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In the main palace in my world, there are no soldiers or guards, and in their place, there are musicians. This is because the musicians have instruments that double as weapons, and they have been trained to provide entertainment for the royals as well as to finish off any intruder that sneaks inside the palace.

My question is, what would be the most seamlessly hidden way of implementing a weapon into the musicians’ instruments, and kills the intruder the quickest and most efficiently?

Their instruments are mostly lyres and harps with a violin player as well.

The technology they have access to is advanced enough for blades and arrows and small firearms such as pistols (no automatic targeting or sensors or things like that) but they do not have many synthetic resources, instead they use materials such as metal or stone.

(Edit: I tagged my question as science-based because I preferred to have real-world answers, but if you have an interesting idea that’s not really realistic please do share anyways!)

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    $\begingroup$ What technology level? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 29 '20 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ Since these are stringed instruments, the most obvious answer would be garrots. deadliestwarrior.fandom.com/wiki/Garrote_Wire $\endgroup$ Sep 29 '20 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ Busking: Put the instrument case in the intruder's way and follow them (loudly) until they pay. This gives the Prince/Baron/Whatever plenty of time to get out of their lover's bed, yawn, stretch, use the privy, wind their crossbow, don their armor, maybe a bit to eat, and finally shoot the annoyed intruder in the face during a rousing ballad about donkeys and somebody's maternal grandparent. Then a bit more singing, a few drinks to celebrate, and back to bed (long day tomorrow). $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Sep 30 '20 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 This is hilarious and logical at the same time, thank you for the comment haha $\endgroup$
    – DanPar
    Sep 30 '20 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe check out Charles Stross' "laundry files" book series for inspiration. The protagonist's wife has a demonic violin that can turn bad guys into red mist. He has an in universe science explanation but not very realistic in the real world. $\endgroup$
    – RancidCrab
    Sep 30 '20 at 11:35
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The weapon is the music.

dancing mania

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/06/24/dancing-mania-aka-dancing-plague-choreomania-st-johns-dance/

Dancing mania... was a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people dancing erratically, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion... Affecting thousands of people across several centuries, dancing mania was not an isolated event, and was well documented in contemporary reports... Often musicians accompanied dancers, due to a belief that music would treat the mania, but this tactic sometimes backfired by encouraging more to join in.

Your musicians do not strangle people with their bowstrings. They change the song. And then, everyone dances. They have to. They cannot resist. That includes the court and bystanders too – everyone who can hear it except the musicians.

The deaf drummer will leave off and escort (or carry) nobility and innocents out of the room, or pass out wax earplugs. Then everyone watches the intruders dance. Dancing to exhaustion is the standard thing, after which the intruders are carted off. But there are other ways they can change the music and other ways this story can go - worse for the intruders and possibly more entertaining for the patrons. Or frightening.

These are not ordinary musicians. They are kin to river sprites, and the Pied Piper of Hamblin. They are treated respectfully, and they are always paid.

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Musical instruments are very fragile. They are designed around the sonics of the instrument and not around the durability; often made with soft woods. Even modern metal instruments such as trumpets, saxophones and flutes have a lot of small fragile parts that could be easily damaged. Finally the instruments themselves are usually created by master craftsmen which would cost 10x to 100x more than a brute soldiers weapon.

Old world style reed instruments such as the modern recorder could be quite large and while they are still fragile they might be used as a blunt weapon without taking too much damage. You also have more flexibility if the focus is on the durability and level of pain that could be caused over the quality of the music coming from the instrument.

A harp could never directly be used as a weapon but because of its large bulk and weight it could hide within its body a number of secret weapons. A violin bow uses hair in order to give it its tone; and only could be used as a weapon only if it has a sharp tip or when reversed has a sharp razor like back side.

So traditional soldiers weapons would not work, but they could use more subtle skills:

  • poisoned darts or tiny daggers/stars
  • dust blown or thrown could incapacitate an intruder
  • Some sounds MIGHT be possible to cause disorientation but that is getting outside of the science limitation

I would see these soldiers more like martial artists who use their weapons more as distractions like Jackie Chan than as direct weapons.

