Ive recently been looking into bard as a class choice and am confused on a bit about bardic music. It says

"Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability. Even while using bardic music that doesn’t require concentration, a bard cannot cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word. Just as for casting a spell with a verbal component, a deaf bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use bardic music. If he fails, the attempt still counts against his daily limit.

This makes no mention of how using a weapon and playing an instrument interact. and i am curious Can a bard attack with a weapon while he play's bardic music? a Magic item found in the Magic Item Compendium called crystal Echoblade prompted this question. it does extra damage during your bardic music performances which inevitably means one must attack.

  • \$\begingroup\$ forgive the poor formating. im typing with an onscreen keyboard and my mouse hand is starting to hurt. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novian
    Aug 20, 2014 at 5:43

1 Answer 1


That depends on wether or not the specific Use of Bardic Music requires concentration as you stated.

Inspire Courage (Su)

A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 8th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (+2 at 8th, +3 at 14th, and +4 at 20th). Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability.

There is no mention of the need for concentration here, so by raw there is no limitation on using inspire courage while attacking, apart fromt the round you start the music (requiring a standard action) and assuming you have the hands free to fight or have other means of attacking not depending on the limbs you make the music with. I tend to use Perform(Singing) for that reason :).
I am assuming you are asking after Inspire courage, though the same reasoning can be applied for any use of bardic music, which in fact would include the snowflake wardance (a "Song" that involves fighting with a one-handed slashing weapon).
I should add that even songs that require concentration don't prevent you from attacking, they just use up your standard action, which requires you to either have a means of attacking without a standard action or getting additional ones, such as using a belt of battle.
As Tridus mentions there is the third option of bypassing the standard action for the concentration. For example by using the swift concentration skill trick.

So in short the answer is:
It depends on wether or not the Song requires concentration, which has to be specifically mentioned in the desciption of the song.

  • \$\begingroup\$ i see. it was simpler than i made it. but with D&D 3.5 logic should never be trusted. but this unfortunately means my bard is sadly burdened with his Mandolin. which logically requires two hands. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novian
    Aug 20, 2014 at 5:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: If you choose singing, there's a risk of your group insisting you give them a sample. Playing the pipe organ is far safer in that respect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Aug 20, 2014 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ yeah, but that risk diminished greatly for me after I did ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy
    Aug 20, 2014 at 6:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ if only i had the skill points to afford a second perform skill. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novian
    Aug 20, 2014 at 6:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The skill trick Swift Concentration lets you make a concentration check as a swift action to maintain an effect, freeing up your standard action. Requires concentration 12 ranks to take, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tridus
    Aug 20, 2014 at 10:08

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