Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do Re Mi: Or, What I Learned From a Sci-Fi Book

Initially written by Paolo Diacono as a hymn to Saint John the Baptist (ca 720 - 799), the Latin words "Ut queant laxis, Resonare fibris, Mira gestorum, Famuli tuorum, Solve polluti, Labii reatum," translate to "So that Your servants may sing at the top of their voices the wonders of Your Acts, and absolve the fault from their stained lips."

1. UT - Queant Laxis
2. RE - Sonare Fibris
3. MI - Ra Gestorum
4. FA - Muli Tuorum
5. SOL - Ve Polluti
6. LA - 0 Biireatum

Using the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la as names for the six tones, C to A, an Italian monk named Guido d'Arezzo (990-1050) created the system of Solmization, a system of using syllables, especially sol-fa like syllables, to represent the tones of the scale (known as the Guido System). Later in history 'Ut' was replaced by the more easily singable 'Do,' and another syllable, si or ti, was added at the end, giving the scale of seven syllables called do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti, which forms the present basic system of singing names for the tones of the scale. The syllable sol was later shortened to 'So,' making all of the syllables uniform in spelling and all ending with a vowel. This allowed for ease of remembering for faster learning and making it easy to do 'sight singing', or being able to instantly sing new music in tune from reproduced standardized sheet music.

Once again: thanks monks! No monks, no monasteries. No monasteries, no western culture.

1 comment:

Papa said...

Because I am sick of secular-type people asserting, with perfect sincerity, that religion has been an unremitted blight on humanity, I need someone to compile for me a list of gems like this that document clearly the positive impact of Christianity.

Please have it on my desk on Monday.