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July 17, 1996


Shinnai (#1357)

A woman of medium height and skin the color of tanned cherry wood, Shinnai would likely be slender if her job allowed her more respite from her desk. Her features, while not really pretty, are distinct - high cheekbones, a straight nose between deepset almond-shaped eyes of an aqua so deep as to appear nearly black. Her hair is a silky, indeterminate length of dark brown which is consistently tied up out of her way.
An ornate knot of Istan colors and harper blue marks her rank as a master, Ista's Hold Harper. Shinnai is 30 Turns, 1 month, and 14 days old.

Seamus (#5551)

At first glance, Seamus seems to be a living inconsistancy. The Harper's lean, willowy build accentuated by cords of thin muscle, Holdless years etched into his physical being. He stands six feet in height, not so tall but assured in bearing. Fine, coppery-brown hair, a forelock streaked with white, hangs down slightly past his shoulders, as hazel-amber eyes shine with mischief and secrets. Sharp features, long limbs, and slightly pointed ears add an other-worldly aspect to Seamus, a remembrance of the long forgotten Fey. His ever present smile and expressive eyes show a warm, caring person, always eager to lend a hand or give advice. Imperceptibly, his barely handsome appearance is marred by a faint scar upon his brow.
After that cursory glance, you feel Seamus directing his attentions toward you. With a side-long glance and a roguish half-smile, he meets your gaze. Within that look is a wisdom far more than his years should allow, as he seems barely over 17 Turns. His eyes pierce through you, to the heart, as he delves beyond your shell and into your soul, searching. After finding an unknown answer, the boyish facade is re-woven, only barely covering the previous moment. The time spent confined seems to have answered questions of his own, as an aura of acceptance and serenity settles around the Harper. Finally, he has merged his Holdless past to his Harper present, ready to throw his entirety
into the future. Seamus is 23 Turns, 2 months, and 18 days old.


Aleta (#6290)

Lithe, slim, reed-thin... however you choose to describe a dancer's body, Aleta certainly posesses one. Her hair, rich golden blonde, falls to just below her shoulder in its soft  waves, her blue eyes sparkle in the narrow, pale face. She seems almost elongated, with long legs, arms, and fingers. Each step is taken with graceful precision forewards, and a smile seems permanently stuck to her lips.
Aleta wears her Harper Apprentice knot on her shoulder with pride. Aleta is 17 Turns, 9 months, and 18 days old.


Cimorene (#4958)

Cimorene meets your gaze squarely and raises her chin defiantly. Her eyes are very dark brown, almost black, with flashes of fire in their depths. She is rather tall, and more skinny than slender, though the effect is not unattractive. Cimorene usually has her waist-length jet black hair plaited into two braids down her back. She is very strong-willed, though a less complementary way of putting it (and the term that most people use) is that she is exceedingly stubborn. She does her own thing, the way she wants to do it, and woe to the person who thinks they can stand in her way. She has a flair for the ironic, and a  very dry wit. She hates busy-work, and will do nearly anything to avoid it. She is, altogether, a very intense person. Cimorene is 17 Turns, 11 months, and 9 days old.


Keven (#5901)

You see a young man with long dark hair in a ponny tail. He is tall and a bit thin, but well trained. His eyes are a mix of green and brown, which seams to change after the weather: when it's sunny outside they tend to be green, but when rain falls they become deep brown. His hands are thin but quick, exellent for playing gitar or similar instruments. He is a bit quiet and often waits untill everybody else has spoken before talking. Because of this people often don't notice or forget about his presence. He often smiles and in the presence of friends and people he trusts he likes to joke. When he breaks out of his
silence he is a good leader and a man who likes to organize. People often trust
him and he has an easy time getting friends, despite his somewhat quiet appearance. He learns easily and an exellent memory which has made studies a lot easier.
Keven wears his Harper apprentice knot with great pride. Keven is 18 Turns, 1 month, and 10 days old.

