Hear the music a 16th-century artist etched on a man's butt

A torture victim in Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" has sheet music painted on his bottom -- and it's now been transcribed and played for the first time.

oil on wood,"The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1490-1510, public domain

There's a lot going on in painter Hieronymus Bosch's turn of the 16th century-era triptych, "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Its central and right panels show humans in the eponymous garden and hell respectively. It is, in fact, the hell panel where Bosch's truly wicked sense of humor shines through in the various ingenious tortures he devised for sinners.

It was on one such torture victim that Amelia, a music student at Oklahoma Christian University, found several phrases of sheet music inscribed. On the man's bottom, to be precise.

Then she decided that music needed to be heard. "I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era," she said on Tumblr.

The result is a rather melodic little up-and-down tune that doesn't seem to fit with the hell theme of the image. It is possible, though, that Bosch couldn't actually write music and just put down what he thought looked cool.

The piece did get a little more atmospheric when another Tumblogger, wellmanicuredman, arranged it as a more period-appropriate Gregorian-style chant, complete with lyrics.

Amelia, though, noted that her work on the piece is not yet done. "Just wanted to let people know that there are indeed errors in the transcription and this is indeed not a very good recording (I threw this together in like 30 minutes at 1 in the morning,) but I'm working with the music department at my college to get the transcription more accurate," she said.

Hopefully they'll come up with a catchier name than wellmanicuredman's "600-year-old butt song from hell." We know what our vote is: "Eine Kleine Buttmusik."

(Source: Crave Australia via The Guardian)

 

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