When the word 'magic' is mentioned, many people think of old bearded men with pointy hats or wicked witches, waving magic wands and uttering arcane formulae.
But that's a rather bland view.
There are other ways to do magic, better too.
To stretch and twist reality, almost anything can be used: colors, the mystical art of smithing, alchemy, the rich world of odors and many more.
One medium that is very well suited for magic is music. This article outlines a way in which 'music magic' can work. It is not the only way, as such a dogmatic approach would be an insult to the creativity of both magicians and musicians. Rather, it can serve as inspiration.
To work magic, one must influence the minds of others. Depending on the type of magic the target may be humans, but possibly also spirits and/or elemental forces. To influence, some sort of communication is necessary. Language pops up, but there are many languages. Music however is a universal language. Humans understand it, but animals too and possible primal forces too.
A shaman who wants to communicate with nature spirits must be completely familiar with the natural environment; a smith who wants to forge a magic sword must first be a (very) competent smith; a hacker who wants to break into an unhackable system must be able to read the code at its lowest level. Likewise, a music mage must be an accomplished musician, able to play several instruments, to compose and direct. It helps to have a strong musical aptidude, though much can be learned through hard work. For music magic, it helps if the target of the magic, the 'audience', has some understanding of music too.
Music magic in practice
Music has several aspects that can be used to shape it, and with it its efects. Below is an example inventory.
- Rhythm stands for the elements, life, physical things. The heart beats in a rhythm; the seasons are rhythmic. Rhythm can be used to communicate with nature spirits, to influence the weather, to cure diseases or to spread them, to take on animal form, etcetera.
- Melody stands for the mental and spiritual. Melody can be used to influence moods and emotions, to conjure visions, illusions and telepathic connections, to raise or adjure undead and other types of spirits.
- Harmony stands for communication and social life. Music can communicate with all kinds of things, provided some kind of harmony can be established. Harmony is necessary to influence others. Disharmony can confuse or even block communication.
- Timbre concentrates on the 'what' of the magic. For example after establishing a link with a spirit through the three aspects mentioned above, timbre can be used to specify what to do with it: evoke, drive away, negotiate, command, etcetera.
- Structure and texture have no set function within this framework. They are means to arrange and combine the aspects listed above. So they act a bit like the mortar between the bricks.
- Text connects music to language, especially when strong poetry like rhyme is used. This too is a generic means, without limits with regard to applicability, though it aligns the best with mental effects.
Below are a few examples that show how music magic can work. They are not rote spells; every situation requires its own magic and thus its own music.
- Conjure a thunderstorm: Play the rhythm of the rain and winds and steadily whip them up to storm levels - this requires time. In a later stage, when the tension is high enough, lightning strikes can be added, triggered by cymbal strokes and the like.
- Shape change: A piece of music where the rhythm of the mage gradually transforms into the rhythm of an animal.
- Peacemaker: Align the music with the mood of an angry group: hard, rough, fierce. Change the timbre to soft and mellow; do not change the melody.
- Love spell: Learn the personalities of two people well. Describe each with a striking melody and then construct a harmony between the two. Of course instead of a love spell a hate spell can be worked by using disharmony.
- Teamwork: A canon where different voices and/or instruments represent different members of a team, each with its own timbre, all playing together in a harmony. Such a spell may help to boost the skill of one of them above normal level.
- Countermagic: Determine the rhythm or melody of some magic and then design a counter rhythm or counter melody, which neutralises like out soundwaves that are out of phase can dampen each other out.