FYI:

You wrote science based so this does not answer your question, but there is an interesting story using instruments to support a magic system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spellsong_Cycle

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually, many instruments are made with medium hardness woods, but as little wood as possible. Hard woods resonate better, whereas soft woods absorb vibrations more and the notes will be quieter and resonate for a shorter duration. See Hermann Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone for a great primer on the physics of musical instruments. For example, some of the most common woods for modern guitars are maple and ash. A pine guitar would sound like garbage and likely bow under the stress of strings. String instrument necks are also typically cut with quartersawn wood which adds strength. $\endgroup$
    – JamesFaix
    Sep 30 '20 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't mean soft as the quality of wood, rather from the durability aspect of the wood. Often sounding boards and resonance chambers are made with thin pieces and would break on impact. A guitar or lyre could be made of the softer woods you mentioned, whereas something like a clarinet, oboe, or wooden flute is made with dense hardwoods such as en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebony. $\endgroup$
    – Phil M
    Sep 30 '20 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Could a stone violin work? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbird_(violin) $\endgroup$
    – DanPar
    Oct 1 '20 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @DanPar It is an interesting idea. Stone probably would not work, again too fragile, but the idea of crafting the instrument around the durability of the WILL change the tone and possibly even what we would consider musical. Switching to metal instead of wood would create a sound which is much brighter and more pure in tone (which means less depth and complexity) but if what people expect then it would still be beautiful. The bigger issue is keeping the instrument in tune. If it gets bent, then that could change the tone and everything about the quality of sound. $\endgroup$
    – Phil M
    Oct 2 '20 at 0:23
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Here's my ideas.

lyres- has been slightly enlarged and the end string is really thin but strong. if you take it and slam it down really hard, it will chop heads off and becomes a slicer thingy.

harps- a little big to be waving around, so the wires can be removed and used as a garrote, or some have handles and become whips.

violin- a rifle barrel is hidden just inside the neck of the instrument and the hollow body holds ammunition. Trigger could be anywhere you want, really. Point towards the intruder and bang. Might need some spare strings though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Violins, however, are very fragile. It would be difficult to maneuver a rifle barrel in there without a single shot destroying it. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '20 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Salami-tsunami, which is why it is spring-suspended upon manufacturing so it only touches the violin through a shock-absorption system to prevent such breakage. or you could just buy a new violin after each intruder. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '20 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Could a stone violin work? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbird_(violin) $\endgroup$
    – DanPar
    Oct 1 '20 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DanPar, would probably be sturdier but it looks a bit thin...still, would work a little better than a wood one. $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '20 at 14:39
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Instead of instruments themselves, use instrument's cases to hide the weapons.

This had been done numerous times in fiction.

enter image description here

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Yo dog I heard you like weapons so we put an axe into your axe so you can kill while you kill.

Gene Simmons

In the picture above you see Kids In Satan's Service bassist Gene Simmons, who built his bass out of a real axe shaped like an actual axe. It's not sharp, but is perfect to give someone else a beating. Other insane people have made electric guitars and basses built with child coffins (could do for a blunt weapon), microwave ovens (same), shovels, and videogame consoles (old consoles were quite solid and sturdy, so again, nice blunt weapon).

A tree cutting saw can be used as a musical instrument if you rub a violin bow against it. It would also make for a weapon.

To give the drummer some love, the butts of the drumsticks can be made sharp.

Finally, the vocalist can take levels in bard with a prestige class in metal so they may provide the audience on your side a +3 to hit and +5 damage mosh pit bonus.

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  • $\begingroup$ I dont think Gene Simmon's bass is made from a real axe, but designed to look like one. However shovel guitars from real shovels are a thing, and a cool one at that. Musical saw is a fantastic idea, but maybe suspicious. $\endgroup$
    – JamesFaix
    Sep 30 '20 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesFaix I think you are right, I've corrected the answer. $\endgroup$ Sep 30 '20 at 22:44
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  1. A flute combined with a blow gun would incorporate two things that have been around for millennia. If it had only a few holes, such that all could be covered by the players fingers, they could switch from playing by blowing in a direction tangential to the mouthpiece to blowing through the end, and BAM, poison dart in the neck.

  2. Cymbals with sharpened edges could easily work as death frisbees. Similar to the James Bond villain henchman Odd Job's razor brimmed hat.

    • If you want more range, finger cymbals could be used as ninja stars.

    • Alternately, cymbals could be used as a poor buckler. They would likely not effectively stop a sword or spear, but maybe could stop a small knife thrust.

  3. Sharpened drumsticks, or drumsticks with removable tips to unveil sharpened ends.

  4. The handle of a washtub bass could be removed and used as a bow staff.

  5. Piano wire is a classic assassin weapon in fiction. Carry some extra strings with you, because removing them is time consuming.

    • Alternately, if you have a piano, you could probably stash most weapons besides pole arms inside.
  6. Vocalist can sustain high notes at high volume and shatter crystal. Imagine a crystal chandelier over the target audience. Raining glass.

  7. I know you said low-tech, but the pyrophone is too cool not to mention. Maybe there could be a simpler version made with a wind instrument like a flute and distilled alcohol. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ try to make this a bit more of an in depth answer $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    Sep 30 '20 at 19:58

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