nonfiction nuggets…inventing the way to write musical sounds

Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo, written and illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Ever wonder what the fanfare sounded like as an Egyptian pharoah entered a room?  Or the lullaby Mary hummed to Jesus?  Or the dance music at an ancient Viking wedding?  For thousands and thousands of years, music played its stately, soothing, joyful role in human lives, without any means of preserving it for others to enjoy.  Notes could be played, heard, and mimicked, but not written down.  Once out of memory, tunes were lost forever.  No one had ever come up with a system, a language, for writing musical sounds.

Enter Guido d’Arezzo.  Born in Italy in 990 AD, Guido began early in life to consider creating a way of writing down the sounds of a song.  His ideas, however, were met with disinterest, dismissal, impatience by all but one monk, Brother Michele, who caught a vision of what Guido was hoping to accomplish and who offered him friendship and encouragement during the long, difficult process of inventing a musical alphabet, a staff, notation, and then convincing others of its value.

Susan Roth has captured the massive significance of Guido’s contribution, the acute trial of his undertaking, and the jubilant victory of seeing his invention put to good use, even within his lifetime.  Her gorgeous paper collages feature scraplets of ancient music here, there, and everywhere.  Also included are an intriguing Foreword and informative Author’s Note.  Readily accessible to early elementary children, this is also fascinating stuff for those much older who do not realize the role Guido’s work plays in their current lives. 

Here’s the Amazon link:Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido D’Arezzo