The hand of Guido

The pressure to post something new every day leads me to the most interesting places.

Today I learned about the Guidonian hand, an eleventh century mnemonic device for unaccompanied singing. As Jesse Rodin, an assistant professor of music at Stanford observes,

“If you’re a violinist and it’s time to play a piece, you put your finger on a certain place on the violin, and, with the help of a bow, the instrument makes a sound. If you’re a singer, you can’t do that…. So the Hand is effectively a fingering system for the voice. It’s a way of assigning each frequency or relation of frequencies a physical place on the body.”

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