Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cantus, songs and fancies, 1666

I took this from a songbook written by John Forbes. It seems to be a beginning manual for teaching children how to play and sing simple songs, but the first few pages are full of complicated diagrams and charts. This illustration is called a Guidonian Hand, and is supposed to teach you about tones and octaves and other useless crap. I searched some of the terms written on the parts of the hand, and they're Latin words for the types of tones (e.g., molle is soft, durum is hard).

That sort of stuff is definitely what you should start with when you teach kids about music. Children love to hear about hexachords. It introduces them to atonality early on, and you know how much kids love to challenge preconceived notions about melodic construction.

Update: I just remembered this viral video from a few months ago featuring a 21st-century version of the Guidonian hand.


Doug said...

One problem with this instruction method is that you aren't going to get very far on the piano while your hand is in the "lobster claw" position with all your fingers pressed together.
I came very close to receiving piano instruction as a child. My parents were going to use a similar pedagogical technique: I was going to be taught by a guy named Guido, who was going to smack me every time I screwed up a chord.
Kubla Kahn.

Sarah Redmond said...

I love how the Guidonian hand is sort of like crib notes for medieval singers and musicians. It also reminded me of the viral video of the hands displaying the lyrics to that daft punk song. Everything is so cyclical:

I'm going to make a video like that to the timeless Olivia Newton-John song "Xanadu." Luckily, the chorus is pretty must just the word "Xanadu."

Anonymous said...

I want to print this out and hand it to one of my piano pupils..
3 months and she still cant play the first three bars of pop goes the weasel with one hand...
This diagram just sums it up perfectly