Sonos Virens Ulrot
Prime Sonos and Imperial Dronologist
Sonos Virens Ulrot is the most famous living composer from Deepmot. He has been writing and composing for nearly 300 years and is the current Prime Sonos and court composer for the Empress Nolno Vengassi.
I've never experienced anything like it. The hundreds of rows of the royal ampitheatre filled, elbow to elbow with Deepkin, and all in such silence all I could hear was my own breathe and my blood throbbing in my temples. It was a silence so complete but full of jittering expectation. And then, seemingly from within me very self. A counterpoint to my own heart beat, but deeper than anything I'd ever felt. Atop that, layers of sibilant sparkling from my feet to the hairs standing upon my scalp. The music, if that term even does it justice, it was within me, and I within it. it was the stillness of the rocks, and the vastness of the sky all at once.
DronologyVirens mastered the traditional Dronology of the Deepkin, which involves the interplay of multiple players across many miles of interconnected tunnels and caverns deep below the surface. Dronology consists of long passages of echoing percussion, overlaid by reverberations of horns and airflows that pass through natural tunnels and kin-made tubes carved through the very rock. The resulting music is full of strange rhythms caused by the interference and harmonics of the sound waves over so much distance and time. Harmonies swell and long melodies are built that can take hours to resolve. Dronology compositions can run over hours, days and even weeks of performance. It requires much discipline and finesse as the resulting music is dependant upon the shape and extent of the long tunnels and caverns that twist and turn beneath the earth where it is performed.
MasterworkVirens' most famous composition, is called the Wise and Gracious Allmother of the Deep Flowing Uhd and tells the epic of the surfacing of the Deepkin. It celebrates the first Empress of Deepmot, Nerida Vengassi, who led the Deepkin from the ruins of the Hollow Earth to the surface over 1,000 years ago. The music was commissioned by Nerida's grand-daughter, the current Empress Nolno Vengassi and was first performed on her 400th birthday. She is now 679 years old, and it has been performed every year without fail to mark her birth and remind the Deepkin of her connection to the royal matronage. The performance essentially takes the entire year to prepare for, and when finally underway, it takes many days to evolve and cycle through the evolution of sound to its ultimate crescendo. The construction of the music begins miles beneath the ground below Deepmot, where Virens' musicians will strike against the very rocks at the long destroyed entrance to the collapsed Hollow Earth, know as the Broken Gate where the Deepkin who survived The Destruction first found safety.
As the echoes of those first notes are struck, they travel through rock, and up the tunnels and caverns, where progressive layers of new sounds and instrumentation are added. Virens' musicians are spread over many miles of these tunnels, and each, through percussion, or wind, or voice, add to the swelling and layered wonder of the music as it echoes upon itself and rises slowly to the surface. The deep dronology finally emerges into the royal amphitheatre at Deepmot, where it is added to by the singing of the Kin Choir. Most of the citizens of Deepmot will join in this vocal overlay, singing and swaying in a trance that lasts many days as the deep music drones on and evolves around them.
From Dronology to PsychotonicsEven though Virens composed the piece, and it is the prime source of his favour with the Empress and his popularity amongst the noble houses of Deepmot, the truth is he now delegates most of the work to his many hundreds of disciples. He will emerge at the final crescendo of the performance to be visible for the Empress and to accept his accolades.
Tired with tradition and logisticsIn truth, his greatest masterpiece now bores him. Because dronology is so highly dependent on the fixed structure of the geology of the mountains, the music rarely changes and has grown tiresome to him. The most interesting challenges over the many years since he first composed it were the minor changes required to cope with earthquakes and volcanic shifts that can alter the timing and quality of the music, and even these changes he now delegates to others. Virens feels that the music has become less about the artistry, and more about the management of supply lines, communications and the many other logistics that underpin the successful performance each year. His team is built of literally hundreds of staff ranging from the musicians themselves, his geo-engineers and to the cooks, cleaners, guards, messengers and labourers that support them, and the many bureaucrats that maintain and drain from the network in equal measure.
New inspirationVirens true passion has moved to the study of new and innovative forms inspired by the vibrancy and immediacy of the music of the surface lands. Many of the Deepkin find the folk music of the Protectorates or nthe grating, confusing and harsh, but Virens finds the frenetic speed, and the ever-changing and adaptable nature of it intoxicating. He has been known to accompany diplomatic delegations to Helton or only to sneak away from important meetings to visit local taverns incognito. There he will spend spend time watching and talking with the many common folk-musicians there.
Anyone else would be pulverised for his insolence. But the Empress sees it as an artistic eccentricity and encourages it. It is dangerous what the Prime Sonos flirts with, embracing the ways of the surface world. We are the True Kin! We belong below in the deep vastness and timeless strength of the Hollow Earth. We should suffer none of this shallow frivolity. It is an outrage.There is much whispering amongst the court at Deepmot as Virens has also spent many years visiting with the Spore Minds of Glimmertown. It is rumoured that he is studying ways to use the collective and emergent consciousness of the Sporeminds as an instrument in its own right. Virens has begun a long collaboration with the Overmind, seeding within the sporemind the concepts of deep dronology, along with the folk improvisations drawn from across the Protectorates. He hopes to use the power of the collective unconsciousness of the sporemind to compose a new form of music that is emergent from the collective psyche, that will constantly change, grow and evolve into ever new and innovative forms. He calls this new form Psychotonics.- Mallazar Kyzen, The Shadow Queen and Matron of Clan Kyzen
Many of his own apprentices think he is finally going insane at the end of a long life, but there are a few followers amongst his staff that are enamoured of his new direction, and feel an opus even greater than his dronology masterpieces is in the making. Some of Virens' more traditional-minded apprentices in dronology are growing tired of doing all the hard work and letting the crazy old man take the credit. They seek to embarrass him and his followers. His standing in court at Deepmot is growing tenuous, and his loyal followers urge him to reveal his new opus before it is too late.
He is a member of the royal family - a cousin of the empress herself. While the matriarchy of the royal household meant that he would never be in a position of direct power, his privilege nevertheless saw him close to that seat of power. His talents have been regularly put to use as part of the royal propaganda, and he has been provided with near endless funds and a massive network of musicians and staff to see his visions come to life. Virens learnt his craft in his youth, apprenticed for nearly 100 years to the now deceased Sonos Petreus Vengassi. His early years saw him study and master the various instrumentation as he rose in the ranks Petrues' Dronologists. Petreus saw both his raw talents, as well as his connections across both Vengassi and Ulrot clans. Instead of seeing Virens as a worthy successor, Petreus grew jealous, and sought to bring Virens' rise to a sudden end.