Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fun fact for St-Jean Baptiste Day
Or Julie Andrews didn’t come up with the musical scale:
Western music has... been influenced by the Church in countless ways, beginning with the very use of musical notation ... [neumes, square notes in Gregorian chant]. An especially interesting and little-known example ... involves the Divine Office for the feast of St John the Baptist, which uses a hymn called Ut queant laxis. [Quoting writer Michael Foley:] ‘An Italian monk called Guido of Arezzo (d. 1050) noticed that the melody of the hymn ascended precisely one note of the diatonic scale of C at each verse.’ He therefore decided to name the notes after the first syllable of each verse of the first stanza:
Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
Mira gestorum
Famuli tuorum, solve polluit
Labii reatum, sancte Ioannes.

[O for thy spirit, holy John,
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by thy children might thy deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.]
Ut was later changed in several countries to [the more euphonious] do.
- Thomas Woods from Latin Mass

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