Hidden sheet music in Hieronymus Bosch triptych recorded by blogger
Notes written on the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens on a panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights has been composed.
An enterprising blogger has recorded a piece of music hidden in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, bringing to life a series of notes that originally appeared on the backside of one of Bosch’s sinners.
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.”
Once zoomed-in, the object of Amelia’s interest is clear: Bosch left sheet music “written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting”.
“I decided to transcribe it into modern notation,” Amelia explained, “assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era … The last few measures are kind of obscured but i tried my best.”
The rest is history, really. Amelia posted a piano version of the torture-victim’s backside hymnal. Someone else wrote some silly lyrics (key phrase: “we sing from our asses while burning in purgatory”) and arranged it as choral chant. Soon, each post had received thousands of notes and reposts.
None of this could have been foreseen by Bosch, for whom The Garden Of Earthly Delights was probably a caution against the unending hazards of sin. While music and musical instruments are major motifs of his masterwork, which has long been on display in Madrid, these are often interpreted as symbols of pleasure, lust or the notoriously naughty habits of travelling minstrels.