Something is different about this place; snatches of half-heard melodies float enticingly through the air as you wander down the old paths. The tinkling sound of rushing water from some unseen source has a distinctly musical quality to it, more than can be explained by the mere flow of water over stone. Closing your eyes, you realize that this forest is as richly beautiful to the ears as some places are to the eyes – a tapestry of sound that weaves in and out of hearing, pulsing with a life of its own. No one knows how this place came to be; perhaps Selene, the blind goddess of song and melody, makes her home here beneath the woodchime trees. The wood certainly seems blessed with her presence.
The following are a mere sampling of the enchanting flora, fauna and locales that a lucky traveler might encounter within the Singing Wood. Traveler beware; there is danger here as well as beauty, and discordant sounds may attract unwanted attention.
Like normal humming birds, but with a peacock-like tail. These tiny beauties flit around the forest, attracted to anything unusual, especially outsiders. One alone will hum a charming ditty; two will harmonize and three or more will form an impromptu chorale. Like the finest coloratura sopranos, their soft, agile voices weave together in the upper registers, and are capable of extending melodies past the hearing range of humans.
Woodpecker-like birds that have no natural call. Instead, the males drum on old, hollow trees to attract prospective mates from far and wide. The more intricate the drum beat, the more attractive the male is to female drummer birds.
Hollow reeds that grow at the fringes of ponds and other bodies of calm water. When the wind passes over them, it will produce a gentle piping sound, much like a pan flute. Tend to grow in harmonic clusters.
Poking out from the rich undergrowth at intervals are large crystal formations. These will resonate with light and heat, softly “singing” as the sun passes over. If the traveler is lucky enough to discover one of the natural caves in this forest, he will often find it filled with these crystals in many sizes and colors. Travelers beware: sleeping in one of these caves at night is dangerous, as the cave will come alive with ringing tones in the morning when the sun warms the crystals at the cave mouth. The crystal tones are amplified many times as they bounce through the cave, resonating with other crystals and causing them to add their own voices. The music is breathtakingly beautiful but unsafe at close range for mortal ears. Eardrums will begin to resonate with the predominate tone, causing dizziness and possible short-term deafness. If the traveler remains for too long without special hearing protection, his eardrums may actually shatter, causing permanent hearing loss.
Appears to be an ordinary forest stream, except that it produces a distinct, tinkling melody that loops over several seconds. The melody heard will vary depending on which part of the stream you are near. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that every rock, pebble and stone in the stream bed is arranged just so. If a stone is removed and cast back into the water, the stream will sweep it along until it comes to rest in a perfect spot, subtly changing the tune thereafter.
Hardwood trees with an unusual growth pattern. Small, tubular branches are suspended from the main limbs with thin vines, clustered around the heavy seed pods. These seed pods grow in pairs on the same vine; the male pod is wider and flatter, and grows at the bottom of the vine in order to catch passing breezes. The female pod is denser and hard to crack. It must be struck against the wooden chime-branches many times before it cracks, releasing the seed. Once it does, the support vine is significantly weakened, allowing the male pod to fall shortly after. The male pod will dissolve naturally in the rain once released from the vine, no longer waterproofed by the oily sap that dripped down the vine while it was attached to the tree.
A flying insect that makes its home near ponds and still water, among the piping reeds. It's long, narrow body is divided into two chambers: an upper carapace that contains all of the insect's internal organs, and a long, narrow lower section that is hollowed out. The long section has several small holes in it along the bottom, similar to the finger-holes found in common wind instruments. This section is also open at the end to allow air to pass through. When flying, the insect will produce a faint fluting melody and will use its several specialized legs to stop up the holes, allowing it to pick out a tune. (inspired by a picture from here)
At night the wood will come alive with the musical chirping of cricketiddles. These finger-length insects have several long ridges that run from their head down their thorax of varying widths, and small tooth-like ridges on the underside of each wing (much like the teeth of a comb). At night, male cricketiddles will pull their wings across these ridges, producing a chirping sound with varying pitch, depending on the ridge that is being bowed.
Additional Ideas (2)
There are two varieties of Keyed Mushrooms. The most common is a patch of typically five or six individual mushrooms of varying height and girth. The patch contains a variety of bright fungi with solid, basic colors such as pure red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and white. Each one produces a slightly different sound, each a cross between a drum-beat and the hit of a mallet on a xylophone key. There is an obvious scale to them, like a child's toy, and they can be used to produce simple melodies.
It is said that there is magic in the music, however. And if you play a certain pattern of notes individual to the mushroom patch, you will be rewarded with a shiny little gem as a thanks from this variety of Keyed Mushrooms. You can learn the song by simply, or not so simply, getting in touch with nature. This was be simple for a Druidic spell caster or a talented musician, but prove quite difficult for the average street-bred people.
The second variety of Keyed Mushrooms is only one mushroom. It is the Grand Mushroom of The Woods, and it large enough for several men to stand upon it without damaging it. It has a rainbow's hue of swirling, flamboyantly-colored dots that will produce sound when stepped upon. This mushroom is a gate-way to the Realms of the Fey, but to open it, you will need a gem from six other, smaller, Keyed Mushroom patches, one of each color, and then to play the correct tune. An incorrect tune, or miss-step will result in a loud trombone-like blast and a puff of narcoleptic gas, rendering everyone in the area asleep. When you awaken, the mushroom will be gone. As that is the nature of music, it can evolve and change through the experimentation of sour notes.
Even the lowliest of plant life comes alive with music in this forest of sounds. We have all held a piece of grass length-wise between out thumbs as a child, and blown across its surface to make a shrill whistle. It is much easier with the Whistle Grass of this forest. Simply plucking a strand of grass from the soft earth will cause a slight high-pitched sound, like that of a alarm whistle.
A pulp, made of this grass, finely mashed, and mixed with the waters of a Tinkling Stream, can be used to make an impromptu alarm system. As, once prepared and spread of a surface, friction of the mush slipping, from being stepped or or similar, will cause a loud ear-piercing sonic alarm. Guaranteed to wake up everyone nearby.