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Musical Scales of Guido Aretino, in a Miscellany

Musical Scales of Guido Aretino, in a Miscellany

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1245

Shelfmark: Harley MS 978

Item number: f.14r

Length: 18.9

Width: 13

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

What if someone put together all the bits and pieces of written material that they enjoyed and needed for frequent use? The result might be something like this manuscript, perhaps a medieval version of the web-surfer's 'favourites' list. Mostly in Latin and French--with one famous Middle English exception--it has songs, satire and poems for entertainment, along with medical information, a calendar of religious feasts and devotional music. Believed to have been at Reading Abbey in the middle ages, it probably was made at a workshop in Oxford and may have been commissioned by the notorious music-loving monk, William of Winchester.

This page has a technical diagram, after the system of Guido Aretino, showing the musical scales. Guido Aretino was an 11th-century monk at Pomposa, where he was prior of the Camaldolite monaster of Avellana. He is credited with inventing the musical stave and a system of naming the notes of the muscial scale.

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