianwith a lot of breath in order to be played properly. The instrument is a ratherrecent innovation, deriving some influence from the bagpipes. There areseparate controls for the sound of each bell, each consisting of four valves. Askilled katl'nir'k'k player is capable of playing short chords on theinstrument, or, in the case of the real expert, two separate melodies at once!The sound of the instrument is peculiar. The first bell produces a warm, altosound, while the other bell is in the baritone range. Since the instrumentrequires both hands to play, it is rarely used on the battlefield unless it hasbeen enchanted.
Notefor DMs: it is suggested that if a PC wishes to play this instrument, the rulesfor holding breath ought to be referred to; the Constitution of the PC inquestion determines the length of time for which this instrument can be played.