Singers predate humanity on Roshar. Around the time of the Recreance, many of the singers had each their Connection and Identity stolen; pieces of their souls ripped away. This made those singers docile and subservient, which humans called parshmen and used as slaves for millennia later. With the advent of the Everstorm, these singers were healed and restored.
The singers have four distinct genders, two that are recognised as similar to human male and female, and two neutered variants malen and femalen. The majority of the forms are populated by the neutered genders, and their members are often asexual.
There exists a group of singers identifying as a fifth, nonbinary gender.
Singers, like many Rosharan fauna, have gemhearts. Theirs are clouded white, and are fused to their sternum. Like other animals with gemhearts, singers also bond with spren, with that bonded spren residing in the singer's gemheart.
By staying out in a highstorm (or the Everstorm) with a spren, singers are capable of bonding with said spren, which has the effect of changing their forms, which alters their physical appearance and mental capabilities. When a singer changes forms, the spren used for the previous form is released. Singers can maintain their form indefinitely, without needing to resupply with a highstorm or Stormlight.
The listeners recounted many common forms in the Song of Listing, of which they only had access to only a small subset. They also have songs which sang of dangerous forms of power in the Song of Secrets and the Song of Winds.
There is also slaveform, which is the lack of any form, into which most singers were locked for centuries, until the Everstorm arrived and the True Desolation began.
These forms are mentioned in the listener Song of Listing. After the Recreance, and before the True Desolation, when the only singers who could think were the listeners, the listeners discovered only five forms: dullform, mateform, warform, workform, and nimbleform. When the Everstorm arrived and 'healed' singers who didn't hold these forms, singers who did hold these forms - and other common forms the listeners could not reproduce, such as artform and scholarform - had a "dozen" options.
|“|| Dullform dread, with the mind most lost.|
The lowest, and one not bright.
To find this form, one needs banish cost.
It finds you and brings you to blight.
–final stanza of the Song of Listing
Dullform is an older form which was rarely used after the discovery of the newer forms. Those in dullform are not very intelligent.
|“|| Mateform meek, for love to share,|
Given to life, it brings us joy.
To find this form, one must care.
True empathy, one must employ.
–5th stanza of the Song of Listing
Mateform is used for reproductive purposes. A few listeners maintain mating form constantly, although most enter it only briefly in order to reproduce with a partner; if these partners later entered warform they became a warpair. It is a distracting form which makes productive work difficult. Nothing is stopping other forms from reproducing, the mateform is merely a speciality.
|“|| Warform is worn for battle and reign,|
Claimed by the gods, given to kill.
Unknown, unseen, but vital to gain.
It comes to those with the will.
–15th stanza of the Song of Listing
Warform gives listeners an armor-like carapace; it also seems to give them advanced physical capabilities, although it severely hampers artistic ability and is not equipped to handle abstractions. Most Parshendi that interact with the Alethi are in warform. Out of all the forms known to the listeners, warform requires the most food, but is also the most durable.
|“|| Workform worn for strength and care.|
Whispering spren breathe at your ear.
Seek first this form, its mysteries to bear.
Found here is freedom from fear.
–19th stanza of the Song of Listing
Workform also endows significant physical strength, although without the armor of warform; those in workform also have thinner fingers. While in workform, the Parshendi find it difficult to commit violence and do not like confrontation.
|“|| Nimbleform has a delicate touch.|
Gave the gods this form to many,
Tho' once defied, by the gods they were crushed.
This form craves precision and plenty.
–27th stanza of the Song of Listing
Nimbleform was a form used by the listener scholars because they did not know the correct spren with which to bond for scholarform. It does not impede the mind and the fingers are delicate enough for recording their findings. It grows long hair without any carapace to block it and yields delicate swirling patterns in their skin, along with a thinner facial structure.
|“|| Mediationform made for peace, it's said.|
Form of teaching and consolation.
When used by the gods, it became instead
Form of lies and desolation.
–33rd stanza of the Song of Listing
|“|| Scholarform shown for patience and thought.|
Beware its ambitions innate.
Though study and diligence bring the reward,
Loss of innocence may be one's fate.
–69th stanza of the Song of Listing
Scholarform produces " ... long hairstrands and angular features."
|“|| Artform applied for beauty and hue.|
One yearns for the songs it creates.
Most misunderstood by the artist it's true,
Come the spren to foundation's fates.
–90th stanza of the Song of Listing
|“|| Artform for colors beyond our ken;|
For its grand songs we yearn.
We must attract creationspren;
These songs suffice 'til we learn.
