I recall a short science fiction story about a revolution of musicians who play a sort of conical shaped harp. The ruler amputates their right arms to prevent them playing revolutionary songs, but they learn to play a new kind of one-handed trumpet instead and defeat the ruler. Does anyone know the title and author?

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    What elements of the story made it sci-fi or fantasy? Also, can you remember any more details: what language was it written in, was it part of a collection, where/when was it set?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 16:55
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questioner has yet to demonstrate that it is sci-fi or fantasy. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 18:55
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    @Wikis While the asker might not have remembered the SF aspects, several of us recognized the Lloyd Biggle story, and it is SF (the society is a non-human one, and trumpet was a technology introduced by aliens (humans, actually — aliens to that society)).
    – user56
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 19:40
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    @Gilles: indeed, it is on topic. But I think the onus is on the questioner to prove that. My close vote is therefore to stimulate that correction. (I think it is valid if the question remains unchanged. Do you agree?) Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 20:21
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    @Wikis I agree that a non-SF story would be on-topic, but we should assume good intention. I've edited the question to mention the fact that the trumpet was a technological invention, hopefully this will prevent it from being closed on a technicality without betraying the original question too much.
    – user56
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets by Lloyd Biggle Jr.

"Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny" runs the motto of the Interplanetery Relations Bureau, who's mission it is to bring democracy to all the worlds of the galaxy. So there secret agents work from within to bring about change. But on Kurr revolt is all but impossible. So Officer Forzon invokes the "Rule of One": one technological change per world. But making only the one change isn't as easy as it sounds.

One guess as to what that one-handed musical invention was...

A shorter novelette form was published in the April, 1961 edition of Analog Science Fact & Fiction, as The Still, Small Voice

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