Shainman Rehearsal Hall (#4130)

The largest room in the Istan Harper Hall, save the Ballroom, this room has wonderful acoustics that make sound bounce off the walls just so. From lessons to rehearsal to just listening to the marvelous sounds always filling the room, there's always a surplus of people about, harpers of every rank, and even a few holders. Tiers fill almost every wall in the room, the choir levels on the right, the orchestra one directly in and other smaller areas for more specific group rehearsal on the left. The room is spotlessly clean and only
completely empty in the early hours of the morning when most harpers have to tear themselves away from their work for a few winks of sleep. In the harper office, you see one firelizard. Outside in the ballroom, you see one firelizard and two people. Watching from a high ledge is Tartan. Cimorene is here.


Cimorene wanders around the hall, whistling to herself and listening to the echoes.

Shinnai carries a number of instrument cases in from the office, carefully keeping them from falling to the floor.

Keven walks in from the ballroom.

Cimorene reaches Shinnai in her circling and halts. "Hey, I'll carry a couple of those for you..."

Keven smiles to both harpers as he enters.

Shinnai unloads a couple of cases onto Cimorene. "Thanks, Cim. Just set them down over here," she nods in the appropriate direction.

Aleta sweeps with an air of elegance and grace in from the ballroom.

Shinnai disgorges the instrument cases from her arms, placing them side by side on the long table.

Cimorene cheerfully wrestles the cases to the area indicated, then bends over in odd directions trying to set them down carefully.

Keven raises an eyebrow "What's going on?"

From Aleta's shoulder, Persephone peers out at the world. Where're we going? Aleta smiles at everyone and waves and tries to console the pretty little thing who just got picked up and hauled down here without getting told what was going on.

Shinnai turns to face the arriving apprentices. "We're going to learn to play a bowed instrument today. Specifically, the viola."

Cimorene looks up and smiles brightly. "Really? Oh...fantastic!"

Keven smiles "The viola? Nice!"

Shinnai scans the room. "Who else is missing, still?" she wonders. "I guess we'll just wait another few moments before starting." She smiles. "Have any of you ever played a bowed instrument before?"

Aleta pales slightly. She hasn't even mastered basic chords on the gitar yet, and now she's going to be learning viola? Eek. But Percy and Shadow do their best to console her, also managing to get royally in the way. She shakes her head. "No..."

Cimorene shakes her head, gazing at the instruments lined up on the table, fingers twitching.

Keven shakes his head "No never"

Shinnai smiles encouragingly. "Great, then you're all at the same level. Makes it easier for the class as a whole."

Shakar walks in from the ballroom.

Shakar (#6351)

A man who seems to glow with life.....
Shakar is 17 Turns, 2 months, and 3 days old.

Shinnai smiles to Shakar. "Can I help you? We're just about to start here."

Shakar says, "um...sorry, got lost somewhere" Shakar looks very confused

Shinnai walks over to greet Shakar. "Can I help you?" she asks again, as the various apprentices assemble for the upcoming lesson.

Seamus glides, like a shadow, in from the ballroom.


Shakar says, "hmm....I'm sorry" Shakar says, "disturbing you and all"

Keven puts his gitar away since they're doing viola lesson.

Aleta pries golden tail away from her neck. "You're a beautiful little darling, but I can't play with you strangling me." Persephone chirrs unhappily and complies. "That's better, sweet." Then, she looks at Shinnai.

"Are we about to start, then?"


Shakar walks into the harper office.

Shinnai smiles to Seamus as he enters, briefly, then was about to reply to Shakar.

Cimorene smiles, tearing her gaze from those tempting new instruments for a moment.

Keven looks up as he hears someone enter "Hi there Seamus!"

Seamus smiles, waving to everyone here, too. "Morning, all," he grins.  "What've I walked in on today?"

Shinnai peers out the door, making sure the curious fellow doesn't bug the scribes in the office. "Well, he's gone. Strange man," she observes. "Yes, we're about to start," she answers Aleta, finally.

Shinnai goes back to the laid-out instrument cases again. "Alright, is everyone present? Then we'll get started. We're going to learn a new instrument today, to give you all a wider concept of music and a musician's skills."