Forms of PowerEdit
Many singer forms are considered by the listeners to be forms of power. For a singer to gain one of these forms, they must bond with a Voidspren. Singers wearing a form of power are referred to Regals in the context of Odium's army. Forms of power are intoxicating to those first come into one, and give access to new Rhythms, but drown old, common rhythms.
Slaveform, the form with no spren, no soul, and no song. (...) It wasn't really a form at all, however, but the lack of any form.
There is also 'slaveform,' which is not a true form, but the lack of a bond with a spren or lack of a form. What mankind called for millennia 'parshmen' are actually singers in slaveform. Slaveform did not exist until after the False Desolation.
Physically, slaveform singers are strong enough to perform physical labor. Their skin has either a marbled pattern of black and red or white and red, although the white and red is more common in Alethkar. Slaveform looks similar enough to dullform that humans could confuse the two.
They care about and are protective of their dead, usually objecting to anyone other than one of themselves tending to them. This care for the dead presumably extended to corpses of other singers as well. They also mate and form nuclear families if humans don't disrupt them. 
Slaveform singers lived among humans (notably in Alethkar, but also in Jah Keved and Kharbranth) and generally function as servants. Barely of intelligence, it is said that these people, if left in the woods, would stand around amiably until someone came along to tell them what to do. Generally, a slaveform would take orders without any objection. Each could speak but rarely did so.
Humans bred singers who demonstrated they could successfully birth healthy children, splitting up families to do so. Slaveform is described by Sah, a singer who had previously been trapped in the form, as "living in a fog ... knowing deep in your soul that something is profoundly wrong ... [but] not being able to say a single word to stop it."
The Everstorm healed all slaveform singers by restoring Connection and Identity, so this form no longer exists during the True Desolation.
Singers speak to Rhythms. These Rhythms are underlying tunes that seem to exist independently from their actual use. Also, Rhythms are "playing" constantly. For example, Rhythms can be used to measure time. Rhythms represent a certain state of mind, the feelings of the individual using it. When not paying attention, Parshendi will attune to the Rhythm that corresponds to their mood, but they can attune to another Rhythm in order to fit with their message. Dullforms and slaveforms don't use Rhythms. The Rhythms connect the singers. The different Songs are sung to different Rhythms. The Rhythms of Power sound and feel different to the more well known Rhythms which have similar uses.
List of RhythmsEdit
- Rhythm of Abashment
- Rhythm of Agony
- Rhythm of Amusement
- Rhythm of Annoyance
- Rhythm of Anticipation
- Rhythm of Anxiety
- Rhythm of Awe
- Rhythm of Appreciation
- Rhythm of Betrayal
- Rhythm of Conceit
- Rhythm of Confidence
- Rhythm of Consideration
- Rhythm of Consolation
- Rhythm of Craving
- Rhythm of Curiosity
- Rhythm of Derision
- Rhythm of Destruction
- Rhythm of Excitement
- Rhythm of Fury
- Rhythm of Irritation
- Rhythm of Joy
- Rhythm of Longing
- Rhythm of the Lost
- Rhythm of Mourning
- Rhythm of Peace
- Rhythm of Pleading
- Rhythm of Praise
- Rhythm of Remembrance
- Rhythm of Reprimand
- Rhythm of Resolve
- Rhythm of Ridicule
- Rhythm of Satisfaction
- Rhythm of Skepticism
- Rhythm of Spite
- Rhythm of Subservience
- Rhythm of Supplication
- Rhythm of Tension
- Rhythm of the Terrors
- Rhythm of Victory
- Rhythm of Winds
- Rhythm of Withdrawal
Singers predate humanity on Roshar but both races existed prior to the Shattering. After the Expulsion, where mankind destroyed the Tranquiline Halls, ancient singers were ordered by gods - perhaps Honor and Cultivation - to help the human refugees to Roshar. These ancient singers were the Dawnsingers.
Humans used powers the singers were forbidden to touch, powers involving spren and Surges. However, humans also brought Odium with them, and the singers called these ancient humans the Voidbringers. Humans were granted the lands of Shinovar, but they eventually expanded outward, and fought the singers. This original conflict was the First Desolation, with humans on the side of Odium.
According to the listener Song of Histories, after the singers felt spren betrayed them, the listeners turned to other gods (this song, however, could be warped to history). The exact timeline is not clear, but at some stage, there were souls of ancient singers, valiant soldiers at that time, that had been granted great power from Odium to fight against humans. The power from Odium made them into Cognitive Shadows and allowed these ancient singers to be reborn in singer bodies, creating the Fused. The Fused came to rule the singers. The Fused ultimately despise humanity and want them wiped off Roshar, even if it requires the destruction of Roshar.
