Do, Re, Me.....

The Benedictine monk and choirmaster Guido d'Arezzo (990-1050), seen on the right, noticed that in the Latin hymn Ut Queant Laxis, which was sung in chant for the Feast of St John the Baptist, the tones rise progressively......

Ut Queant Laxis Resonare fibris
Mira gestorum Famuli tuorum
Solve polluti Labii reatum
Sante Iohannes

The notes in italics, Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La etc formed the basis of teaching music to children. Do replaced Ut in common usage, probably because the T in Ut could not be sung.

Very clever monks those Benedictines....

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M. Keiser said…
Awesome, i learn something new every day. now i know.
Garth Trinkl said…
Pliable, what a joyful way to begin a Monday morning! Thanks a million!

Here is the acrostic poem on Ut re mi fa so la that Josquin des Prez (ca 1440/50 - 1521) set to music as a motet -- his Ut Phebi radiis . Here the scale degrees describe the mythological text, but also symbolize the scala celestis by both ascending and descending:

Ut Phebi radiis soror obvia sidera luna,
Ut reges Salomon sapientis nomine cunctos,
Ut remi ponthum querentum velleris aurum,
Ut remi faber instar habens super aera pennas,
Ut remi fas solvaces traducere merces,
Ut remi fas sola Petri currere prora,
Sic super omne quod est regnas, O Virgo Maria.
Latius in numerum canit id quoque celica turba,
Lasso lege ferens eterna munera mundo:
La sol fa ta mina clara prelustris in umbra,
La sol fa mi ta na de matre recentior ortus,
La sol fa mi re ta quidem na non violata,
La sol fa mi re ut rore ta na Gedeon quo,
Rex, O Christe Jesu, nostri Deus alte memento.


And here is the link to the full score to Josquin's motet Ut Phebi radiis:

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