Aleta releases Persephone, who launches into the air. Aleta releases Shadowdancer, who launches into the air.

Shinnai unlatches the first of the cases. "It looks like we've enough violas for each of you to use one. Do be careful with them, though," she admonishes automatically. "That's all we've got!"

Keven smiles as he looks over at the strange instruments.

Persephone settles onto a perch where she can watch her pet. Shadowdancer settles next to her, a protective eye on his little shouldermate. Aleta, below, looks a little dubious. "I'm not sure about this..."

Shinnai picks up the first viola. "Now, I'm sure you've all seen this played at one time or other. In construction, it's the same as a violin, only slightly larger. Does anyone know what the difference in tuning is between a violin and a viola?"

Cimorene reaches out with one hand to touch the wood of the instrument reverently. She smiles.

Shinnai plucks each string at a time, starting with the lowest, each a fifth apart.

Shinnai says, "Does anyone know what the tuning of a violin is, for that matter?"

Keven looks uncertain "Ehh... nope"

Keven says, "Can I guess?"

Shinnai smiles. "Sure, Keven. Go ahead."

Aleta just looks a little blank. She can read music, but just barely... playing anything is really beyond her.

Keven says, "Starting from above, E, A, D, G?"

Shinnai grins. "That's correct! Now, do you know what the tuning of the viola is, or would you like to guess?"

Keven looks over at the the thing to check that it really got 4 strings.

Shinnai grins as he finds out that yes, it has 4 strings. :)

Keven smiles "I'll try another guess... D,G,H(B),E?

Shinnai smiles. "No, you're taking that from the guitar, aren't you? Actually, a viola's tuning is only a fifth lower than the violin. That means the strings, from the top, are A," she plucks each again as she speaks, "D, G, and C."

Keven nods "Yeah! I only play the gitar so I guessed it was some sort of 4 stringed gitar."

Shinnai grins. "Good thinking."

Shinnai says, "So, given the range of pitch - a middle range, approximately equivalent to a low alto or high tenor voice - what would you expect the viola's main purpose in ensemble to be?"

Shinnai directs the question to anyone.

Cimorene hmms. "Melody sometimes and alto harmonies?"

Shinnai smiles to Cimorene. "Sometimes that, and sometimes tenor harmonies. For instance, do you know what instruments are in a typical string quartet?"

Aleta blinks and is just completely clueless. *sigh*

Keven is too.

Shinnai glances around, then answers the question herself. "Two violins, one viola," she holds up the instrument, "and one cello. The violins split the melody and alto harmonies, generally, while the viola and cello play tenor and bass, respectively. Of course, it's up to the composer, but that's the way it usually works."

Shinnai says, "Any questions so far?"

Keven says, "The cello? Do we have one here?"

Shinnai nods. "Yes, we have one here."

Keven smiles "I'd love to learn to play that, but this was a viola lesson right?"

Aleta nods emphatically. "I didn't understand much of what you just said... I know music in relation to /dance/. Not in relation to instruments. This hasn't made a bit of sense to me so far..."

Shinnai grins at Keven. "Yes, today is viola. Cello is another lesson."


Seamus watches the lesson from a seat upon the lowest tier, glancing suspiciously toward the instruments.

Keven smiles and shrugs "Ok"

Shinnai nods to Aleta, then leans against a handy desk to speak to her. "In that case, let me see..." she thinks, then starts an explanation. Or so she hopes.

Shinnai says, "Aleta, have you ever heard this instrument played? Usually, you'll hear it in ensembles - and very often, at dances."

Shinnai takes the bow from the case, places the viola between shoulder and chin, and draws the bow across the strings to let Aleta hear the tone.


Aleta nods at Shinnai. "Of course."

Shinnai says, "Then we're starting from a common ground." She smiles, holding the instrument out. "You'll see that it has four strings. You remember what we said it was tuned to?"


Shinnai says, "Alright. So, you hear the mellow, low tone of the instrument. Because
of this, it usually plays the same sort of part that a tenor might sing, in a group. Does that make sense, Aleta? Don't be afraid to say no."

