So I hear you’ve been talking to Jaskier from The Witcher and were curious about how to play music in FFXIV. While I can’t say that I’ve had the itch to play music in FFXIV, even though I’m a full-time composer, I do understand why so many players are interested in unlocking Performance Actions to play music for others.
I’ve seen a really good band play together relatively often on Odin, my home world, that plays pop hits together and is consistently swarmed by players. Any time my husband sees them he gets excited and messages me on Discord to let me know and though I do enjoy hanging out to listen every so often, it’s not uncommon for me to feel overstimulated when there is a performance happening each time I enter a major city, which is why I generally keep Performance audio off.
I was initially surprised to find out that not every player has access to the Performance Actions immediately as I discovered the ability early on, but when I discovered how a player unlocks Performance Actions it made sense to me why I had it as one of the first Jobs I tried was the Bard.
With that being said, there is a bit of a process players must complete to take part in Performances and while it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours, as soon as it is unlocked you are free to utilize all of the features as no more will need to be unlocked.
The following post will take you through a step-by-step process on how to unlock Performance Actions. I will also cover the most frequently asked questions about what options you have access to as well as some tips to make it simpler.
Note: If you have any questions about FFXIV that you want me to cover feel free to leave them in a comment below, you can also ask me while I am streaming on Twitch, YouTube or in our community discord.
FIRST YOU MUST BECOME A BARD
To begin your journey as Eorzea’s biggest pop sensation you must first unlock the Bard. The Bard is the specialized Job which begins as an Archer, a Physical Ranged DPS class and while I understand that many players do not like having any low-level jobs on their account, especially if they never plan on playing the job, unfortunately, this is the only way to unlock Performance Actions in the game.
I do have to say, it’s a bit shocking that Bard is the only Job that gets unique actions, especially because you don’t need to be on the Bard to activate Performance Actions after it is unlocked.
To begin unlocking the Archer players must accept the “Way of the Archer” quest, located in New Gridania at X:15, Y:12). “Way of the Archer” is provided by Athelyna and as a note, if players did not start as a class that begins in Gridania they will need to complete main story quests until about level 15 as this is when players begin to unlock the remainder of the starter cities.
Now, this isn’t the only quest you will have to do as all the starter Classes will need to reach level 30 and complete Class quests to become their specialist Job. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to power level to 30 in a few hours and I’ve covered the fastest ways to level in this post. Luckily for players who simply never want to touch the Archer, there are even ways to level without ever playing a Job.
Even if you are planning on playing the Bard, Class Quests until level 30 are not urgent to complete. They become much more significant beyond level 30 and I strongly recommend you complete all Class Quests as they unlock or at least check whether you are missing an attack or ability as Class Quests are typically the way these are unlocked.
For most Class Quests until level 30, you’re simply going to get subpar Gear. Archer does get 1 Ability, Repelling Shot, though as this is simply a niche utility ability used for escaping battle, it’s not very important and not used frequently if at all.
Dungeon Gear tends to be much better than the Gear from Class Quests and players can purchase Class Quest Gear from Vendors if they would like it later.
All Archer quests are provided by Luciane in New Gridania at X:15.4, Y:11.9 and they are unlocked in the following order:
At Level 1 players must complete “My First Bow”
At Level 5 players must complete “A Matter of Perspective”
At Level 10 players must complete “Training with Leih”
At Level 15 players must complete “Violators Will Be Shot”
At Level 20 players must complete “To Catch a Poacher”
At Level 25 players must complete “Homecoming”
At Level 30 players must complete “The One That Got Away”
If players are uncertain if they have completed a quest they can either check their Journal or if they have not altered the Default UI/HUD layout they can see unfinished Class Quests directly under the MSQ UI.
At level 30 players must also complete the quest “A Song of Bards and Bowmen” which is also given by Luciane at New Gridania (X:15.4, Y:11.9). This quest can only be unlocked if players have reached level 20 in the Main Story Quest and have completed the quest “Sylph-management”.
While “A Song of Bards and Bowmen” unlocks the Bard, securing players a Soulstone, players must then complete the quest “Plucking the Heartstrings” which ultimately unlocks Performance Actions.
“Plucking the Heartstrings” can be accepted in Old Gridania at X:10.5, Y:8.5. It can be easy to miss as it is not provided by the usual Archer/Bard quest giver and instead is given by Simpkin.
This is hardly even a quest as all a player needs to do is accept the quest to complete it.
Congratulations! You now have Performance Actions!
HOW TO ACCESS PERFORMANCE MODE
Once players have unlocked Performance Mode they will be able to access it in the Actions and Traits tab which by default is [P] on Mouse and Keyboard. Players can also access this menu from the character menu.
Although players will be able to see the Performance tab on all Battlecraft Jobs, the only Job that can activate this mode is the Bard. Unfortunately, this means your glamours will be limited as not all Jobs can wear every piece of Gear which can be quite frustrating when it comes to fashion. Luckily there is a good amount of All Classes Gear, making options a bit less limited.
