Scales in music

scales of musicDid you know that the basic scale in music today comes from Arabic syllables do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and ti? The Arabic alphabet for these notes is Dal-Ra-Mim-Fa-Sad-Lam-Sin.

The notation, which consists of the syllables (known as solmisation); do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and ti, is widely known as Latin, borrowed from the syllables of the Hymn of St. John. The Italian musician, Guido of Arezzo (c.995-1050) is commonly credited with its invention in 1026. However Villoteau, (d.1839) took the position of the French historian Laborde, admitting the Muslim influence on the theory of music. From comparing Guido’s music scale with that of the Muslims, he found striking resemblances, which led him to believe that the former had adopted his theory from the Muslims. He commented: “according to all appearances it is this latter which served as the model for that of Guido of Arezzo”.

How did Guido know about Muslim work?
Soriano revealed that Guido had studied in Catalunya, in Spain. Hunke established that these Arabic syllables were found in an eleventh century Latin treatise produced in Monte Cassino, a place which had been occupied by the Muslims a number of times, and was the retiring place of Constantine Africanus, the great Tunisian scholar who migrated from Tunis to Salerno and then to Monte Cassino. It is doubtful that such work could have escaped the attention of Guido.

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