Listen to a Recording of a Song Written on a Man’s Butt in a 15-Century Hieronymus Bosch Painting

There’s something unusually exciting about finding a hidden or discreetly placed element in a well-known painting. I can only imagine the thrill of the physician who first noticed the curious presence of a human brain in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam: god, his retinue of angels, and their cloak map neatly onto some of the main neural structures, including the major sulci in the cerebellum, the pituitary gland, the frontal lobe, and the optic chiasm. It’s hard to gauge Michelangelo’s motivation for doing so, but considering his documented interest in dissection and physiology, the find is not particularly surprising.

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Last week, the Internet became similarly excited when an enterprising blogger named Amelia transcribed, recorded, and uploaded a musical score straight out of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, painted between 1490 and 1510. The kicker? Amelia found the score written on a suffering sinner’s butt. The poor, musically-branded soul may be seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the painting’s third and final panel (click the image below to enlarge), wherein Bosch depicts the various torture methods of hell. The unfortunate hell-dweller lies prostrate atop an open music book, crushed by a gigantic lute, while a toad-like demon stretches his tongue towards his tuneful buttocks. Another inhabitant is strung up on a harp above the scene.

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The piece, which Amelia transcribed and recorded, can be heard in the video above or in a choral arrangement made by blogger Well Manicured Man. It is… unusual. Although we can’t ascertain why Bosch decided to write out this particular melody, since scant biographical information about the painter survives, it’s possible that he decided to include music in his depiction of the inferno because it was viewed as a sign of sinful pleasure. For those who haven’t yet had a chance to hear it, listen to Medieval-era butt music above, or at Amelia’s site.

via Dangerous Minds

Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman or at Google, or read more of his writing at the Huffington Post.

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by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

  • Marky
  • Sascha

    On the occasion of this discovery, I created a virtual 3D exhibition of Bosch’s most famous paintings. A museum would never be able to unite these valuable and fragile artworks all together within one single hall – everybody is invited to explore it from their laptops after installing a browser plugin. http://bit.ly/1cqwNW9

  • Ron Fontes

    Obviously not the work of an actual composer, more like the musical notation a cartoonist would use to indicate music.
    The Michelangelo “brain” thing is more intriguing: i never noticed the billowing cloak is actually shaped like a brain. Wowsers.

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