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Instruments come in four types defined by the skill necessary for play (keyboard, stringed, wind, and percussion). Some instruments are built by individual components which must be assembled, and some are made in a single step like other finished goods. Instruments can be either hand-held or stationary. Stationary instruments are built like furniture with - command. Hand-held instruments can be carried around by dwarves or placed in coffers in taverns or temples.
Instruments and their components can be made out of a variety of materials, including wood, bone, shell, stone, silk thread, plant fiber thread, glass, ceramics, metal, or leather. Out of those, thread and leather can only be used for components, not for a full instrument. Many of the instruments/components are made in craftsdwarf's workshops, except ceramic ones are made at a kiln, leather ones at a leather works, glass ones at a glass furnace, and metal ones at a metalsmith's forge. Wood and stone instruments and components may occasionally be made at carpenter's and mason's workshops, respectively, instead of the craftsdwarf's shop. The etails menu can be used to select the specific material for most instruments and components. Glass and ceramic instrument jobs do not yet support the details menu; all glass instruments will be made from green glass in your fortress (though caravans can bring instruments or instrument parts made out of other types of glass), and the potter will choose the material for ceramic instruments. Assembling the instrument after all the components are finished is also performed in a craftsdwarf's workshop, and the skill needed to assemble it is defined by the material of the "main" part of the instrument (see below).
Specific instruments, their names and the kinds of components they are built of are generated at world generation and are usually specific for each civilization. Traders may bring instrument components, but you will be unable to assemble them into instruments unless your dwarves have the necessary knowledge.
In order to find out what instruments are available to your fortress, go to a craftsdwarf's workshop and look under the instrument section. It will show most of the available instruments. Highlight each individual instrument will show their description and material required. Any instruments with a single component can be made directly. More complex ones require instrument pieces to be made first and the option associated with them is assemble XXX. Record the name of the instrument and enter the manager screen with - . Typing in the name of the instrument will show all the pieces required (possibly from other workshops). Single-piece instruments created at other workshops will not be listed in the craftsdwarf's shop; those can be found by checking the potential workshops or scrolling through possible jobs in the manager screen.
During a strange mood, dwarves may create instruments which use improper materials and/or do not include the required components (e.g. a metal-bells-on-a-glass-stand instrument made from wood with spikes of leather).
Dwarves will use instruments in taverns or temples only if they know a song or dance that requires their use. If you see a dwarf with the job status "Simulate *instrument name*" then the dwarf would use that instrument if it were available.
Below are tables of parts that instruments can have and what materials they may require. It should be noted that, for a given world, only one material type is possible for each specific component. Thus, if a given instrument uses a metal keyboard material, it cannot be made using any other materials.
*: The "main" part, from which the instrument takes its description, e.g. a superior quality black bronze stelid. The main part also determines which skill is used to assemble the instrument (bonecarving, glassmaking, leatherworking, metalcrafting, pottery, stonecrafting or woodcrafting)
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Due to the procedurally-generated nature of the instruments, it can be expected to see some resemblance to certain real-world instruments such as organs, as many large stationary instruments will include metal pipes and various keyboards as components. It should also be noted that dwarven ingenuity can create instruments that could not be considered playable in the real world, such as the Kat: a small hand-held percussion instrument consisting of a metal block. The "musician" shakes the block. The instrument has a single high pitch. Due to the block's only means of producing this high pitch being the displacement of air as it is shaken, it can be inferred that the dwarf shakes the block at several kHz, providing a great source of strength and endurance based cross-training for military dwarves.
|Single-part instrument - example raws (as extracted from world.dat)|
item_layer [OBJECT:ITEM] [ITEM_INSTRUMENT:ENT51_INW2] [GENERATED] [SOURCE_ENID:51] [NAME:ushlub:ushlub] [VALUE:50] [SIZE:19000] [MATERIAL_SIZE:3] [BONE_MAT] [SOUND_PRODUCTION:BLOW_AGAINST_FIPPLE:SELF] [PITCH_CHOICE:STOPPING_HOLE_KEY:SELF] [VOLUME_mB:0:10000] [PITCH_RANGE:-1650:2350] [TIMBRE:NOISY:FULL:DARK] [MUSIC_SKILL:PLAY_WIND_INSTRUMENT] [DESCRIPTION:The ushlub is a mid-size hand-held cylindrical bore bone wind instrument with a flared bell. The musician blows into the fipple at one end. The musician selects the pitch by pressing keys to stop holes. The instrument has a three-octave range going from a mid-low to a high pitch. The instrument has a noisy full dark timbre.]
|Multi-part instrument - example raws (as extracted from world.dat)|
item_layer [OBJECT:ITEM] [ITEM_TOOL:ENT51_INS1_BODY] [GENERATED] [SOURCE_ENID:51] [NO_DEFAULT_JOB] [INCOMPLETE_ITEM] [UNIMPROVABLE] [NAME:etes body:etes bodies] [VALUE:10] [METAL_MAT] [TILE:155] [UNIMPROVABLE] [SIZE:34200] [MATERIAL_SIZE:3] [DESCRIPTION:The etes body of the instrument vibrates with strings, producing sound.] item_layer [OBJECT:ITEM] [ITEM_TOOL:ENT51_INS1_STRINGS] [GENERATED] [SOURCE_ENID:51] [NO_DEFAULT_JOB] [INCOMPLETE_ITEM] [UNIMPROVABLE] [NAME:etes strings:etes strings] [VALUE:10] [METAL_MAT] [TILE:155] [UNIMPROVABLE] [SIZE:1800] [MATERIAL_SIZE:3] [DESCRIPTION:The etes strings vibrate, causing the instrument to produe sound.] item_layer [OBJECT:ITEM] [ITEM_TOOL:ENT51_INS1_PROD] [GENERATED] [SOURCE_ENID:51] [NO_DEFAULT_JOB] [INCOMPLETE_ITEM] [UNIMPROVABLE] [NAME:etes bow:etes bows] [VALUE:10] [WOOD_MAT] [TILE:155] [UNIMPROVABLE] [SIZE:2000] [MATERIAL_SIZE:3] [DESCRIPTION:The etes bow is drawn across the strings of the instrument.] item_layer [OBJECT:ITEM] [ITEM_INSTRUMENT:ENT51_INS1] [GENERATED] [SOURCE_ENID:51] [NAME:etes:etes] [VALUE:50] [SIZE:36000] [DOMINANT_MATERIAL_PIECE:BODY] [INSTRUMENT_PIECE:BODY:ENT51_INS1_BODY:body:bodies:STANDARD] [INSTRUMENT_PIECE:STRINGS:ENT51_INS1_STRINGS:strings:strings:ALWAYS_PLURAL] [INSTRUMENT_PIECE:PROD:ENT51_INS1_PROD:bow:bows:STANDARD] [VOLUME_mB:0:10000] [SOUND_PRODUCTION:BOWED:PROD:STRINGS] [PITCH_CHOICE:SUBPART_CHOICE:STRINGS] [PITCH_RANGE:-3240:3360] [TUNING:PEGS:STRINGS] [TIMBRE:VIBRATING:BRITTLE:STRIDENT] [MUSIC_SKILL:PLAY_STRINGED_INSTRUMENT] [DESCRIPTION:The etes is a large hand-held metal-stringed instrument with a metal body. The instrument rests flat as the musician plays the fifty-six main strings with a wooden bow. A drone string is occasionally plucked. Tuning is accomplished by pegs. The instrument has a five-and-a-half octave range going from a very low to a very high pitch. The instrument has a vibrating brittle strident timbre.]