I understand the whole context and the words meaning, but am confused with why "they must have listened", and particularly what does "something" refer to in the sentence? My guess is "some professional, different types of music"? But then it leads back to why "they must have"?? (my guess of "they" probably referring to the orchestra players they have just listened to )

Here is the context:

We sat in silence, gazing at the castle. Normally, at night, it was bathed in a kind of orange glow from the lights dotted around the fortress wall. But tonight, under a full moon, it seemed flooded in an ethereal blue.

‘What kind of music would they have played there, do you think?’ I said. ‘They must have listened to something.’

‘The castle? Medieval stuff. Lutes, strings. Not my cup of tea, but I’ve got some I can lend you, if you like. You should walk around the castle with it on earphones, if you really wanted the full experience.’

The context is : The two people sitting in their car chatting, just coming back from a concert which they both enjoyed, still lost in the remembered music.

1 Answer 1


I don't think that the person speaking is thinking aloud about the concert they were just at. Rather, it sounds like they're wondering about what sort of music was played when the castle was first built. A more complete version of the sentence would be something like:

"What kind of music would they have played in the castle in Medieval times when it was first built?" I said. "The people back then must have listened to some sort of music."

This makes sense with the response talking about ancient music featuring lutes and other stringed instruments.

The choice of phrasing is intended to imply that the speaker assumes that as foreign as the culture in the castle was hundreds of years ago, music was still part of their lives... they "must have" listened to some sort of music.

  • ha! that's why! that makes sense now. I was so stuck with the idea that they might talk about some concerts might or might not be held in a castle, of course this understanding also cannot satisfy myself:)
    – user86301
    Dec 17, 2018 at 6:34
  • so one more question: "they" is not used to refer to the ones previously mentioned or implied in this sentence, but used to refer to people in general??
    – user86301
    Dec 17, 2018 at 6:42
  • Do you mean in your quote? If so, "they" would mean "the people who resided in/worked in the castle.
    – Catija
    Dec 17, 2018 at 6:46
  • "the people who resided in/worked in the castle, back in medieval time in the castle,"?
    – user86301
    Dec 17, 2018 at 7:09
  • Sure. You could shorten it to "the musicians" - "What kind of music would the musicians have played..."
    – Catija
    Dec 17, 2018 at 7:15

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