Aleta nods slowly. "I think so."

Shinnai says, "Ok. I'm just attempting to give you a little background on the
instrument before we start torturing any felines..." she grins at her own, rather lame, joke.

Aleta blinks, it completely passing her by, but smiles. "Okay..."

Keven nods.

Shinnai looks around. "Has everyone got a viola and bow?" she wonders. "Now, we can leave the construction of these things for shop class, I think, and get started on the mechanics."

Aleta nods, although she has absolutely no clue how to hold the thing.

Keven nods as he's looking down on the instrument.

Seamus grins, still watching the violas suspiciously. "Uh oh," he says, mostly to himself, while eyeing the others critically. Why does this sound like it'll hurt...?

Shinnai says, "Good. We'll start with the bow." She holds her own up, the block at one end held lightly in her right hand, fingers splayed slightly to support the length. "This end," she points to the end she grasps, "is called the 'frog'."

Keven looks over at the end "Frog?"

Shinnai spares an amused glance for Seamus, then continues. "Don't ask me why it's called that," she grins, "it just is. The end you grasp is the frog, and the other end, the pointy one" she touches the point at the other end of the bow, "is called the 'tip'."

Aleta makes hasty mental notes. Frog. Tip. Okay. She's got it.

Keven smiles and looks over the.. 'stick'.

Shinnai says, "Indeed, the rest of it is the 'stick', Keven."

Keven looks genuinely surprised "Whoaa! my guesses really turn out well today"

Shinnai grins. "So they do. Now, everyone hold your bows in your right hands, just like I am. Your hand should be relaxed, not stiff -- your thumb must be bent, to keep you from stiffening up."

Aleta takes bow in right hand--of course it's relaxed, that's something she's good at--and bends her thumb like shown. "Okay..."

Keven holds his 'bow' in his right hand while watching Shinnai. The bow moves a little from right to left not quite steady.

Shinnai says, "It takes some practice to keep the bow steady. Hold it vertically, and move it toward you, and away from you - careful, keep it straight up and down. Don't let it wobble."

Shinnai demonstrates.

Keven looks at Shinnai before trying.

Seamus is now glad he's chosen not to take up the viola. He'd poke someone's eye out. He knows it...

Shinnai says, "And then, side to side, and up and down. Don't be discouraged if you can't keep it perfectly still."

Keven moves the bow quite slowly steadying it with his thumb as he takes long strokes.

Keven reads Seamus' mind and chuckles.:)

Aleta tries it, just like indicated... she isn't afraid she'll poke someone's eye out, but this is still new to her.

Shinnai says, "You'll use your first finger, your thumb, and your little finger to balance the bow in your hand. If it starts to wobble, use your little finger for leverage."

Shinnai watches the wobbling bows around the room slowly get a little straighter. "Good!"


Keven feels some strain to the right hand, as a gitarist he isn't used to do fine work with his right hand.

Shinnai smiles. "Alright, put the bow down and shake out your hand for moment. Now, we'll go to the viola."

Shinnai puts down the bow, and takes the instrument. She holds it from the fingerboard, the scroll up and the body of the viola down, in her left hand.


Keven sighs a little of relief as he lowers the right hand, he shakes it in various directions to remove the stiffness.

Aleta tries this method, and smiles as it doesn't wobble quite so much. Then she sets the bow down, and takes the viola.

Keven lifts the viola and holds it like Shinnai, by the fingerboard. Keven looks at the viola with a worried expression "Hey there are no frets on this thing!"

Shinnai says, "First, stand up. Set your feet a little apart - about shoulder distance - and then turn your left foot about sixty degrees out, and slightly forward."

Shinnai grins at Keven. "Of course there aren't. That's one of the benefits."

Keven raises an eyebrow "Benefits?"

Keven stands up as he's talking.

Aleta stands, and positions herself easily. That's the easy part. She still looks dubious. "What's a fret?"

