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Demystifying the Song


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Demystifying the Song


The Song is one of the favourite topics for discussion amongst the fans, with theories ranging from how Perrin will find it, how the Aiel who went to the Tuatha’an will find it, how Rand will use it to sing close the bore, and half a hundred other things as well. But whilst people love to think about the finding and use of the Song, very rarely do people actually consider the Song itself.


What is the Song?


Elyas describes the Song thus...


They're looking for a song. That's what the Mahdi seeks. They say they lost it during the Breaking of the World, and if they can find it again, the paradise of the Age of Legends will return.


[tEotW; 25, The Traveling People]


So a Song which will bring peace and return the world to the paradise it knew in the Age of Legends. Unfortunately for the Tuatha’an this Song does not, and never has existed. We see the origins of this belief in the Shadow Rising, when the Tuatha’an first broke away from the Aiel.


Sulwin stepped back, then held his ground with his companions. “No, Adan. We are supposed to find a place of safety, and some of us mean to do that. My greatfather used to tell me stories he heard as a boy, stories of when we lived in safety and people came to hear us sing. We mean to find a place where we can be safe, and sing again.”


“Sing?” Adan scoffed. “I have heard those old stories, too, that Aiel singing was a wondrous thing, but you know those old songs no more than I do. The songs are gone, and the old days are gone. We will not give up our duty to the Aes Sedai to chase after what is lost forever.”


“Some of us will, Adan.” The others behind Sulwin nodded. “We mean to find that safe place. And the songs, too. We will!”


[tSR; 26, The Dedicated]


In this it is made clear that the Song that what the Tinkers seek is not a magical song, but rather an expression of the desire of their Aiel forbearers to find a safe place and regain the culture they lost. It a symbol, not a real thing.


But What About the Seed Singing?


Ok, there is no Song which will magically bring back the Age of Legends, but it cannot be denied that the Aiel did do some pretty magical stuff with their singing. And whilst we know that the Tuatha'an belief that finding the song will bring back the Age of Legends is the result of a myth, we also know that there can be truth in myths. The Song--or rather, the Singing is a powerful thing, and something that RJ has layered into the story deeply between the Aiel not singing and the Tuatha'an's desire to regain that.


And lets not forget the current food crisis in the Westlands--people are dying in the thousands very soon due to the taint the Dark One (and Rand) has caused in food. It may well be that the 'Song', or rather the Singing will play its part in this. It is also noted that the Dai’shain Aiel’s singing could be used to enhance channeling, so the old theories about it being used to seal the bore and other such achievements might yet be true. But before you rush off down that path pause for a moment and consider the actual nature of the Seed Singing.


What is the Singing?


We know from The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time that the Singing is a Talent that draws upon and focus’ the One Power through a vocalized song.


Farmland produced optimum yield through use of the One Power. In a method called "seed singing," Ogier (a separate race of beings gifted with the ability to aid and enhance growing things), Nym, and Da'shain Aiel worked as a team, focusing the One Power to insure perfect growth for every field they "sang."


[The Guide; 3, The Age of Legends]


It’s main use is as was stated above, in crop production, but from the Guide we also know that it could also be used to enhance channeling.


Sources are not clear concerning whether or not Da'shain Aiel could channel, though they do agree that the Aiel could often enhance channeling.


[The Guide; 3, The Age of Legends]


Whilst it seems the Aiel were primarily the only humans to use the Singing in the Seed Songs, there is some evidence that other people also had the Talent. Consider,


"Lord of the Morning," he said, "I have come for you."


The laughter cut off as if it had never been, and Lews Therin turned, seeming unsurprised. "Ah, a guest. Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part. Ilyena, my love, we have a guest. Ilyena, where are you?"


[tEotW; Prologue, Dragonmount]


Of course Lews Therin was delusional at this stage, and so may have thought he was talking to an Aiel—he may even have just been talking gibberish—but it doesn’t sound that way. All who have the Voice are welcome to take part in the Singing—it implies that the Voice does crop up in other people if for the simple fact that an Aiel would already know he was welcome to the Singing.


The Singing Returns; a Bundle of Problems


Ok, so the Singing could be very beneficial in all the ways listed above, but there are problems. For starters the Singing is not using magical words to cause effect, it is the vocal expression of a talent. The words do not matter--indeed they dont even seem to be words in the Song, it is the power behind them which causes the effect.


Discovering it will not be as simple as having one of the Tuatha’an walk the Glass Columns, hear the words, and repeat it. They will need the Talent of the Voice, and even then it might take training with someone else with the Talent—this is the One Power we are talking about. It kills those that don’t know how to use it properly, and that’s presuming the Talent even remains in the gene pool—which, given the decline in Talents since the Age of Legends, may well be a pretty big presumption.


Secondly, say someone does rediscover the Talent, will it be effective? The Ogier never lost the Treesinging, yet the Talent declined so much that they could never hope to perform the roles they did in the Age of Legends. And the Nym are extinct—without them how effective will the modern Singers be?




The Song does not and never did exist, except as a symbol for the Tuatha’an. The Singing might be recovered but it may not be as simple as everyone thinks it will be, nor as effective. Even if it is I rather doubt the Tuatha’an will be impressed—indeed, they might be rather devastated. They’ve spent three thousand years chasing something that isn’t real. The revelation of the Singing may well destroy their hope for the Song, and through that, destroy them.


Some suggest, of course, that it might be the first step in the right direction. Yes, the Singing will not magically bring back the Age of Legends, but it will start a more natural reversion to AOL society. The problem with this, to my mind, is the same as the problem in suggesting Manetheren will come again. It goes against the themes RJ developed--the Wheel turns forward, not backwards, and the only way the Age of Legends will come again is when the Wheel turns around to the Second Age once more.

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  • 1 year later...

THOM!!! He has been described as being able to make the listener, see the battles that he sings about. And his nephew was genteled so the ability could be there for Thom. He is very passionate about singing in high chant versus common voice. All the main characters have rediscovered lost abilities or found new.

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the voice talent has always reminded me very strongly of the first chronicle of narnia, in The Magician's Nephew, when Aslan sings the barren world into existence. It also makes me think of in the Bible God "spoke" the world into existence. the power of the voice and music has always been tied to a much more ancient and powerful force than what modern times can create. do you think there is any correlation between the similarities?

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  • 3 months later...

Aviendha has a major part to play in the last book, she has just become a wise one and had a mystical vision in the waste, I think she will relink the traveling people and the aiel... I also believe with her ability to read items dealing with the power, which has been a down played subject thus far, she may discover the song at rhudien or somthing like that and it will likely tie into the avendasora tree somehow. I know this is long explanation for a short idea, but I had to get it out there

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