Take a Multimedia Tour of the Buttock Song in Hieronymus Bosch’s Painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

buttock song2

“Not a bum note in sight!” goes the head­line, in all the Dai­ly Mail’s trade­mark sub­tle­ty. Mark Prig­g’s straight-to-the-point arti­cle tells us of “a musi­cal score dis­creet­ly writ­ten on the butt of a fig­ure in Gar­den Of Earth­ly Delights, the famous paint­ing by Hierony­mus Bosch,” which, thanks to the labor of love of Okla­homa Chris­t­ian Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent Amelia Ham­rick, “has become an online hit.” The title of her ren­di­tion: “The 600-Year-Old Butt Song from Hell.”

Going a bit upmar­ket to Sean Michaels in the Guardian, we find the details that, “post­ing on her Tum­blr, a self-described ‘huge nerd’ called Amelia explained that she and a friend had been exam­in­ing a copy of Bosch’s famous trip­tych, which was paint­ed around the year 1500. “[We] dis­cov­ered, much to our amuse­ment,” she wrote, “[a] 600-years-old butt song from Hell.” You can read about it on her viral post, which describes her project of tran­scrib­ing Bosch’s pos­te­ri­or-writ­ten score “into mod­ern nota­tion, assum­ing the sec­ond line of the staff is C, as is com­mon for chants of this era.”

You can actu­al­ly hear a ren­di­tion of this hero­ical­ly recov­ered com­po­si­tion by click­ing on the video above. Some fine soul — pre­sum­ably a fel­low named Jim Spalink — took Ham­rick­’s nota­tion and turned it into music. When you’re done, you can then give the But­tock song a close visu­al inves­ti­ga­tion by div­ing into the vir­tu­al tour of The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights, fea­tured here ear­li­er this month. Look for the 13th stop on the guid­ed tour, and you can see the musi­cal nota­tion in incred­i­bly fine detail–finer detail than you could have ever hoped or imag­ined.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Hierony­mus Bosch’s Bewil­der­ing Mas­ter­piece The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights

What Ancient Greek Music Sound­ed Like: Hear a Recon­struc­tion That is ‘100% Accu­rate’

Lis­ten to the Old­est Song in the World: A Sumer­ian Hymn Writ­ten 3,400 Years Ago

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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