Shinnai stands in the position, balanced relaxedly on her feet. "Yes, benefits, Keven," she smiles. "You can do things with a viola that you can't with frets - a slide, for instance. You don't need anything special. Also, you can get half-tones - those notes in between the frets."

Keven nods "Yes I see, but it would help to see where to put your fingers."

Shinnai says, "A fret," she explains to Aleta, "is one of these small bars you see on most guitars' fingerboards. They allow a guitarist to get a consistent pitch when fingering complex chords.""

Aleta ohs, and still looks confused, just not as much as before.

Shinnai grins. "You'll learn where your fingers go soon enough. It doesn't take all that much with a good ear."

Keven says, "Why don't they just paint frets on the viola, then you would see where to put your finger without destroying the sliding effect."

Keven says, "It would help in the beginning."

Shinnai, standing with her feet in position, extends her left arm, still dangling the viola, away from her body. "Hold your arm out," she instructs.

To Keven, she replies, "That's often done, in the beginning. But since these are the Hall's instruments, and not only for beginners, we can't do that."


Shinnai says, "Now, turn your wrist so that the viola is standing straight up in the air. You can steady it with your other hand if you need to."

Keven smiles "Oh ok" He stands like Sinnai holding his arm out.


Shinnai does just that, then pulls the upright viola down in an arc to land gently on her shoulder. "Then, bring it in to your shoulder, and put your chin down on the chinrest," she demonstrates, her chin landing on a small black piece of wood clamped to the viola's body to give her better purchase.

Keven nods to Shinnai and moves the viola up over his arm and to the shoulder, then carefully he lays his head down.

Shinnai says, "Now, you'll often see players get lazy and cover the chinrest with their whole cheek," she cautions. "That can cause stiffness in the neck, however, and should be avoided as a general rule."

Aleta follows along all this, trying to do just what she's supposed to do.


Shinnai grins. "Now, the trick is to hold it entirely with your chin and shoulder, leaving your hand to do other things independently." she removes her hand from the viola's neck and waves it about unconcernedly. "Careful the first time, though, it can be heavy if you're not used to it."

Keven looks from his position on the viola out over the fingerboard, "Hmm now this looks strange, you see the finger board like a road going from you. This will make it hard to judge distances."

Keven strikes a tone on his viola but all tat comes out of the thing is a half muted, half strangled.. something, certainly not a tone. "Hmm..."

Shinnai says, "Well, Keven, you're not supposed to judge distances with your eye. You'll learn the feel of it, and you'll judge your position by that and by pitch."

Keven smiles "Ahh just listen to that.. beautiful"

Shinnai winces. "Now you know what I meant by torturing felines," she mumbles. "Hold off a moment, Keven, before you kill it," she teases.

Keven chuckles and throws a longing look on his beloved gitar.

Cimorene stands there like a nerd with a viola on her shoulder ;) She frowns in deep concentration, waiting for the signal to play. Or try. Or torture kitties.

Seamus hides his cringe, and grimace, behind a slight smile.

Shinnai says, "Now, before we add the bow in, rest the thumb of your left hand near the end of the fingerboard, where the scroll begins. Not *on* the scroll, just in front of it." Shinnai places her thumb in the appropriate spot, turning her body to show all and sundry.

Cimorene looks at Shinnai's demo and copies her stance to the best of her ability.

Keven moves out his hand on the fingerboard once again "Hmm like a gitar but smaller"

Shinnai says, "Then, you curl the rest of your hand gently around, without grabbing the neck, but leaving a nice space between your hand and the wood. Place your first finger down on the string, pressing it down to the fingerboard."

Keven curls his hand while looking out from the viola "How hard should I press?"

Shinnai demonstrates, then deshoulders her own viola to come around and inspect the students' posture. "I should be able to fit my finger between the bottom of the neck of the viola and your hand.

Cimorene winces slightly as she pushes the string down to the 'board, trying to resist the urge to strangle the viola-neck.

Shinnai inspects Cimorene's hand, pulling the girl's wrist back and down slightly to allow the hand freer movement.

