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Music in the World of Avatar

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Music is an important cultural aspect for all four nations in the World of Avatar. A variety of musical instruments, such as the tsungi horn and pipa, are played as well as a multitude of songs. People from all nations enjoy playing music, and it serves as a principal source of entertainment.

Songs

Main article: Songs in the World of Avatar

Songs are a traditional and cultural part of the World of Avatar. Songs heard in the episodes are often integrated into the plot lines to provide humor and in Sokka's case, comic relief. Some of the four nations' songs are ancient and passed down through the generations while others are simply popular folk songs. It is hard to tell whether or not each culture has its own distinct folk songs as the ones performed in the series were either associated with the Fire Nation or the Earth Kingdom. Songs are the most commonly seen musical compositions in the four nations, as opposed to full orchestral pieces. They seem to be mostly folk songs that are easy to enjoy and understand, making them simpler to remember for those traveling from place to place.[1]

Instruments

Djembe

The djembe is a skin-covered hand drum, shaped like a large goblet and meant to be played with bare hands. The djembe can produce different types of sounds, depending on the area of the skin which is hit and whether the player uses their hand, palm, or fingers.[2]

Drum

Sun Warrior chanters

Sun Warriors play their drums during ceremonies.

The drum consists of one membrane that is stretched over a shell and struck directly with parts of a player's body. It is played in the Northern Water Tribe, Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom.

Dungchen

The dungchen(法号) was a long metal horn used by the Air Nomads in their ritual music. It consisted of a long, collapsible brass tube; because of its length, the end would usually rest on the ground, with the middle portion fixed to a wooden stand. Each horn is capable of producing only one note. The sounds produced by the horn are very low, creating an enormous echo effect when played in the mountains. When augmented by airbending, they can be incredibly loud. A dungchen was used by Aang to escape from Admiral Zhao's trap.[3]

Erhu

The erhu (二胡), also known as the Chinese fiddle or Chinese violin, is a two-stringed instrument played with a bow. It consists of a long, thin neck with tuning pegs at the top and a resonator at the base. It is commonly played in the Fire Nation.

Flute

The flute is a reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air against an edge. It is played in the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom and, in the Avatar World, is classified as a woodwind. The Air Nomads also played a pan flute-like instrument.[4]

Liuqin

The liuqin (柳琴) is a four-stringed plucking instrument used to complement short or simple folk songs. It is made from brown wood and is rounded at the bottom, while the top is triangular. The tip of the instrument is rounded and has four cone-shaped tuning pegs made from stone. Liuqins are commonly found throughout alleyway shops in Ba Sing Se.[5]

Luo

The luo (), commonly called "gong", is a percussion instrument made mainly from bronze, brass or other alloys, usually played by hitting it with a stick. It comes in many forms and sizes, and the most common is the suspended gong, which is held vertically by cords. It was seen in the Earth Kingdom[6] and Fire Nation[7] royal palaces and many other places.

Morin khuur

The morin khuur is a bowed instrument that bears a horse's head. It produces a sound much like a horse neighing or a breeze blowing. The Flamey-Os utilized this instrument during performances.[8]

Pipa

Main article: Pipa
Pipa

A Fire Nation school student played the pipa during the beach cave party organized by Aang.

The pipa (琵琶) is a plucked instrument with a pear-shaped body, played in a similar fashion as the lute. It has four to five silk strings and five to thirty frets, depending on the region in which it was produced. These differences give the instrument a vast range of sounds.

Ruan

The ruan () is a lute with a fretted neck that often comes in different sizes and pitches, it's main feature is the round moon-shaped form. It is seen in a musical instrument shop at Ba Sing Se.[5]

Tsungi horn

Main article: Tsungi horn
Iroh plays the tsungi horn

Iroh often played the tsungi horn.

