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Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

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Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the modern way of writing, reading and playing music was born in their small village in the province of Arezzo, around 922 AD. The name of the revolutionary inventor is Pomposa-hailed monk Guido d'Arezzo. The location of his birthplace is being claimed by many. But if you come to Talla, people will proudly take you to La Castellaccia, where you will find the birthplace of the Benedictine monk and above all visit a remarkable Museum of Music that is also a documentation centre on medieval music. In the museum you can find antique instruments, evidences and traces of the first 'compositions' with notes. 

Guido Monaco devised the system to remedy his lack of ability to truly make the musical canons of the time understood to his confreres: he first thought of the music stave to write the tones and then moved to the notes whose name he took from the first syllables of the sentence of a liturgical hymn dedicated to St. John. The text of the song was in fact this: Ut queant laxis / Resonare Fibris / Mira gestorum / Famuli tuorum / Solve poluti / Labii reatum / Sancte Iohannes. For those who do not master Latin the text says: 'In order for the servants to sing the wonders of your deeds, dissolve the defect on the weak lip, St John'.

Guido d'Arezzo perhaps drew inspiration for this great innovation by attending the 'Pionta Hill' - today an archaeological site to be absolutely included in the visit to the city of Arezzo - which, around the year 1000, was a fervent cultural centre. It was also known as 'Cathedral School' because in here architectural, legal, philosophical, theological and indeed musical studies were carried out. 

Guido did not anyway complete the stave, as you noted, the tones he wrote were only six, one is missing: after all, in his day, Gregorian chants were not using the 'seventh tone' also called 'sensitive' ... in short, the Monaco did not face Beatles and Jimi Hendrix's problem! The seventh note was introduced in 1482 by Bartolomeo Ramis, which he called 'SI' to respect Guido's method, 'SI' as Sancte Iohannes, the last verse of the above hymn. More rude to Guido d'Arezzo was Giovanni Battista Doni, who replaced in the 17th century the name of the first note 'Ut' with 'Do' taken from the first syllable of his last name. Even today there is a musical movement that pushes to return to 'Ut'. 

If you follow this music trail you will end up in Talla, the birthplace of the music sheet (actually it began as a tetragrammaton), charming village in the Casentino Forest, Etruscan centre with an archaeological site which you can visit, but above all Guido's birthplace who invented what to date is the only language common to all humanity. A final anecdote: when it was time in 1860 to vote the referendum for the annexation to the Savoy kingdom and the formation of the ensuing kingdom of Italy, the village of Talla, largely voted against it: 'Here we make music not Italy'. Rightly so, great revolutions cannot always be started in Talla!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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