Players can select the instrument they would like to play in the Performance tab simply by right-clicking it, though a player can also drag any instruments onto their Bard HUD to quickly access them
WHAT INSTRUMENTS CAN YOU PLAY IN FFXIV?
Players have a large array of instruments at their disposal when using Performance Actions and quite frankly they will be able to make full-sized orchestral bands if they want to.
While two players can be on the same instrument at once there is no actual need to overlap unless the goal is to create counter Melodies on the same instruments.
Instruments are released generally slowly, though the most recent addition was in Patch 5.55 and it is unknown whether more will be released moving forward. The following are the instruments currently available to players:
- Bass Drum
- Snare Drum
- Double Bass
- Electric Guitar
Due to the number of instruments available, players will be able to create music in many styles and genres and should not feel restricted to a singular instrument, though they will be unable to switch instruments midway through a group performance.
HOW DO YOU PLAY NOTES IN PERFORMANCE ACTIONS IN FFXIV (PERFORMANCE ACTION CONTROLS)
To begin, players can use their Mouse and Keyboard and/or their Controller to play music, it doesn’t matter if you are on a console or PC. By default the input device displayed will be the one associated with whatever option you have selected in your character configuration. Players can also have both input displays open at the same time and can switch between both without delay.
If the input method you prefer is not working properly, I suggest relaunching your game or unplugging and replugging your controller. I have to unplug and replug my controller anytime I restart my computer. For some reason, certain games will register my controller without unplugging and replugging, but nine times out of ten, FFXIV will not recognize my controller without doing this.
As for the Performance Controls, by default players on controllers will utilize the D-Pad and Face Buttons to play natural notes. Shoulder buttons can be used to raise or lower notes by a semi-tone and players can use the triggers to change what octave they are playing in.
Players on Mouse and Keyboard will be able to assign notes to any keys and can simply map their keyboard as they would a normal piano. Players can also configure modifiers for Octaves and Half-steps. By default, Octave shifts utilize Shift and Control similar to modifiers for your Hotbar keybinds, though it is not necessary to set up modifiers for semi-tones as you can simply set sharps/flats to a separate key.
At any point, players can reconfigure the buttons they want to utilize in the Performance Settings, though this cannot be done on the fly if you are in an ensemble.
HOW DO YOU USE A METRONOME IN PERFORMANCE ACTIONS
When players are in their Performance screen they can see a few settings at the bottom right of the screen. The second last button is a Metronome.
Here players can set up their BPM (120 being the default) and how many beats are in a bar. Audiences and other members of an ensemble will not be able to tell or hear if you have your metronome running, so don’t be concerned about this.
The Metronome will give you a visual representation of where you are in a beat both with a bar, similar to a traditional metronome, as well as a numerical representation being a 1:1 visualizer.
It is also here that a player can initiate a ready check for their Ensemble to begin playing. While a player can get away with not using a metronome when playing solo, it is strongly recommended that a player utilizes one and calibrates it properly while in an ensemble. I will cover more on why shortly.
HOW TO CREATE AN ENSEMBLE IN PERFORMANCE ACTIONS
If players are hoping to play as a band it is strongly recommended that they form an in-game ensemble. Being in an ensemble will ensure that players are synced up together and have cohesive options among themselves. Not only that but being in a set-up ensemble will ensure that there is no lag between party members as sometimes in-game latency will mess with a group’s performance if not in a prebuilt ensemble.
What’s especially unfortunate about the in-game latency is that some players may hear the song correctly while others may not as it has to do with the user’s ping. By default, whenever in an ensemble the notes the group plays will be heard shortly after by the audience meaning that they do not hear the music in real-time.
To begin creating an ensemble, players must form a party as they would when preparing a duty. All players will need to initiate their Performance Actions by selecting the instrument they would like to play. When the group is ready the Party Leader must initiate a Ready Check from within the Metronome. As mentioned, setting up the Metronome with the correct BPM is very important as even if players do not use it audibly, this will be the only way to ensure the group is synced up during the song especially if they are only listening to the notes they play.
You see while only the Party Leader can set up things like the Metronome, each player has a few options they can play around with to make their experience more comfortable.
The first option is Self Only Mode. When this is selected a player will only be able to hear themselves play music. Generally, players who require a good amount of focus or are easily distracted will select this mode. The other benefit to utilizing this mode is the fact that there is no added latency and notes will be heard as a player inputs them. To be honest, I can see more players utilizing this mode than ensemble mode, though I was unable to find concrete statistics on it.
All Members mode will allow players to hear all members of their ensemble in time with them. For this to work there is a small delay for the player and they will not hear the notes they play as soon as they hit their keybind. Realistically for me, the delay is what would completely throw me off if I were playing in an Ensemble as I’m a person who gets extremely distracted and disoriented when there is latency in sound. I’ve stopped recording music on days when my audio interface bugs out and causes a delay for vocals and have plenty of VODs where my capture card has an audio delay that makes games unbearable to play.
