In most video games an epic song starts playing when characters fight. But let's say that now live music gives soldiers supernatural reflexes, strength, and speed. Like anime characters, but not overpowered.

The more complex and loud the song, the stronger the effect on your soldiers.

How do you protect the artists on the battlefield of a big war?

Note: For this magic to work your whole army must like the music of the artists or their adrenaline must be rushing hard. So I guess every army must have their own songs. I would prefer if the artists were young women to boost the army's morale.

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    $\begingroup$ You could probably do without the last sentence, just sayin... $\endgroup$
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ To be clear. "I would preffer if the artists are female,To boost army morale." Probably isn't helping you here... $\endgroup$
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ Some armies have had considerable success with this (see the Scottish regiments), albeit without the young, female artists, for the most part. (One never knows....) $\endgroup$
    – Catalyst
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ How do you protect them? By shredding metal so hard that they don't need protection. They can slay the enemies themselves! $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ So you're asking for cheerleaders? $\endgroup$
    – Zommuter
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 6:38

10 Answers 10


Undead performers.

The best way to keep your young female performers safe is to have them be impervious to harm. Zombies would be a straightforward way to do this. Zombie songstresses could march right along with the soldiers or perhaps in front of them, shimmying (or maybe swaying unsteadily) and rocking their pain-proof vocal cords at the top of their lungs. If you care for them right, your young female zombie performers should retain the luster of youth. Zombies do not age, although they might get worn out.

If it is tricky teaching the zombie girls the special songs you want, consider banshees.

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Clearly this banshee (from underworld tales.com) is as morale boosting as they come, and is rocking hard at the top of her lungs. A few of these and your troops have more oomph than they knew what to do with! Banshees are pretty much ghosts and so impervious to harm of the physical sort. Generally they are thought to only scream but the immense volume produced is a testament to their vocal powers, and it may be that they have not been given opportunity with other material.

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    $\begingroup$ Banshees are not malicious, just want to be heard! (lets say that ghosts exist only when people are aware of them, thus they haunt to be remembered and prolong existence, or something like that) It's not entirely their fault they never had singing lessons! I love this idea. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ This begs the question of why you can’t have undead soldiers as well. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe being undead uses up all their supernatural, so there is none left for the musically-provoked supernatural reflexes strength and speed. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Maybe the Undead cannot be commanded to do certain things, they just walk around aimlessly. But if a hundred soldiers around start marching a beat, they have a natural urge to ROCK!!! - So Zombies can only be used a scarecrows or jukeboxes in this world ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Falco
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 14:58

Music actually was indeed essential on the battle field for more than 2000 years, and it did massively increase the efficiency of the soldiers.

Once the basic ideas of fighting in formation, unit cohesion, and tactical battle planning were discovered and put into practice (by various peoples, and notably by the Greeks starting with the 8th century BCE), generals began searching for methods to command larger number of troops. Initially the problem was solved by using compact battle formation, with unit commanders instructed to follow the lead of the units near them; but when the Romans introduced the widely open checkered formations which extended the legions over a wide space, a better method of command was searched and found.


Cornicens on Trajan's column

[Cornicens -- Roman military trumpeteers -- on Trajan's Column. An officer with the cornicens who are ready to sound their trumpets to broadcast his orders.]

From the 3rd century BCE to the beginning of the 20th century CE, music was the principal method of conveying orders to a large number of soldiers fighting on large battle fields. Trumpets, and drums, and bagpipes, and bugles were used to play simple melodies which carried orders such as advance, pursuit, turn left, turn right, retreat, and so on. Armies which had musical signals had a qualitative advantage over armies which didn't. All soldiers and officers were trained and trained and trained until they understood the musical calls instinctively and reacted instantly to them.

Wikipedia has a list of bugle calls, the last remnants of a once great and varied catalog of musical signals.

Military musicians were protected just like any other soldier, relying on the support of their comrades. They were not expected to risk their lives in the first line, but they were expected to be in the immediate vicinity of the troops during the battle. And they were soldiers: risk is in the job description.

