Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/676

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660
GUIDO D'AREZZO
 

Lines and four Spaces;[1] and an Italian writer of the 17th century tells us that S. Gregory (Ob. 604) ordained that no other Gamut than that of Guido should be used in the Church![2]

If, by the 'invention of the Gamut,' we are to understand the addition of the note, G, at the bottom of the Scale, it is quite certain that this note was sung ages before the time of Guido. Aristides Quintilianus (flor. circa a.d. 110) tells us that, whenever a note was wanted before the προσλαμβανομενος, (A) of the Hypodorian Mode, it was represented by the recumbent omega (Greek uc omega rotated right.png). S. Odo, writing in the 10th century, represents it, exactly as Guido did, by the Greek gamma (Γ). And Guido himself speaks of it as a modern addition—'In primis ponitur Γ Græcum a modernis adjectum.'

The reconstruction of the Scale itself, on the principle of the Hexachords, is another matter; and, the intimate connection of this, with the process of Solmisation, renders it extremely probable that the two methods were elaborated by the same bold reformer. Now, in his Epistle to Brother Michael, Guido distinctly calls attention to the use of the initial syllables of the Hymn, 'Ut queant laxis,' as a convenient form of memoria technica, and speaks of the method, in terms which clearly lead to the inference that he himself was its inventor: but, he does not mention the Hexachords, in any of his known works; and, when speaking of the substitution of the B rotundum for the B durum, in his 'Micrologus,' he writes in the first and third persons plural with an ambiguity which makes it impossible to determine whether he is speaking of his own inventions, or not; using, in one place, the expression, 'molle dicunt,' and, in another, 'nos ponimus.' Still, it is difficult to read all that he has written on the subject without arriving at the conclusion that he was familiar with the principles of both systems; in which case, the first idea of both must necessarily have originated with him, though it is quite possible that the Mutations[3] by which they were perfected were invented by a later teacher.

Guido's claim to the invention of the Lines and Spaces of the Stave, and of the Clefs (Claves signatæ) associated with the former, is supported by very strong evidence indeed. In his Epistle to Brother Michael, he begins by claiming the new system of teaching as his own: 'Taliter enim Deo auxiliante hoc Antiphonarium notare disposui, ut post hac leviter aliquis sensatus et studiosus cantum discat,' etc. etc.; and then, in the clearest possible terms, explains the use of the Lines and Spaces: 'Quanticumque ergo soni in una linea, vel in uno spacio sunt, omnes similiter sonant. Et in omni cantu quantæcumque lineæ vel spacia unam eandemque habeant literam vel eundem colorem, ita ut omnia similiter sonant, tanquam si omnes in una linea fuissent.' These words set forth a distinct claim to the invention of the red and yellow lines, and the Claves signatæ, or letters indicating the F and C Clefs, prefixed to them; and, upon these, the whole principle of the four-lined Stave depends, even though it cannot be proved to have been in use, in its complete form, until long after Guido's time.[4]

It is impossible that Guido can have invented either Discant, Organum, or Counterpoint, since he himself proposed what he believed to be an improvement upon the form of Diaphonia in common use at the time he wrote,[5] and it was not until a much later period that the Faux Bourdon was supplanted by contrapuntal forms.

The Harmonic or Guidonian Hand, is a diagram, intended to facilitate the teaching of the Hexachords, by indicating the order of the sounds, upon the finger-joints of the left hand.[6]

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Guido himself makes no mention of this diagram in any of his writings; but tradition has ascribed it to him from time immemorial under the name of the Guidonian Hand; and Sigebertus Gemblacensis (ob. 1113), writing little more than half a century after his death, tells us that 'Guido affixed six letters, or syllables, to six sounds,' and 'demonstrated these sounds by the finger-joints of the left hand,'[7] thus confirming the tradition which credits him with the triple invention of the Harmonic Hand, Solmisation, and the Hexachords. Moreover, Guido himself writes to Brother Michael of 'things, which, though difficult to write about, are very easily explained by word of mouth;' and, possibly, these may have been among them.

The Monochord was well known in the time of Pythagoras: but Guido insisted upon its constant use; and, as Dr. Burney points out, the instrument he employed must have been a fretted one—like those sometimes used, under the name of 'Intonators,' for our modern singing-classes; since the moveable bridge could not

  1. Musurgia, p. 114.
  2. Regole di Musica. (Rome, 1657.)
  3. See vol. ii. p.439.
  4. See vol. iii. pp. 691–693.
  5. See vol. iv. pp. 612, 613
  6. Dr. Hullah's use of the left hand for an analogous purpose is familiar to everyone.
  7. Chron. Sigeberti, ad ann. 1028.