I say this about so many of them, but the entry on Industraza is one of my favorites. While the inspiration for this entry can be squarely laid at the feet of the TikTok Sea Shanty trend, which was absolutely everywhere when I wrote this, I like to think that the entry really developed into its own unique thing.
I’m always a sucker for those little bits of culture that end up knitting lots of other aspects of the setting together, and industraza is one of those. It’s gutter music, sure, but what does that say about the societies and the people who either reject or embrace it? It becomes a useful lens through which we can examine the whole of the Speaking Lands.
So let’s take a look!
Built out of simple rhythms and persistent refrains, industraza are songs that are easy to learn, quick to spread, and hard to forget. This tradition of work song is one of the cornerstones of the fledgling human culture.
The songs are designed to be sung or hummed along with repetititve labor—harvesting fields, scrubbing floors, and the like—to help ease an often strenuous workday. Humans have shared the melodies and refrains among each other for generations, but only in the past century have the songs found audiences outside humanity. First among street performers and then in taverns, industraza became a cultural sensation that spread from Dion to Caer Larionad.
One of the most popular industraza, Peshak Rides On, retells the legend of Peshak the Rider as an endless series of labors and tasks that they must perform for an endless series of taskmasters, including kings, magistrates, and even an elder dragon. Since the song keyed into such a popular folk hero, it spread widely and laid the foundation for other industraza to follow in its wake.
The rise of the industraza is in many ways also the rise of humanity as a people. In particular, the many peoples of the sylvan diaspora recognized in the industraza the same themes of powerlessness, exploitation, and alienation that they knew from their own histories. That recognition powered much of the broad cultural shift that began to consider humans, not as misbegotten mongrels, but as a novel and distinct people.
Not all audiences have embraced the industraza, of course. The music is almost unknown in humanless Kharzan, which is not surprising given the disdain in which most dwarven travellers hold the outside world. Throughout Verdas, industraza is known as “gutter music.” While it still has its adherents and performers, the genre has not attained the same respectability in the rain forests as it has in the north. Lorathan high society has strict rules for what is and is not pleasant music, which industraza utterly fail to live up to, but the music is eagerly shared throughout the region’s renardi and halfling communities.
While industraza are mostly created and performed by humans, the musical tradition has been adopted by many goblin performers. Also frequently on the outside of society and relegated to menial labor, goblins had an immediate identification in these songs—when they weren’t working the same fields as humans. Replication and emulation followed shortly thereafter. While many aficionados are quick to disdain industraza produced outside of humanity, goblin industraza get a notable exception. Whether this becomes folded into the tradition or spins off into a distinct but related style remains to be seen.
This week’s slate was easy to pick out, as there’s only four references in the Industraza entry that we haven’t looked in on already. Which shall it be, folks?