More Hidden Music?

My scepticism as to the ‘hidden’ music of Rosslyn Chapel is well-documented. The same people have also tried to show hidden music in planets, plants, and even the DNA of customers. Now it’s the turn of artwork by, and you can probably guess this one, Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s his ‘Portrait of a Musician’ (not, as the Daily Record states, ‘The Musician’), and you can see the inscription of interest in this hires version of it.

In contrast to previous efforts, there’s actually some musical notation on that piece of paper. However, there’s no actual claim in the article that they’ve managed to decipher it. They are ‘…working on trying to find a piece of music which fits…’. And we all know where fitting the facts to the evidence leads. We also know that these guys did not find the musical notes in question. They were uncovered in 1905 after restoration work, and have been plainly visible since.

Finally, there’s the claim that the first word (but not, apparently, the second) of the phrase ‘Agnus Dei’ appears backwards on the same part of the painting. All sources I could find state that the text reads ‘CANT. ANG.‘, for ‘Cantum Angelicum’, a work by the supposed subject of the painting, Franchino Gaffurio. Even if that interpretation is itself highly speculative, I can’t see the letters resolving into ‘AGNUS DEI’ any way you cut it. You can just make out the letters in this zoomable version of the painting, and this Wikimedia version. I thought I’d have a bash at mirroring it myself. Here’s the original;

You can see the large capital ‘C’, and then what has traditionally been read as ‘ant’, all one discrete word. There’s then a space, and a very clear capital ‘A’ followed by the ‘n’ of ‘ang’, with a horizontal line below. You can just barely make out the lower case ‘g’ that follows it (look for the tail in faded, brown ink if you’re struggling).

Now, here’s the mirrored version;

The only way in which I can see what they’re seeing is if I ignore what is now the first bit entirely, and take the ‘A’ as the first letter of ‘Agnus’, ignore the gap and then interpret the next letter as ‘G’ by ignoring the horizontal stroke of the ‘t’, keeping the ‘n’ but calling the ‘a’ a ‘u’, and then somehow taking the reversed ‘C’ as an enormous deformed ‘s’.

See what you can see.

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3 Responses to “More Hidden Music?”

  1. Jeff Nisbet Says:

    This time out, at least, a GENUINE art expert was enlisted to bring a gloss of authority to this latest theory.  Last time out, in the 2005 Scotsman article that brought the Rosslyn Motet to the world stage, a bogus expert was enlisted.

    Here is an excerpt: “James Cunningham, author of The Medieval Diatonic Scale, has seen Mr Mitchell’s manuscripts from the chapel. He said: “I believe this is an excellent interpretation of the symbolism of the stone arches in Rosslyn Chapel. It is a stroke of genius to have discovered the cadences which inspired the music.'”

    Mr. Cunningham has yet to be found, after seven years of looking …

    It does not bode well for the credibility of Scottish art experts, however, when Richard Demarco claims to have “examined this portrait many times but never realised what was written on that bit of paper,” while you and I can find out more with a simple Google search — information that has been known to the art world for an astonishing 107 years.

  2. Facey Romford Says:

    In the same vein, I have just come across this, by the excellent Mike Pitts: http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/stonehenge-noises-off/

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