To stop the Fused from being reborn, Honor chose ten humans to be the Heralds, and the Heralds imprisoned the Fused on Braize. The Fused tortured the Heralds until one Herald relented, which allowed the Fused to return to Roshar. When a Herald gave in, that started a Desolation. The Desolations continued for an unknown amount of time, nearly destroying humanity many times. Eventually, at Aharietiam - the Last Desolation - every Herald, except Taln, abandoned their Oathpact and kept the Fused at bay for the next four and a half millennia.
The singers, no longer the dominant species on Roshar, continued to fight humanity and the Knights Radiant. Around two thousand years after the Last Desolation, near the Recreance, there was the False Desolation. The Unmade, Ba-Ado-Mishram, Connected with the singers and provided them forms of power and Voidlight, as Odium once did in the Desolations. The Knights Radiant sought to stop this threat by imprisoning Ba-Ado-Mishram. They succeeded but in doing so, stole part of singers souls, ripping out their Connection and Identity. These singers no longer had a form and were termed 'slaveforms'.
Some singers who threw off the Fused and freed themselves (i.e., the listeners) were spared from this event, perhaps not Connecting with Ba-Ado-Mishram. The listeners became the only singers with their minds intact for millennia. They eventually formed the Parshendi nation around Narak before meeting with the Alethi and starting the War of Reckoning. The rest of the singers, however, were all essentially mindless, which the humans used as slave labor.
Later, the listeners, manipulated by Voidspren, entered stormform, one of the forms of power. In doing so, the listeners summoned a great storm at the Battle of Narak. The Everstorm, full of Odium's power, passed through the world and restored the slaveform singers Connection and Identity, thereby healing them.
These healed singers exemplified traits of the culture in which they had lived all their lives. The Azish singers submitted a complaint to the government, while Thaylen singers stole ships and sailed away. These singers can remember their lives before they were healed. Sah, a singer whom both Kaladin and Moash met, remembers his wife taken from him and his anger at the event. These singers, though conscripted into Odium's forces, are generally reluctant to fight, though they hate their enslavement.
- Singers were not made by Honor, Cultivation, or Odium, but were created as part of Roshar's ecosystem.
- The singer gods are similar to the Heralds.
- The ten spren involved with the Knights Radiant don't accept bonds with singers because of some events in the past.
- Slaveform given Breath may become more cognizant.
- Hemalurgy can be used to replicate the transformation of the Forms.
- Soothers can affect singer Rhythms and may dampen Odium's influence.
- If a singer was able to access bronze Allomancy, they would find the pulses heard by a Seeker to be "somewhat familiar but a little odd".
- Singers can receive a boon/curse from the Nightwatcher.
- ↑ Oathbringer, 54. An Ancient Singer's Name
- ↑ Oathbringer, 106. Law Is Light
- ↑ Oathbringer, 77. Stormshelter
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Way of Kings, 3. City of Bells
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Oathbringer, 111. Eila Stele
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Oathbringer, 81. Ithi And Her Sister
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Oathbringer, 17. Trapped In Shadows
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 The Way of Kings, 72. Veristitalian
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Oathbringer, Inter6.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Oathbringer, Inter7.
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 17. A Pattern
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 14. Ironstance
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 13. The Day's Masterpiece
- ↑ 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 Words of Radiance, Inter4.
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 15. A Hand With The Tower
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 16. Swordmaster
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 21. Ashes
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 18. Bruises
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 20. The Coldness Of Clarity
- ↑ Words of Radiance, 29. Rule Of Blood
- ↑ Oathbringer, Inter3.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 22.7 22.8 22.9 Words of Radiance, Inter1.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 The Way of Kings, 55. An Emerald Broam
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 The Way of Kings, Prologue - To Kill
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 26. Stillness
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 28. Decision
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 36. The Lesson
- ↑ The Way of Kings, 7. Anything Reasonable
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 29.2 Oathbringer, Inter12.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 Oathbringer, 120. The Spear That Would Not Break
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Words of Radiance, Inter13.
- ↑ Words of Radiance, Inter8.
- ↑ 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 33.7 33.8 33.9 Words of Radiance, Inter11.
- ↑ Oathbringer, 55. Alone Together
- ↑ Oathbringer, Prologue - To Weep
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 36.2 Oathbringer, 38. Broken People
- ↑ Oathbringer, 56. Always With You
- ↑ Oathbringer, 80. Oblivious
- ↑ Parshendi singing