Each member of an Ensemble can have a different setting enabled and no one’s chosen setting will impact another player.
Once a ready check is initiated players have 15 seconds to respond before they are marked as not ready. If a ready check fails another can be initiated directly after, as there is no cooldown period, however, players cannot begin playing music before everyone in the ensemble is ready. When the ready check is successful the metronome will begin to tick, though similar to the modes for audio, each individual can select if they want the metronome to be audible or not. Players can easily rely on the visual queue provided by the metronome if they find the ticking annoying or distracting.
ARE THERE ANY RULES TO WHAT MUSIC I CAN PLAY IN FFXIV?
Technically players are not allowed to play any music that isn’t composed for Square Enix due to their terms of service. When you engage with Performance Actions you must agree not to use third-party content and while many players still do play popular songs, I’m not sure how often players are reprimanded.
The only way to be reprimanded for playing third-party content is with a screen recording submitted to the Square Enix team. Mass reports or text-only reports are not considered evidence, similar to reporting players who utilize mods or parcers.
Do not ever record yourself playing third-party music in-game to post on YouTube.
You do, however, have permission to play, record and upload yourself playing Square Enix music though you must agree to allow the recordings to be licensed by Square Enix. More information about all of this can be found on the FINAL FANTASY Material Usage Licence.
I can’t lie, I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially since a player can lose their account if they are caught playing unpermitted music. While I understand this can sound extreme, realistically Square Enix is covering their own legal ground and isn’t just being salty about players wanting to play anything other than their music.
ARE THERE ANY BUILT-IN SONGS I CAN PLAY IN FFXIV?
Yes, there are! Players have a few options for songs they can practice and learn from FFXIV. This is found in the Performance Assistance option and will provide players with a visualizer that shows them when to hit notes and what notes to play.
These aren’t fully orchestrated songs, so don’t expect multiple parts to practice for more than just the melody of the song. This will, however, get you used to the mechanics of Performance.
CAN YOU MACRO A PERFORMANCE?
Technically no, you cannot Macro a Performance as in-game macros are turned off by default once you enter Performance mode.
There are third-party tools that players can use to bypass this, however, because Square Enix has a strict rule about third-party mods and applications this is technically against their rules and regulations.
Now, of course, rules haven’t stopped people since the first rule was ever made, players regularly use these applications, so if you think someone is playing a song suspiciously well, they may be utilizing one.
Similar to playing third-party music, I would be more safe than sorry and avoid using a third-party application. I am even more wary about using one that inputs keys for you as this has the potential to be tracked. Though it seems this functionality hasn’t been implemented in FFXIV, many games do and have led to swift bans on both the player’s IP and account.
CAN YOU USE A MIDI INPUT/CONTROLLER OR STREAM DECK IN PERFORMANCE ACTIONS?
I won’t lie, one of the main reasons I’m not interested in playing music in FFXIV is the fact that I absolutely hate playing music on my computer’s keyboard. While yes it is similar to playing a piano, it is rather uncomfortable for me and I always manage to mess up where sharps and flats are.
Though it simply takes practice to get used to the mapping, I’d much prefer to simply use a MIDI input instead.
Now, not all midi inputs will be able to function with FFXIV out of the box as you will have to recalibrate the midi controller to output letters and numbers as you would press them on a Mouse and Keyboard. I feel like this takes too much effort, but this is coming from someone who has generally little to no interest in playing music in FFXIV so it may be worth calibrating it for you.
As all midi-keyboards have different settings and programs they utilize I will not be giving a rundown on how to set this up.
Realistically if I was going to use an external controller (that wasn’t a gamepad controller) to play music in FFXIV I would use my Stream Deck. Now, I have a Stream Deck that I use for… err… well stream obviously, but more recently I began utilizing it for other tasks in FFXIV such as fishing.
I had the idea a while back because I tend to fish while working and using my computer’s keyboard tends to be clunky. Though I must admit it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve spent the time setting up a Stream Deck to be able to fish, given that I now have a few hours on the books with it, I have to say that it is much more enjoyable than fishing normally.
To set up your Stream Deck all you have to do is utilize the built-in “Hotkey” option, which is found under the System category. Drag the Hotkey option wherever you would like the note to to and assign the key bind to whatever button is associated with the note.
The same can be done using a gaming mouse, though I can’t imagine it would be comfortable to play music on one and you would need one with at least 12 buttons. Though my husband has one, mine has significantly less and at most I would use one for the modifiers like Shift and Control as I do when in combat.
The setup would be the same as it is for a Stream Deck, though if you use these buttons for Combat as well, I would set up separate hotkey mapping in whatever software your mouse utilizes.