"The Great Uniter"
The bards say that
music is the great uniter,
something that people who
differ on everything else
can have in common.
The Madhusudana love
woodwinds and strings,
especially flute and harp.
They are famous for
their conch horns and
After the fall of Shaunaka,
few of the elaborate instruments
survive, and so they turn instead
to plucking bowstrings or trading with
the Hachi for instruments made of reeds.
The Shu enjoy drums and woodwinds.
Most of their instruments are made
from wood, and they get reeds from
the Hachi. They are famed for
their all-wooden drums.
After the fall of Jehuti,
they switch to playing
wooden croakers or
clapsticks. They drum
on hollow logs or branches
when they can find some.
The Beneberak like
horns and strings. They
prefer simpler horns than
the Eofor do, such as bugles --
but they get quite elaborate with
stringed instruments including
twelve-stringed guitars and
After the fall of Demas,
they change to body music
and improvised instruments
such as blowing blades of grass.
As the refugees mingle together,
Hachi provide reeds and Beneberak
provide cases, inventing the harmonica.
The Hachi love drums and strings,
but nothing too fancy. A favorite is
the tortoiseshell drum. They also
make reed instruments like clarinets.
After the fall of Kamo, the simple reeds
become much more prevalent -- panpipes,
reed whistles, and reed flutes. They
tap on hollow shells without taking
the time to tan hides over them.
The Imran appreciate
woodwinds and horns, often
traded from other people.
They are especially fond of
movable horns like trombones.
After the fall of Zayd,
so little is left that they
turn to body music and
clicking rocks together.
The Eofor adore horns, drums,
and metallic percussion like chimes.
Among their favorites are ram horns
and elaborate valved horns made of brass.
They prefer drums with metal shells and
fanciful hardware for fine tuning.
Not much remains after
the fall of Hildeburh, so they
play spoons made from
scrap metal instead.
In partnership with the Shu,
who contribute the wooden boxes,
they hammer nails flat and
invent thumb pianos.
The dragons could
take the drums away,
the flutes and harps,
the clarinets and dulcimers,
even the sliding trombones --
they could burn the cities
and swallow the bards --
but they could not take away
the music of the peoples.
There is one instrument that
all the Six Races learn to play,
whose pieces lie everywhere:
after the Conflagration,
bones are the great uniter.
* * *
Read about the Six Races including the Madhusudana, the Shu, and the Beneberak.
"They took the drums away" is a line from Drumfolk by Step Afrika! referring to the history of slavery in America. So in addition to using the 1% as inspiration for a dragon infestation, I'm also connecting that with slaveowners.
Bones can be played as a musical instrument, very popular in black culture and other (mostly poor) folk traditions. Bones also have deep significance in African lore. In this case, a variety of nonhuman cultures have made similar discoveries for similar reasons.