About using women as trumpeteers or drummers: sure, why not. In actual historical practice military musicians were quite often young boys, e.g., the heart-breaking and uplifting story of the 14-year-old Sardinian drummer who sacrificed his leg in the Italian wars of independence, in the somewhat famous novel Heart by Edmondo de Amicis; if young boys could do it, so could women. Whether this would make sense politically and culturally is another issue.

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    $\begingroup$ @apaul34208: They were protected just like any other soldier. Soldiers are protected by personal equipment and by the support of their comrades, relying on unit cohesion to ward off enemy attack. Military musicians were somewhat precious, and commanders generally tried to avoid putting them too close to the first line and out of direct enemy fire, but they were expected to be on the battlefield near the troops. There is no way to participate in a battle and not be exposed to risk. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ This answer could be upgraded with a video from the most iconic time period where musicians marched together with the troops into battle: youtube.com/watch?v=1zSowOS4Wyg $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ I vaguely recall that it was considered poor form to shoot at drummer boys, because they were young and unarmed. Even if that's not historically true, you could make it true in your world (especially if the musicians are women and your men are chivalrous). $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ @MissMonicaE I recall the same thing - before the advent of guerrilla warfare, officers, support staff, and other non-combat people were usually not targeted because it was improper. $\endgroup$
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ @can-ned_food Now I want to break out my Stratego board game again and play a few more rounds... $\endgroup$
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:41

If the main ranged weapon of the enemy as you said is longbowmen then the easiest way to protect the archers is using wooden screens. If your soldiers gain increased strength, stamina and reflexes they can move large wooden screens.

This would likely be augmented with shield(wall)s. Those can fill up the sides and other less protected areas. By leaving open the front and sides music can still reach your men while the arrows need to hit from above.

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    $\begingroup$ Fun fact: Longbow arrows can pass through even thin layers of steel. A wooden screen won't help much. $\endgroup$
    – JessLovely
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ Only at very close range with specialized arrows. These wooden siege screens are generally about about 15-20cm thick. Enough to slow a longbow arrow down so it doesn't fully penetrate. We're not talking wooden armor, we're talking wooden shields set up several meters from the musicians. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 23:10

Assuming your time frame is prior to large amounts of guns etc,.

Protect them as you would any unit requiring close quarters protection and will be a target such as artillery. The first defence is that they are not on the front line which if it collapses is going to be a major concern for the leaders personal safety and they won't be worrying too much about the musicians who will have to fend for themselves. Their other defence is that they are combat trained and armed and may be entrenched or behind some sort of shield or at least stakes.

But realistically if the enemy infantry reach them, they're probably effed (even if they're not young ladies).

Probably best to have them in front of the artillery units so if they need to retreat they can retreat to the artillery and join the defense there.

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    $\begingroup$ I like that second to last bit, even it it isn't PC :) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ Tag and comment implies 15th-16th century warfare. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 8:07

"Music", at least in popular depiction, was fairly common on early battlefields. Often simple music, think drums/pipes/horns, were used to coordinate formations and motivate troops.

Realistically musicians were protected by not being the front line. In formation the drummers, pipers, and what have you, would be in the rear. Probably with the honor guard and standard bearers. These instruments being loud by nature even without amplification would still carry over and be heard as needed.

Scottish pipe and drum is a fairly good example:

In modern times music is routinely used for recruitment.
See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyHx-dPz2RA
Note the "epic feel"

Beyond "organized militaries" music is very often used to inspire and motivate. A couple of personal favorites:


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    $\begingroup$ It's bit disturbing that half of your answer is a block of links, and only one paragraph is actually an answer. It put your answer in VLQ review queue. Consider expanding actual, non-link content. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 7:03
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    $\begingroup$ And actually: The links do not really provide much towards an answer and leaves the impression you tried to convey certain views rather than trying to help the OP. You could have provided links like this one where musket handling and firing is coordinated by drums: youtube.com/watch?v=Dsk65EF6IOo $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 10:28

There's the music was actually required on the battle field approach to this question, which would have you using historical techniques. Then there's some fantasy strategy stuff you could get into.

