War Song Tradition / Ritual in Mudewei | World Anvil
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War Song

We'll follow the Old Man wherever he wants to go
As long as he wants to go opposite to the foe
We'll stay with the Old Man wherever he wants to stay
As long as he stays away from the battle's fray
— Noted human parody song "The Old Man"
A particular subset of Chant devoted to hyping up warriors before battle, war songs are known to be incredibly numerous. Before the advent of warships in space (and for that matter warships generally), each clan had a handful of songs used to intimidate the enemy and psychologically prepare their own for conflict.   The oldest examples of war songs are about old, established clan rivalries that never quite went away following the formation of the Unified Stenza Clans. While clans had fewer excuses for warring with one another, playing up rivalries for entertainment's sake especially around First Sunrise became commonplace.   In modern times, it is widely recognized, not quite in an urban legend-esque capacity, that each ship has its own chants, regardless of whether they belong to the same unit or not. By this means many new songs have been composed and many older ones preserved and repurposed.


The oldest known war songs were about how ineffectual in combat some other clan (typically a long-standing rival) happened to be, and how superior the chanters were in this regard. The second-oldest known war songs were centered on such themes as "find your courage" and "we shall charge into battle, be ready", with a healthy side-helping of "we will mop the floor with our enemies". They continued much in this fashion until around the year -11 when Iradae the Lawgiver rallied the clans against a common enemy, and "hold the line" and "protect the pups" became the themes of the occasion for almost twelve years. After the Battle with the Stone Menace was won, and the Unified Stenza Clans were established, many old chants about rivalry shifted in purpose toward mockery of other clans for their perceived faults, and the war songs composed during the Battle were incorporated, in whole or in part, into clan Khe'drakha poetry about the event, as well as being performed wholesale as individual units.   The Stenza have since had a small number of civil wars, which made liberal use of the oldest war songs in their originally intended context until the conflicts were settled or the parties involved gave up and realized they were fighting over nonsense (most notably the war over color perception, remembered as the dumbest conflict in Stenza history and sometimes incorporated into chants about non-Stenza enemies, i.e. "You lot would fight over who sees which color!").   The advent of spacefaring and later battleships has fostered a new environment for the development of war songs. Each ship became a more or less isolated environment on the edge of the void, and so each ship's crew began composing their own works to add to the library of war songs in existence. These could focus equally on the strengths of the ship's crew and armament, the willingness of those aboard to fight to the last, or how a given enemy ship's captain is a foppish loser who would bail at the first sight of things not going their way (based, historians presume, on real figures who have done such, and were regarded by all as dishonorable). Some ship crews break this mold by sprinkling in bits about how the pups aboard their craft are lucky, or integrate parodic Earth music into more jovial works (see page quote).


Like all chants, the war song originates in the chest, and it is considered good form if the words reverberate through the body. Although the content varies depending on situation and the whims of the chanters, and accompaniment by such varying instruments as rhythm bones and the bits of pipe that happen to be laying around at the time. Generally war songs are held to looser standards than chants about religious and historical figures or designed to accompany An'o, and can even be parodic and sacrilegious. In several instances, content does not matter, and in this way it is comparable to work songs found in other cultures.

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