Musical instrument

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Musical instruments are tools that can be applied to produce music, causing some sort of effect. Instruments in NetHack fall into two categories: tonal instruments, which can play tunes (including the passtune), and atonal instruments, which cannot.

Some instruments are magical—they have effects beyond what their ordinary equivalent would yield. When they are uncharged, they behave identically to that equivalent. Every non-magical musical instrument except the bugle has at least one magical counterpart. Elven Priests and Wizards start with a non-magical musical instrument.

If you are stunned, confused, or hallucinating, you cannot play tunes with any instrument; you will always improvise when playing a tonal instrument.[1] Also, if you are stunned or confused, magical instruments (except the Bell of Opening[2]) behave like their non-magical counterparts and do not consume charges when used.[3]

Instrument Type Non-magical equivalent
tooled horn Tonal (non-magical)
wooden flute Tonal (non-magical)
wooden harp Tonal (non-magical)
bugle Tonal (non-magical)
frost horn Tonal tooled horn
fire horn Tonal tooled horn
magic flute Tonal wooden flute
magic harp Tonal wooden harp
bell Atonal (non-magical)
leather drum Atonal (non-magical)
Bell of Opening Atonal bell
drum of earthquake Atonal leather drum

A horn of plenty is not an instrument at all, even though its unidentified appearance is that of a horn.


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It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

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