Xylem Horn Item in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Xylem Horn

A xylem horn, also often known as a trixylem due to its most common three bell configuration, is a wind instrument native to Petalcap Vale. One of several instruments traditionally created out of megaxylem tubules, the xylem horn is a trumpet-like instrument that is capable of self-harmonization.

Mechanics & Inner Workings

Xylem horns come in small/treble (one-handed), medium (two-handed), and large/bass (bipod-mounted) variants to fill the full Vale Verdial musical range. Players blow into the mouthpiece at the union and finger the keys laid out across the top of the instrument to determine the note played. The lengths of the individual bell stems are arranged such that the notes played by each when blown fall into complementary ranges, allowing the instrument to harmonize with itself when played with proficiency.

Manufacturing process

The megaxylem is a large plant named for the large xylem strands that run the length of its fronds. The small extents of these strands can be stretched over specialized frames to distort them into the desired shape, then dried to cement that shape into place. In xylem horns, three or more of these strand sections are stretched and coiled into shapes intended to produce different, but complementary octaves when blown into with buzzing lips. The resulting hornlets, or 'bells,' are then joined together at the neck in a central resonant cavity, which was traditionally another shaped xylem strand, so that all will sound simultaneously if not otherwise obstructed. Any air gaps are sealed with resin. Holes are bored into stems of the bells and lever-activated valves, called 'keys,' are installed to allow the player to control which parts of the instrument sound. In modern examples, especially those of more complex brass construction, multiple valves may be installed in each stem to allow each bell to emit multiple notes, these being installed close to one another along the top of the instrument to form a 'keyboard.'


Petalcap Vale's national anthem, Ode to Autumn Love, is traditionally played on a medium six bell xylem horn made of organic megaxylem strands, though one with only three valves and a modern keyboard (see Manufacturing Process) can play it just as easily. When the verdial peoples were first spreading out to explore their native Caudal Tesseract, sharp blasts from the large horn were sometimes used to probe for avalanches and to signal to allies across long distances.   A 'hornrip' is a comparatively rare event where a traditional xylem horn tears itself apart because of the force of the player's blowing or because the player happens to find a destructive resonant frequency. Hornrips have long been associated with apocalyptic or cataclysmic imagery in Vale Verdial culture, especially when terrible things come about as a result of 'acts of god' or in apparent retribution for moral follies. In Forgism, it is said that the end times will be accomanies with a hornrip from the heavens so powerful that it will shake the very Manifold Sky apart with its lethal cacaphony.

Item type
Musical Instrument
Related ethnicities
Xylem horns made of traditional materials are becoming rarer as metals and composites replace megaxylem tubules as a result of allergen and durability considerations. Brass and cellulomold variants are much more common, though even these are only just becoming popular beyond the Verdial Arc through the efforts of companies like Sprucehaven Exports.

Raw materials & Components
Xylem horns are traditionally constructed of organic materials. The earliest known examples were constructed of megaxylem tubules or, more rarely, dried and compressed giant petalcap flesh, the latter version surviving into the present day with the advent of the more durable cellulomold composite. Actual horn was much less common, as this material is less easily coaxed into the required shape. In modern times, xylem horns can be constructed from dense hardwood, cellulomold, or brass, each of which imparts a different 'warmth' or 'sharpness' to the sound of the instrument. Automated carving methods are influencing a gradual shift towards brass, as this is easier to work into the right shapes in an industrial setting, but purists sometimes complain that the resulting sound is too 'tinny' and 'artificial.'

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


Please Login in order to comment!