What does a 500-year-old song found on a butt in hell sound like?

butt song from The Garden of Earthly Delights

If one looks closely at the famous painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, created by Hieronymous Bosch around the year 1500, you can find many strange images. This includes a scene in hell where someone has musical notes on their butt. Now, a student has deciphered what this music sounded like.

butt song from The Garden of Earthly Delights

Amelia Hamrick, a 20-year old student at Oklahoma Christian University recently transcribed the piece, which is found on the right panel of the triptych, which was created some time between 1490 and 1510 and now resides in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

“Another OC student and I were looking at the painting one night,” Hamrick explains. “We noticed, much to our amusement, music written on the posterior of one of the characters, in an area that’s easy to overlook. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants from that time period.”

After recording the song, Hamrick posted the audio file on her personal blog, where it began to gain a lot of attention online and around the globe.

“I still can’t believe this took off like it did,” Hamrick said. “I just threw it together in 30 minutes at one in the morning.”

Hamrick is recording a second version of the song with assistance from Oklahoma Christian music professor John Fletcher, who is quite proud of Hamrick. “It does not surprise me at all that she would jump in and do this,” Fletcher said. “She was simply interested in the joy of discovering something new.”

According to Hamrick, the Music History course taught by Professor Emeritus Harold Fletcher helped her compose the song. “We read about Gregorian notation and notation for other types of music during that period,” Hamrick said. “We were tested over a lot of recordings, so I had to listen to quite a bit of music that is very different from how music sounds today.”

Click here to listen to the song on Amelia Hamrick’s Tumblr Page

Click here to learn more about Hieronymus Bosch

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