The tsungi horn is a musical instrument used in the traditional music of the four nations. The curved and highly polished horn is cast from metal and is believed to have originated in the Fire Nation, where it is most often played. The sound of a tsungi horn is emitted from an instrument called the duduk.

Veena

Pathik singing

Aang imagined a six-armed Guru Pathik wielding a veena in one of his daydreams.

The veena was a plucked string instrument with a hemispherical body, played by Guru Pathik when he appeared in Aang's hallucination, singing "The Chakras Song".[9] Pathik was shown with six arms, holding the veena is reminiscent of the Hindu goddess of knowledge, Saraswati.

Yueqin

The yueqin (月琴) is a plucked instrument with a circular body and four strings that are tuned in courses of two, similar to a mandolin. When a badgermole knocked Chong's instrument out of his hands, the nomad grabbed a yueqin from under his robe.[1]

Zheng

The zheng (), also called the guzheng, is a plucked, zither-like instrument. It has movable bridges and fifteen to twenty-five strings, allowing the player to customize its sound and strength. This instrument was on sale at an instrument stand in Ba Sing Se.[5]

Zhong

The zhong (), is a bronze bell, played by hitting with a small hammer to produce sound. It is usually played in larger musical ensembles. It was seen in a musical instrument shop at Ba Sing Se.[5]

Notable musicians

Bumi

Bumi has demonstrated a degree of skill with the flute, and was able to calm down a dark spirit by playing a cheerful tune. However, when he tried to calm more dark spirits the same way, they attacked him.[10] Bumi's father, Aang, is also known to have played the flute.[11]

Chong and Lily

Chong was an easy-going nomad who traveled with his wife, Lily, and a few other companions around the world, playing songs and telling stories. He was commonly heard playing love songs.[1]

Fire Nation music teacher

Not much is known about this man other than the fact that he taught music at the Fire Nation school and, like all Fire Nation teachers, harbored a great dislike for dancing, believing it to be reckless behavior.[8]

Iroh

Iroh was a very good musician, notably a gifted tsungi horn player. He put forward the concept of music night on Zuko's ship to keep the crew entertained and to raise morale.[12]

Rough Rhinos

The Fire Nation mercenary quintet known as the Rough Rhinos were said by Iroh to be, in addition to each being a specialist in a different type of weapon, "a very capable singing group."[13]

The Flamey-Os

Instruments

Various instruments were played by The Flamey-Os.

Main article: The Flamey-Os

This young Fire Nation band played several instruments, including the pipa and the morin khuur. Although they only appeared once, it was suggested The Flamey-Os played at Chan's party and that "word spread after that cave party" being that the music sounded the same.[8][14] The band's members are school-aged kids who dream of touring the world.[15]

Zuko

Zuko was mentioned twice to be a talented tsungi horn player, but it has been implied that it was not his favorite instrument.[12][16]

Trivia

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (March 24, 2006). "The Cave of Two Lovers". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  2. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  3. Hamilton, Joshua; Matte, Johane (writer), Matte, Johane (artist), Kim, Hye-Jung (colorist), Comicraft (letterer). "Relics" (May 7, 2011 [Free Comic Book Day edition]), Nickelodeon.
  4. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part 2 (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Estoesta, Joann, Wahlander, Lisa, Huebner, Andrew, Scheppke, Gary, MacMullan, Lauren, Mattila, Katie, Ridge, Justin, Volpe, Giancarlo (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 29, 2006). "The Tales of Ba Sing Se". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  6. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (September 22, 2006). "City of Walls and Secrets". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  7. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (September 28, 2007). "The Headband". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  9. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 16, 2007). "Nightmares and Daydreams". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  10. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 15, 2013). "Harmonic Convergence". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 24. Nickelodeon.
  11. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Library". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  12. 12.0 12.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 18, 2005). "The Waterbending Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  13. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Desert". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  14. Audio commentary for Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  15. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (June 17, 2005). "The Blue Spirit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  17. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Library Edition (February 20, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.

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