The Musician's Companion: A Guide to Playing Music in Middle Earth

Intro and commentary by Cameron "Aelryn" Sorden

Information from Glenn's music page, used with permission

So, maybe you've heard about this wacky music system that lets you play real music in-game. You've probably seen the people standing around in Bree banging out swingin' tunes. Maybe you've even dabbled with the /music command a bit. If so, you probably quickly discovered that it's a pretty robust and powerful system-- musical newbies need not apply. If you don't know much about music in real life, it can be a little daunting. Worry not! I was once in the same boat as you, friend, and now I can pluck out songs with the best of them. With a little help from this guide, we'll have you playing like a pro in no time. Read on to begin your musical journey in the land of Middle Earth!

Getting Started

The first thing you'll need to do is make sure that your character has their instrument skills trained. No skills, no songs. You get these from your class trainer at level 5 as a passive skill. Every class gets the lute proficiency and one other instrument with the exception of the Minstrel, who can play all of them. Here's a quick list of who gets what for reference:

Burglars, Hunters, and Lore-Masters play the clarinet.

Captains, Champions, and Guardians play the horn.

The harp and flute are Minstrel-only. Sorry for all you non-Minstrel harp enthusiasts!

Once you've gotten the necessary skills from your trainer (which you can verify by looking at your passive skills tab), you'll need to buy the correct instrument. Any will do for making music, but obviously you need the ones that correspond to your skills. You'll find all of the basic instruments at your friendly neighborhood bard for a few silver (it's the same place where you equip traits).

Equip your instrument by right-clicking it or dropping it into your instrument slot, and you're ready to rock-- literally! You can now press enter and type "/music" to enter music mode, at which point you can begin using the keyboard to play notes.

Do, a Deer, a Female Deer, Re, a Drop of Golden Sun

Once in music mode, you can press the keys 1-8 to play notes, using shift and ctrl to go high or low. You can play pretty much anything using this system. For the musically inclined, Northwoods has created a useful scale for both playing music and converting sheet music over to LOTRO. Notes in greyish-yellow mean hold down the CTRL key and notes in light blue mean hold down the SHIFT key while pressing that note:

If you're a little bit more like me and you can't tell a B sharp from a D flat, you'll probably find this simplified note list from Neonin immensely helpful:

C = Shift + 8

B = Shift + 7

A = Shift + 6

G = Shift + 5

F = Shift + 4

E = Shift + 3

D = Shift + 2

C = Shift + 1 OR the key 8 on its own (Middle C)

B = 7

Bb/A# = CTRL + 7

A = 6

Ab/G# = CTRL + 6

G = 5

Gb/F# = CTRL + 5

F = 4

E = 3

Eb/D# = CTRL + 3

D = 2

Db/C# = CTRL + 2

C = 1

B = CTRL + 1

Feel the rhythm in your soul! Make some music, mon!

Some of you are probably gurgling and clawing at your eyes right about now. But hey, remember what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tells us: Don't Panic! That previous section is really only necessary if you want to convert sheet music to LOTRO or compose your own songs. For the rest (most) of us, someone else was nice enough to do the heavy lifting. It's pretty easy from there to learn to play; it just takes a little practice. Lets start with something simple: Camptown Races!

Get your character set up using the instructions in the "Getting Started" section. Once you're ready to begin playing, tap these numbers:

5535 653 32 32 5535 653 2 32 1

You'll get a feel for the timing pretty quickly. This one is very simple, but it's just to get you used to playing with the number keys. After you're comfortable with Camptown Races, move on to something a little harder. Chopsticks requires you to play two lines at once, creating chords.

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4  3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3  2 2 2 2 3 2  1 1 1 1
5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5  5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5  7 7 7 7 6 7  8 8 8 8

So, you'll be using two fingers on each beat: 4&5, 3&5, 2&7 (watch out for that 3&6 towards the end), and 1&8. After a few minutes getting a feel for chords, you'll be ready to try your hand at using shift(numbers designated in italics)and control (numbers designated in bold). Try a little Frere Jacques to get the hang of using the shift key (note the last two 5's are not italicized).

1 2 3 1

1 2 3 1

3 4 5

3 4 5

5 6 5 4 3 1

5 6 5 4 3 1

5 1

5 1

There aren't many songs where you'll have to mix CTRL notes and SHIFT notes, so don't worry about that too much. By now, you're probably feeling pretty confident in your musical abilities, and you should be. You have three songs in your repertoire that almost everyone can recognize! Practice those for a while until you've really got them down, and then you can use your newfound musical skills to tackle much harder fare like the Star Wars theme, the Mario Bros. theme, and actual rock songs.

Glenn maintains a regularly updated song list and more musical details right here, so I suggest you head there to start looking for new music to impress your friends with. Congratulations! You've gone from a talentless nobody to a musical genius in just under 20 minutes! You must be some kind of prodigy.

Now go out into Middle Earth and show everyone your newfound mad musical skillz.

- Cameron

"Aelryn" Sorden

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016