A black and white drawing of a broken lute, taken from the 3e Dungeons and Dragons supplements Song and Silence, with the words Bardic Music in typeface next to it.

One of the most common recommendations for spicing up your tabletop sessions is a good soundtrack. Most is mood music, atmospheric instrumentals, but lyrics are also a perfectly viable option, especially if you’re looking to include a performance in a tavern or at a festival. Or if you’re playing a bard!

You can use just about any musician to represent that in-world music. For Dungeons and Dragons, folk music fits the atmosphere the best, but the lyrical topics can sometimes be hard to match. Bardic music would traditionally be storytelling songs, with epics and riddles rather than modern love songs which express a concept or dance around the topic rather than straight out telling a story. Luckily, there are still plenty of artists there that are perfect to use for any bard, performer, or skald in your campaign.

 

Local Musicians

Of course, its always best to support your local arts. You don’t have to be a millionaire and contribute to the local opera to do that – just head down to your local farmers market or craft show. There are plenty of acoustic musicians there, and they often sell CDs.

For the fantasy, or medieval feel to the music, try paying attention to the acts at your Renaissance Fair. They’re almost guaranteed to fit into a Middle Ages setting! If your local Ren Fair isn’t happening for a while, you can always check their website to see if they’ve listed their acts. Here’s the list of entertainers at our local fair to get your started: AZ Renaissance Festival Entertainers

 

A photo of Don Juan and Miguel, comedy performers at the Arizona Renaissance Fair, dressed in Spanish Renaissance clothing, smiling at the camera and holding swords.

 

If you don’t have time to go searching, more established artists are a good place to start. The following artists can be found on most major streaming platforms (like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon), but they also have plenty of music on YouTube, or even for free (or paid, if you’d like to support them) directly from their websites!

 

SJ Tucker

The cover for SJ Tucker's album, Blessings. It features the title and artist in white space surrounding a photo of a woman in a white fantasy dress touching a guitar and drum, laying in the grass next to the image of a maze. Presumably, this is SJ Tucker.

SJ Tucker is a pagan-folk singer whose music relies heavily on fairy tales, gods, and myths. Several of her albums started out as soundtracks for fantasy novels, too. Her style is fairly whimsical, with a couple of sharp turns into the darker aspect of folklore, making her perfect for elven or fey bards, or any campaign that might have to do with them (like Wild Beyond the Witchlight!).

SJ Tucker’s Website

One of my favorites: Cheshire Kitten (We’re All Mad Here)

 

Heather Dale

The album cover for Heather Dale's album, Call the Names. It features the title and artist superimposed over a photo of a woman in medieval dress leaning against a stone wall, presumably Heather Dale herself

Heather Dale, like SJ Tucker, is also on the more whimsical end of fantasy musicians. While she feels a little more grounded than Tucker, they’ve collaborated a number of times, and blend excellently together.

Much of her repertoire is inspired by Arthurian legend, speaking of knights and ladies, and even telling some of those stories wholesale. But she does expand beyond them, frequently, with a beautiful, delicate sort of style.

Heather Dale’s Website

One of my favorites: The Joyful Knight

 

Damh the Bard

A photo of the album cover for Damh the Bard's Spirit of Albion. It features the name and artist layered over a photo of a man with long hair in a white shirt (clearly Damh the Bard himself) holding a guitar in the woods

If you’re looking for a masculine voice, or just a stronger sound, Damh the Bard is, as the name suggests, is very much a bardic performer who might appeal to you.

His music tends to have a much, fuller, louder sound than many of the artists listed here. He has plenty of story songs as well, along with more general songs about magic and Celtic mythology. There are also quite a few folk and traditional songs in there as well!

Damh the Bard’s Website

Here’s one of my favorites: Antlered Crown and Standing Stone

 

Heather Alexander/Alexander James Adams

An image of Heather Alexander's Musical Me album cover, with the title and name surrounding a photo of a woman, Heather, inside an ornate gold frame

While this wife (Heather Alexander) and husband (Alexander James Adams) pair don’t always release music in conjunction with each other, you can usually find their music for download in similar places. They’ve both got a more delicate sound than other, but with the added aspect of being excellent fiddlers! If you’re looking for something with strong instrumentals behind the lovely lyrics, they’re a perfect choice for your bard.

Both of their sounds are excellent, with plenty of releases and variety in theme, lyrics, and tone.

Heather Alexander/Alexander James Adams’ Website

One of my favorites from Heather Alexander: Faerie Queen

One of my favorites from Alexander James Adams: March of Cambreadth

 

Ken Theriot

An image of the cover of Outlaws and Renegades, and Album by Ken Theriot. The title is layered over an old drawing of Robin Hood, a man in medieval dress, drawing a bow in front of several tents

Another balladeer, Ken Theriot has relatively few albums, but great storytelling appeal. They’re well-written, but simple enough to be easily understood, and call on some traditional stories and tales for their inspiration. Plus, there’s a good bit of humor in there as well. There's less of the magical influence that sparks in the previous artists listed here, so Theriot is excellent for a low-magic or even historical campaign!

Ken Theriot’s Website

Here’s a couple of my favorites: William Tell and Lament of the Combat Archer

 

Unwoman

The cover of an Unwoman album. The word Unwoman is on the cover, with a woman in a feathered hairpeice superimposed over herself, looking at the camera

Not every campaign, I know, is full of fairies and magic. Sometimes you want something a little more serious and dourer in tone. While the previous artists have some songs that are suitable, Unwoman, who I first heard during the steampunk craze, is a good fit. As both a cellist and singer-songwriter, her music tends toward slower, minor tones, which sound incredible for a Curse of Strahd or Ravenloft campaign.

Unwoman’s Website

Here’s one of my favorites (a cover of the Firefly theme): Ballad of Serenity

 

Rasputina

A photo of the band Rasputina. There are 3 woman, two of whom have callos, wearing period clothing and looking at the camera

Here’s one for a full bardic troupe. As featured on the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer soundtrack, Rasputina!

These girls are also a fairly instrumental-heavy group, with heavy gothic themes. If you ever need a group to be playing in Ravenloft, you can’t find much better. Their songs are mostly minor, mostly creepy, and mostly amazing. They are a group, so they won’t work as well for a player as Unwoman would, but I listen to their music anytime I need Halloween inspiration, and they’ll be useful for a DM’s NPCs.

Rasputina’s Wiki Page

Here’s one of my favorites: Transylvanian Concubine

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite bard-style musician? We'd love to hear about them, and give them a listen ourselves!

Blog postD&dDm toolsGamingMusicTabletopTtrpg

Leave a comment

Featured products

Backpack of Holding
Backpack of Holding
Sale price$69.95
Sold out
Folding Wood Dice Tower - D20 Collective - Dice Tower - DND Tabletop RPG Dice - Accessories, Dice Towers, Gaming Accessories, Gaming Essentials, GM Tools, Player Tools
Folding Wood Dice Tower
Sale price$29.95
In stock