Guido of Arezzo

Guido of Arezzo

Overview

Guido of Arezzo or Guido Aretinus or Guido da Arezzo or Guido Monaco or Guido d'Arezzo (991/992 – (17 May?) 1050) was a music theorist of the Medieval
Medieval music
Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

 era. He is regarded as the inventor of modern musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 (staff notation
Staff (music)
In standard Western musical notation, the staff, or stave, is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch—or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments. Appropriate music symbols, depending upon the intended effect,...

) that replaced neumatic notation
Neume
A neume is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation. The word is a Middle English corruption of the ultimately Ancient Greek word for breath ....

; his text, the Micrologus
Micrologus
The Micrologus is a treatise on Medieval music written by Guido of Arezzo, dating to approximately 1026. It was dedicated to Tedald, Bishop of Arezzo. This treatise outlines singing and teaching practice for Gregorian chant, and has considerable discussion of the composition of polyphonic...

, was the second-most-widely distributed treatise on music in the Middle Ages (after the writings of Boethius).

Guido was a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 of the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 order from the Italian city-state of Arezzo
Arezzo
Arezzo is a city and comune in Central Italy, capital of the province of the same name, located in Tuscany. Arezzo is about 80 km southeast of Florence, at an elevation of 296 m above sea level. In 2011 the population was about 100,000....

.
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Guido of Arezzo or Guido Aretinus or Guido da Arezzo or Guido Monaco or Guido d'Arezzo (991/992 – (17 May?) 1050) was a music theorist of the Medieval
Medieval music
Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

 era. He is regarded as the inventor of modern musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 (staff notation
Staff (music)
In standard Western musical notation, the staff, or stave, is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch—or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments. Appropriate music symbols, depending upon the intended effect,...

) that replaced neumatic notation
Neume
A neume is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation. The word is a Middle English corruption of the ultimately Ancient Greek word for breath ....

; his text, the Micrologus
Micrologus
The Micrologus is a treatise on Medieval music written by Guido of Arezzo, dating to approximately 1026. It was dedicated to Tedald, Bishop of Arezzo. This treatise outlines singing and teaching practice for Gregorian chant, and has considerable discussion of the composition of polyphonic...

, was the second-most-widely distributed treatise on music in the Middle Ages (after the writings of Boethius).

Guido was a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 of the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 order from the Italian city-state of Arezzo
Arezzo
Arezzo is a city and comune in Central Italy, capital of the province of the same name, located in Tuscany. Arezzo is about 80 km southeast of Florence, at an elevation of 296 m above sea level. In 2011 the population was about 100,000....

. Recent research has dated his Micrologus to 1025 or 1026; since Guido stated in a letter that he was thirty-four when he wrote it, his birthdate is presumed to be around 991 or 992. His early career was spent at the monastery of Pomposa
Pomposa Abbey
Pomposa Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the comune of Codigoro near Ferrara, Italy. It was one of the most important in northern Italy, famous for the Carolingian manuscripts preserved in its rich library, one of the wealthiest of Carolingian repositories, and for the Romanesque buildings.The...

, on the Adriatic
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 coast near Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

. While there, he noted the difficulty that singers had in remembering Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

s.

He came up with a method for teaching the singers to learn chants in a short time, and quickly became famous throughout north Italy. However, he attracted the hostility of the other monks at the abbey, prompting him to move to Arezzo, a town which had no abbey, but which did have a large group of cathedral singers, whose training Bishop Tedald invited him to conduct.

While at Arezzo, he developed new techniques for teaching, such as staff notation and the use of the "ut–re–mi" (do–re–mi
Solfege
In music, solfège is a pedagogical solmization technique for the teaching of sight-singing in which each note of the score is sung to a special syllable, called a solfège syllable...

) mnemonic (solmization
Solmization
Solmization is a system of attributing a distinct syllable to each note in a musical scale. Various forms of solmization are in use and have been used throughout the world.In Europe and North America, solfège is the convention used most often...

). The do–re–mi syllables are taken from the initial syllables of each of the first six half-lines of the first stanza of the hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

 Ut queant laxis
Ut queant laxis
Ut queant laxis or Hymnus in Ioannem are verses in honour of John the Baptist written in Horatian Sapphics by Paulus Diaconus, the eighth century Lombard historian...

, whose text is attributed to the Italian monk and scholar Paulus Diaconus
Paul the Deacon
Paul the Deacon , also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, , was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.-Life:...

 (though the musical line shares a common ancestor with the arrangement of Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

's "Ode to Phyllis" (Odes 4.11) recorded in the Montpellier manuscript H425).

Guido is credited with the invention of the Guidonian hand
Guidonian hand
In Medieval music, the Guidonian hand was a mnemonic device used to assist singers in learning to sight-sing. Some form of the device may have been used by Guido of Arezzo, a medieval music theorist who wrote a number of treatises, including one instructing singers in sightreading...

, a widely used mnemonic system where note names are mapped to parts of the human hand. The Micrologus, written at the cathedral at Arezzo and dedicated to Tedald, contains Guido's teaching method as it had developed by that time. Soon it had attracted the attention of Pope John XIX
Pope John XIX
Pope John XIX , born Romanus, was Pope from 1024 to 1032.He succeeded his brother, Pope Benedict VIII , both being members of the powerful house of Tusculum...

, who invited Guido to Rome. Most likely he went there in 1028, but he soon returned to Arezzo, due to his poor health. It was then that he announced in a letter to Michael of Pomposa ("Epistola de ignoto cantu") his discovery of the "ut–re–mi" musical mnemonic. Little is known of him after this time.

The computer music notation system GUIDO music notation
GUIDO music notation
GUIDO Music Notation is a computer music notation system designed to logically represent all aspects of music in a format which is both computer-readable and easily readable by human beings. It was named after Guido of Arezzo, who pioneered today's conventional musical notation 1,000 years...

is named after him and his invention.

The International International Guido d'Arezzo Polyphonic Contest (Concorso Polifónico Guido d'Arezzo) is named after him. - Arezzo, Province of Arezzo, Italy

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