You could always do things like have defensive music - perhaps songs that protect the musicians from arrows and what not with a wall of doves. What I would do is us mobile defensive strategies to protect musicians. Basically, put you musicians in mixed ranks with pikemen and archers/crossbowmen. No formation will be able to approach this easily, and since the musicians dole out unreasonable stat increases like bards you can do some pretty stupid things that will all have the potential to mitigate any counter strategy an enemy could employ. The most obvious thing this allows you to do is make 250lb draw weight long bows for your archers out of steel. With music buffs your archers would be able to operate such a spring without getting tired. You could also run a catapult with less people and make bigger trebuchetes that operate faster. You'd probably be able to have musicians give people stat bonuses that would allow them to hit projectiles in mid air.

Another fantasy strategy solution would be to put them in gambison covered stripper cages with speaker outlets for the sound to escape from. This solutions sounds really dumb, but clothe armor is pretty hard to cut through and if the cage they're in is heavy enough they won't really be vulnerable to siege weapons. This also lets you employ a fun capture the objective type of strategy in wars. Gambison doesn't fail to most types of arrows, but it is vulnerable to certain types of blades and cutting methods. A man with the correct type of knife could cut the padded cloth off of a cage, but an arrow would have little to no chance of making it through the cloth. You could also cover the cage with chainmail instead if you wanted. Of course fire attacks are a different story. Fire would 100% counter battle musicians pretty much all of the time under almost any circumstance. Can't perform music if you're unconscious... or can you?


In the Stormlight Archives trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, one race of people communicates in battle by singing. They have different songs for pressing the attack, forming a defense, retreat, etc. They avoid the complications of having "weak links" in the communication by virtue of all the warriors singing while they fight.

This battle song gives the race a particular advantage in battle by allowing very rapid and accurate communication of battlefield orders with little chance of a break in the line of communication. It also has a strong psychological effect on the enemy troops, as the united battle chant if thousands or tens of thousands of enemy troops is quite intimidating.


Give up on complex. Go for loud.

Have every single soldier sing and play an 'instrument' if they have time.

Think a sports team's victory chant. 100k people in the crowd, all know the song and 'talented' enough to join in.

For added measure, everyone who isn't doing anything can bang bits of metal together (sword against shield).

If gunpowder era, rip off the 1812 overture and fire your cannons in time with music (and co-ordinated rifle/musket fire).

You could add dedicated musical instruments like horns in, but keep their part simple enough that if they get shot, the person next to them can wipe the blood off the horn and keep playing.


Logically, the safest place for them to be is right at the back of your army, behind everyone else. I don't know what kind of ranged weapons you have in your world, and how accurate they are, but ranged weapons notwithstanding, if the opposing army wants to get to your musicians, they'll have to go through literally your entire army. Alternately, have them riding on the back of dragons or something. They'll be harder to hit, have better defence, and also, dragons.

Since this is a fantasy setting, you'll then want to place some kind of enchantment on them so that their performance is as loud as possible, and carries as far as possible. This isn't just so that the whole of your army can hear them, but so the whole of the opposing army will hear them.

As @Asher briefly touched upon in his answer, armies don't just play music to psych themselves up, but as a form of psychological warfare to demoralize the other army. My personal favourite example of this was Operation Nifty Package, a Navy SEAL operation to capture Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. After Noriega sought refuge in a Vatican embassy, the SEALs drove him out by, among other things, blaring loud rock music outside the embassy for one week straight. It worked.

Now presumably, both armies will be trying to gain this psychological advantage. So what you'll probably end up with is a "loudness war", with both sides playing their magical music as loud as they can without deafening their own troops, not just to amplify the effect (as you mentioned) but to try and drown out the other side's magical music.


Usually the army soldiers become artist for themselves. When the army travels, they sing anthems and religious songs to develop a sense of unity and patriotism. So, its clear that they do not need special kind of protection.

As far as your 'cheerleader artist' are concerned it depend on the

  • type of war
  • strategic location
  • size of army

I don't think its hard to figure out the the safest place in a particular formation. Most probably it will be middle or somewhere at the back, depending upon the above factors.


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