Once a year, Lord of the Rings Online players gather for a day of music and dancing at the player-run Weatherstock event , and it's happening right now on the Landroval server.
LOTRO has a full musical system that let you "play" the wide variety of instruments in the game live by using the buttons on your keyboard, composing music on the fly. You can also pre-record or script music to play, and there will be a mix of pre-recorded music and live playing at today's Weatherstock event.
It starts at 1 PM PST, but bands are already warming up. You can watch it live on MMOReporter's stream all day long.
If you'd rather attend in person, it's easy to do. Lord of the Rings Online is a free-to-play game, so just download the client if you haven't already and create a character on the Landroval server. To find the festivities in-game, head to The Lone Lands and climb to the top of Weathertop there.
If you get lost, just ask for directions--I've found LOTRO players to be quite friendly. Don't forget to turn off ambient music and other audio frills that might clash with the music.
If you want to pick out the live bands from those that've pre-recorded, just watch the notes that float above their heads. If the notes are not filled in, then that person is using a pre-made song--filled-in notes mean they're playing on the fly.
We covered last year's Weatherstock event in the magazine last year, and I've included last year's article below, which explains the music system really well.
By Chris Perry
Wanna-be rockers have been playing with the music system in Lord of the Rings Online since the game launched in 2007. It's a fully ABC music player, meaning that it uses a complete musical notation system like we're used to seeing, which allows inspired players to create musical creations as complex as they can imagine. This has sparked a sub-community of musicians within the game that host community events that can brighten even the darkest day in Middle-earth.
There are ten instruments in the game, however—Clarinet, Flute, Harp, Horn, Lute, Drum, Theorbo (bass), Bagpipes and Cowbell—and only Minstrels can master them all. Other classes are able to learn the Lute plus one other instrument, which depends on your class. Bards will train your musical skills and also help you choose which traits to equip. Once you're trained and have your instrument in-hand, you can choose to either play freestyle, or to use the built-in ABC system to perform pre-composed songs.
Now bear with me. We're going to get a little technical for this next part. All instruments are in concert pitch, with no transposition, and there are just over two octaves that prospective music savants can play with.
Using the 1 through 0 keys on their keyboards, players can play each of the notes in the C major scale (think Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music), use the Shift key to swift octaves, and the Ctrl key to drop the pitch one half step. Want to play a blues scale? 1, CTRL-3, 4, CTRL-5, 5, CTRL-7, 8. With that, you'll be strummin' the blues in no time.
The player piano of middle earth
Using the /play *songtitle* command (see below for more info on the ABC music system) allow players to perform prepared music solo or in groups. Want to know if that awesome lute players is playing the notes freestyle or ABC? Just look at the notes flowing above their heads. If they're hollow, then you're looking at someone who's found a great tune on The Fat Lute. If they're solid, then you've got a real virtuoso on your hands.
The community events in LOTRO add to the already stunning culture that exists in LOTRO's rich environments and lore. According to Goldenstar from A Casual Stroll to Mordor, a podcast and blog about Lord of the Rings Online, “[the music system] can set the perfect mood for themed events and creates a wonderful atmosphere for parties.” Two such parties are Weatherstock and Ales & Tales.
Weatherstock is the biggest of the two. This day-long festival of music and camaraderie takes place at the summit of Weathertop, encircled by the ruins where Frodo and his friends were attacked by the Nazgul. A series of competitive events (including a people's-choice category) has bands from across the server competing atop an impromptu stage for the adulation of the crowd.
Not as large, but more regular, is the Monday night Ales & Tales event that take place in various locations, once again on the Landroval server. This gathering of scribes, poets and musicians has each of them taking turns entertaining the audience with original creations.
Both events take place on the Landroval server and are hosted by The Lonely Mountain Band, whose leader Harperella, a musician in real life, has released an album of Middle-earth themed music called Beyond the Western Seas . Real life talent apparently transfers to in-game inspiration.
Epic Songs for Epic Times
Interested in playing some music of your own? The best resource for getting tunes into the game is definitely The Fat Lute . For group jam sessions, there are often separate instrument parts available.
Just find the song that you want, copy/paste the text into notepad, and save the file as *songname*.txt. Make sure you keep the title simple, to make it easier to remember when you're in game.
Faking it with the best of 'em
The ABC (an ASCII based music notation system) allows you to use one of the thousands of pre-written songs available on the internet for your musical pleasure. Just find your favorite song and put the .txt file in your My Documents > Lord of the Rings Online > Music directory.
Boot up the game and type the "/music" command, then type "/play songtitle" (insert the name of the song file that you created) and you'll be playing. To play with friends, use the "/play songtitle sync" while in a fellowship, and use the "/playstart" command to start the entire group!