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Lord of the Rings Online: The Sound of Music in LotRO

MMORPG.com Lord of the Rings Online Correspondent Jim Braner writes this overview of the music system in Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online.

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If you have spent any time running around Middle Earth with your speakers on, you have heard the various tunes and kinds of music around.  The Shire with its warm Celtic feel, the Lone Lands with its... well I can't actually remember what kind of music it has.  Memorable or not, you can make music too!  We have all seen Minstrels with their lutes and harps in battle and various players in seemingly random spots playing away.  Besides the lute and harp there is also the theorbo, clarinet, horn, cow bell, drum, flute, and bagpipes.  Each class has passive skills purchasable from their trainer for two of those instruments; except Minstrels who can purchase passive skills for them all.  Each passive instrument skill will cost you 2 silver and 50 copper.

After you purchase the passive skill, you need the instrument that goes with it.  Head to any Bard for that.  The Bard in the Prancing Pony in Bree is easy enough to get to if you don't happen to remember where any others are.

Each instrument costs 2 silver.  Once you purchase an instrument, right click it in your inventory to equip it.  You may notice an item take its place in your inventory.  That is because instruments go in your ranged slot.  While this is fine for in town, just be sure your Hunter remembers to re-equip that bow before leaving!  You can enter Music Mode after equipping an instrument by typing "/music" or right clicking on your picture and selecting "Play Music" from the drop down menu.  Now you should see your character tapping its foot and rocking back and forth, holding your shiny new instrument!  Now to play something...  The keys 1-9 give you different notes.  Holding shift while pressing a number will make the note lower an octave, while holding ctrl and pressing a number will make the note an octave higher.  While general music is out of the scope for this article, know that two notes an octave apart are the same note, but different in pitch.  You can also hold down multiple notes to for chords.  Remember though, that if you press too many keys in too short a time your computer may lag.  If that happens, an error message will appear on your screen asking you to type slower.  Now try it out, hold as many or few keys as you want!  Sounds bad, huh?  That is why the ABC system exists.

Lord of the Rings Online screenshot

Dwarf with lute and chicken.

The ABC system is used to interpret real music into ASCII characters. What this means to you is that real songs you hear or know can be played in game.  There are many sites dedicated to collecting the ABC songs, so just go looking for the song you want if you don't want to try to figure it out the hard way.  Don't think you can find what you want to play?  Give it a look anyway.  You can easily find everything from Irish Jigs to "Barbie Girl" by Aqua!  Once you find the song you want, copy the text and paste it into a new text document or save the file you find.  Right click on the file and rename it to an .abc extension.  So if you download ymca.txt, make it looks like ymca.abc.  That file needs to go in a very specific spot; "\Documents and Settings\\My Documents\The Lord of the Rings Online\Music".  And remember the name of the file too.  If it's too complicated or long, simply shorten it, no one will know!  Ok, ready to play your first ABC tune?  Get in game and equip your instrument of choice.  Type "/music" to enter Music Mode and then "/play ymca".  Simple as that. Of course if your file was called vegas.abc you would type in "/play vegas".  Below is the ABC version of  "Wild Mountain Theme" taken from the Lord of the Rings Online website.  Try playing this in game either by pressing the keys yourself or as a .abc file.

% Information fields
X:1 % Reference Number
T:Wild Mountain Thyme % Song title
C:Composer: Uncertain % Composer
N:Remarks: % Notes
Q:1/4=125 % Tempo
M:4/4 % Meter
L:1/8 % Default note length
K:C % Key
%ABC Tune Notation
z4 c2 A2 |G3 G A2 c2 |c c3 e2 g2 |a3 g a2 g2 |e g3 e2 g2 |a4 g2 e2 |
d c3 d2 e2 |f3 e d2 c2 |A c3 c2 A2 |G4 A2 c2 |c4 e2 g2 |a3 g a2 g2 |
e g3 e2 g2 |a4 g2 e2 |d c3 d2 e2 |f3 e d2 c2 |A c3 c2 A2 |G4 A2 c2 |c4 z4 |]
%End of file

Players often congregate and take turns playing various songs they have found or written themselves.  After a couple rounds of each playing some songs alone, you might want to try together.  To play music together, or synchronized music, you must first all join the same fellowship and have the same titled ABC file.  Then type "/play vegas sync".  You will now be prepared to start playing at the same time!  Of course, replace vegas with the file name you want to play.  Once everyone is ready, by typing the "/play vegas sync" someone can begin the song by typing "/playstart".  Enjoy! You can choose to have a bass part played by the player with a theorbo while your lute plays the melody, that's fine.  You can have different notes in the ABC files, the files just need the same name.

Lord of the Rings Online screenshot

Sometimes you get tired of the same old two instruments you can play. Minstrels can begin to mentor, or teach, other players in various instruments.  Though when they first get this skill, at level 30, they can only mentor horn and clarinet.  To be able to mentor other instruments they need to get the "recipe" off drops in zones for level 40+ characters zones.  If you seek out a Minstrel to mentor you, keep a couple things in mind if they charge you.  They can only mentor once every four days.  So even though it is a small favor they are doing for you, they can't do it again for almost a week.  Besides being mentored in person, you can aslo get an item called a mentor manual.  A mentor manual costs the minstrel 500s to purchase and, again, can only be used once every four days.  So if you seek a minstrel to mentor you and are surprised by the cost, you will now know why.

Well, you now have the basics of playing music in Middle Earth.  Head in to a Bard and entertain your friends.  Why not try to get a raid group all playing the same song?  I know it's something I would like to see!

Owen Oaks, your friendly Bree Bard.

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