Although first seen south of the Evesque Valley at a Day of Champions still in living memory, Freege Horns enjoy a tradition quite ancient in the Evesque Valley and regions further north. Although no exact origin of the instrument is known, it is assumed that more primitive forms have existed as far back as people have lived in these places.
Freege horns are played by a troupe of minstrels, rather than a single player, due to the size and complexity of the instrument.
One set of Freege horns consists of anywhere from 5 horns on up, the most elaborate sets consisting of upwards of 40 horns. A few travelling minstrels play a single Freege horn, but the effect is so diminished that very few people consider this a true rendition of the music.
Typically (on a smaller set of horns) one player will sit on the platform and operate the keys of the horns. This may be done directly, or via an elaborate system of pulleys, levers, and ropes. Beneath the platform, two or more players will operate the bellows that force the air through the horns. These players below the platform are not concealed in any way, and are considered a full part of the performing troupe. The reasons for this will be made evident in a moment. In fact, in some of the most modern Freege horn ensembles, the bellows-men may be on the main platform with the key-man. Purists consider this distracting, and to be done purely for political motives.
At the end of a performance, it is traditional that one of the bellows-men will say to the other, "We played mighty fine tonight, so we did!" The other will reply "Aye, so we did!" And the keys-man will reply "Aye, even so, we surely did."
The roots of this little ritual go back to a story that is told about a performance many generations ago. In those days, the bellows-men were completely concealed under the platform, or behind the stage. At the end of a particularly spectacular performance, the bellows-man approached the keys-man (apparently it was a very small set of horns) and said "We played mighty fine tonight, so we did!" To this, the keys-man indignantly replied "We!? What is this 'we' stuff. I played mighty fine, so I did, so I did!"
The following night, when the keys-man sat down on stage and began his performance, he was greeted by complete silence. However he worked his contraption, there was only silence. After a few minutes of this, he notices his bellows-man sitting in the front row of the auditorium, smiling broadly at him. Upon catching his eye, the bellows-man mouthed "We played mighty fine last night, so we did!" The keys-man, duely chastised, responded, "Aye, even so, we surely did." The bellows-man returned to his post, and the concert commenced. Since that time, this little ritual is repeated at the end of each concert, that the audience might understand that it was a team effort.
The more cynical of the great Freege horn virtuosoes claim that this story is perpetuated primarily to keep the wages of the bellows-men on a par with that of the __real__ musicians. Very few of them, however, are willing to say this publically.
Due to the enormous size of a Freege horn set, travelling musicians typically travel by DermPachyges which are chartered for their benefit.