Singers of Aesry Surlaenis'a (book)
The Singers of Aesry Surlaenis'a
...as published in "Te Merikanto Rautavaara," 4th Edition
The singing of the Ru'atin Peri'el is something of a mystery, but is believed to be the product of intense rituals, with its purpose to preserve lore and knowledge.
Seriously creative and talented individuals were accepted into the group, not only those with a gift for music and story telling, but an almost psychic ability to link with others and the forces of nature as well.
The first thing that can be said about the songs of the Singers is the overwhelming sibilant sound their words and rhythms created. Some say they sing the song of Peri'el, singing chorus with her, and their constant vigil of maintaining the song, supports the Immortal when she grows too weary to continue her song. Others believe that the Sisters believe it is indeed their song alone that keeps the World Dragon harmless and sleeping, and to cease their song would end the period of peace Elanthians enjoy.
The second thing of note about the Singers is their style of ceremonial singing. This manner of singing is known as "ograth smo'kku'par" (hands together) and appears to be a kind of strange duet.
The main singer, or leader ("syo'kapo"), sings with a companion or aide ("fe'kapo"), who sings the second part. The singing is shared in such as way that when the main singer has brought a verse to about the third syllable from the end, or last measure, and the supporting singer comes in with her voice, and thus both complete the phrase. Then the second singer repeats the verse alone in a slightly varied way and tone. The main singer alone adds the next text, similarly repeated by the supporting singer, and so on until the song's conclusion. Thus it can be seen the main singer must be one of vast talents, singularly capable in delivering a song, or significant in age or esteem to be able to compose and sing thus, extemporaneously!
Below would be this poor writer's attempt to give an example: (based upon the sighting of Everild at the Crossings' Temple in recent days, as the actual songs of the Sisters are guarded carefully and not allowed for outsiders to repeat) The PHRASE thus represents the shared syllables sung.
At the time of Crossings' FALLING
On the day of home's sad COLLAPSE
Bright the vision there beHELD US
Sweet the shape our eyes beFORE ME
Everild in mortal BODY
God of battle there was STANDING
Upon the rubble of hoLY GROUND
Upon the steps of fallen TEMPLE (etc.)
The interval provided by the second singer (as she sings the second line) was time the main singer used to compose the coming verse. Obviously this could only be successful if the singer had great experience and was gifted with a quick mind and rich imagination.
The two singers sit side by side, or facing each other, close enough to clasp hands and their bodies in contact, often their knees touching. While singing they move their heads in a swaying manner, as if wanting to touch their heads together. Should they ever begin the song standing, they quickly sit and resume this familiar position to sing. Perhaps their joining so facilitates their anticipation of word and song, and enables them to essentially -- compose together.
It is not uncommon (a sight also familiar to those of the bardic arts) for them to frequently replenish their ale glasses and pause to drink and gather their forces. There is great seriousness in this singing, but also great joy and a sense of celebration. A circle of listeners will stand about in great respect and certain events were often at gatherings and feasts times.
As a final note, the singing is often accompanied by an instrument held on the knees, a five-stringed lap harp known as a khurmary. If only one person is singing, the harp player assumes the function of supporting the singer and repeats on the harp the melody which the second singer usually provides.
(Khurmary is a compound word meaning both breath (khur) and 'mary (journey). "'mary" is also used in the formation of words for ships -- so the implication is that this was the instrument which carried the breath or song of the singers.)
It takes little imagination to anticipate that the Ru'atin Peri'el were greatly hunted and hated by the Dragon Priests of Dzree. The only surviving enclave is the group that maintains its secrets and way of life on Aesry Surlaenis'a.