Cimorene wills her hand to stay in its new position. Stay! Stay! Good hand.


Shinnai encourages Cimorene. "Good! Keep it relaxed. Don't strangle it, it hasn't done anything to you," she grins. "How are you doing, Keven?"

Keven looks over the fingerboard "Hmm good question, I bet you know that better then me" Keven tries to relax at the same time as he press the finger at the string.

Shinnai pushes the scroll of Keven's viola up slightly, causing him to stand up straighter. "It gets heavy, but don't get in the habit of slouching," she warns. "Good, just use the leverage between your thumb and forefinger to press the string down. It doesn't require that much force."

Cimorene giggles slightly and tries to loosen up her hands a bit.

Keven nods and sighs a little of relief as Shinnai straightens his back "Ahh... that was nice"

Shinnai picks up Keven's bow, tightens the hair slightly, and takes his right hand. "Now, let's add the bow." she allows Keven to place his fingers on the bow, holding it gently but steadily.

Shinnai says, "When you put the bow on the string, it should be halfway between the bridge," she points to the thing that holds the strings up, "and the end of the fingerboard. That's where you'll get the most even tone."

Keven nods and discovers that that was a mistake since he makes the whole viola nod "opps sorry"

Shinnai guides Keven's bow to the string, putting it down relatively close on the bow to the frog, and halfway between the bridge and fingerboard.

Shinnai grins. "No slouching," she warns, going to aid Cimorene and Aleta with the bow.

Aleta wasn't slouching! Honest! She doesn't slouch. She just isn't very good at the /rest/ of it.

Shinnai says, "Now, feel where that is, then, to pull the bow across the string, simply straighten your arm away from you."

Shinnai says, "Allow your wrist to move freely."

Shinnai puts her own viola in position again, and takes her bow, places it on the string, and draws a note.

Keven takes a deep breath "ok here goes" He lets the bow move across the strings between the board and where the strings begin, and to his supprice out comes a clean quite nice tone.

Cimorene moves the bow carefully across the strings... *SQUAWK* Cimorene winces. "Sorry!"

Shinnai grins. "Good, Keven! Now, take an 'up-bow' - pull your wrist back toward your nose, keeping the bow moving straight across."


Seamus glances quickly around for the wherry...

Shinnai grins at Cimorene. "It's only to be expected, don't worry. Here, try that again." She guides Cim's bow onto the string, then touches her arm to tell it where it ought to be as she pulls.

Cimorene pulls back dubiously in the right direction. Oh, poor kitty! No wait, that's just Cim playing again.

Keven carefully strokes the bow back again, the tone that comes out is clean at first but then strangles into one of those wherry squawks.

Keven smiles "Ops!"

Shinnai grins. "That's right, now the other direction." she guides Cimorene's wrist back directly toward her nose.

Cimorene pushes as indicated and smiles as something akin to a tone emerges.

Shinnai says, "There! Now, Keven," she turns, "Don't tense up. Gently.""

Eli walks in from the ballroom.

Seamus waves to Eli from his perch atop the low tier, knees pulled up to his chest. No, they're not there to cover his ears. Really. "Morning, Eli."

Keven smiles from his viola "Hi Eli!"

Eli says, "Morning. What's up?"

Shinnai smiles to Eli, then turns back to the class. "Ok, now, we try for the next finger. Put your second finger on the string, and pull the bow across.

Shinnai says, "Good progress, folks. Any final questions?"

Keven shakes his head "Nope"

Aleta shakes her head. She still isn't very good, but... "Er... no."

Shinnai says, "Alright, then. You're welcome to come down and practice, or ask for help, at any time now that you've had an introduction to the viola. That goes for the violin, too."

Keven smiles "Thanks for the lesson Master Shinnai"'

Shinnai smiles. "Good work. Make sure that you loosen the bow before you put it away," she cautions, putting her own viola back in its case."

Keven nods "Ohh.. ok"

Shinnai smiles and waves. "Have a good time. Don't forget to put them away in the office."

Logfile from Shinnai





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