The Music of Tolua Item in Creus | World Anvil
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The Music of Tolua

Tolua was a pretty town in the spring, and the air in the town square had the scent of apples and honey. Vance bought a squeeze of oranges from the juicer stand and brought it back to the bench.   "No lemons, I'm afraid, so you two have to make do with orange juice. The stallkeeper wants his mugs back once you're done." The mercenary took a seat on the bench next to them, dropping his pack on the ground. "I've said this before, but I don't know why I'm here."   "Mmm." Iocathe took a deep draught of the juice before giving him a smile. "Are you saying you'd be okay with us innocent girls traipsing about the countryside alone?" The cartographer stretched her arms forward before adjusting her right bracelet. "Rathnait isn't here to bite heads off, so who would protect us?"   "From what? This is the quietest country town I've ever seen. You can hear the birds singing, of all things. Tolua's a picture book." Vance grumbled.   "Hush and enjoy the moment." Lodia frowned. "A quiet trip to the country is worthwhile on its own. The Capital is grating after a time. Besides, now that we're here we can listen to this Music I keep reading about."   Vance blinked. "We're here for the *Music of Tolua*? Why didn't you tell me?"   "What difference would it make?" Lodia brushed a stray strand from her eyes. "I figured you'd enjoy the sense of mystery and adventure."   "Ordinarily yes, but we're here at the wrong time. They only play the Music once a season." Vance gestured to the building fronting the town square, an ordinary brick building except for the grid of circular holes in the facade. "If you want to listen to the Music we need to come back in four weeks." He turned to Iocathe. "Come on. You of all people should have known this."   "Perhaps we can just turn this into a vacation weekend?" The cartographer sighed.

Mechanics & Inner Workings

A typical handheld music box consists of a winding lever, gearing, and some rotating pins on a drum that hit the tines of a small iron or steel comb in order to produce an orgel's characteristic sounds. The Music of Tolua consists of the same general concept, with rotating pins on drums describing the song, except it takes up an entire building the size of a mansion and its sounding implements compose nearly a full orchestra - a massive array of steel strings bowed by automated flatrods, multiple drumskins struck by reciprocating sticks, and an array of smaller instruments attached to wheels, rotating in time to sound the right note when called for. When connected to power at the main gearshaft at the roof and when enough torque is supplied to the first cam, sixteen different rotating drums begin to play, their pins sounding specific instrument notes at the right times. Each instrument is ingeniously positioned within the structure with reverberating elements to help transmit the sound through the walls of the building.   The Music of Tolua is so large that sounds created at one end of it are difficult to hear at another. Ordinarily something that would stymie a composer, Siobhan duClarte was able to weave multiple songs into the track, meaning the Music of Tolua sounds remarkably different when standing at different places around the music box building. Visitors have described walking around the box while it's playing as a 'transcendental' journey of sorts.

Manufacturing process

Luk of Tolua built the Music over three years, and it took another four for Siobhan duClarte to finish her composition for it. At this point, construction of these Power-related megaprojects was prohibited by the Principality of Etoile except by special permit, as the Music simply consumed too much Power; a maximum draw was established for any given new project, with the Music granted a unique exemption.


"The Music of Tolua" refers to two distinct things - a certain piece of music, and the colossal music box that was constructed to play it in 638. Luk of Tolua was an early power-engineer credited with pioneering the concept of a Powered music player that could play much louder and longer pieces than most hand wound music boxes of the time. This was at the prompting of his wife, Siobhan duClarte, a notable songstress and composer, who wrote avant-garde orchestral compositions that required ever increasing numbers of musicians to play in full.   The piece played by the Music of Tolua represents their combined magnum opus, a haunting, looping multi-orchestral piece that plays back in twenty minute increments, from a 'music box' that occupies most of a large building, that requires the entire town of Tolua to be disconnected from the local Power wheel in order to play the song back at the expected speed. As a demonstration of the beauty that can be achieved with artifice, it is unparalleled, but locals in Tolua consider it a nuisance when the music is played once a season and their Power is disconnected and re-routed.
Item type
Related Technologies
One of a kind
At least 25 tons
20ft long by 60ft wide by 12ft tall
Raw materials & Components
Luk of Tolua built the Music from the parts of his day, relatively primitive gearings and deconstructed musical instruments. As parts have worn, they have been replaced and upgraded with more modern and wear-resistant components; nearly a third of the over fifteen thousand components of the Music are of new provenance, not including the naturally wearing components like bowstrings and such.
Despite the massive scale of the Music, it requires no specialized tooling outside the standard kit of any Power construction project and was not fabricated with any out of the ordinary components.   Though it requires no special tooling or knowledge, the scale of the project is so vast that every hour of play of the music box incurs more than a hundred hours of service time, as trained Power-engineers must comb the gearings replacing wear parts and tuning the various instruments. This ensures that the Music is only played rarely.

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