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CLASSICAL  November 2007

CLASSICAL November 2007

Subject:

The Da Vinci (Embedded Music) Code

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 11 Nov 2007 14:14:18 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

   Italian musician uncovers hidden music in Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'
   By Ariel David, The Associated Press
   
   ROME - It's a new Da Vinci code but this time it could be for real.
   
   An Italian musician and computer technician claims to have
   uncovered musical notes encoded in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last
   Supper," raising the possibility that the Renaissance genius
   might have left behind a sombre composition to accompany the
   scene depicted in the 15th-century wall painting.
   
   "It sounds like a requiem," Giovanni Maria Pala said. "It's like
   a soundtrack that emphasizes the passion of Jesus."
   
   Painted from 1494 to 1498 in Milan's Church of Santa Maria delle
   Grazie, the "Last Supper" vividly depicts a key moment in the
   Gospel narrative: Jesus' last meal with the 12 Apostles before
   his arrest and crucifixion, and the shock of Christ's followers
   as they learn that one of them is about to betray him.
   
   Pala, a 45-year-old musician who lives near the southern Italian
   city of Lecce, began studying Leonardo's painting in 2003, after
   hearing on a news program that researchers believed the artist
   and inventor had hidden a musical composition in the work.
   
   "Afterward, I didn't hear anything more about it," he said in
   an interview with The Associated Press. "As a musician, I wanted
   to dig deeper."
   
   In a book released Friday in Italy, Pala explains how he took
   elements of the painting that have symbolic value in Christian
   theology and interpreted them as musical clues.

   Pala first saw that by drawing the five lines of a musical staff
   across the painting, the loaves of bread on the table as well
   as the hands of Jesus and the Apostles could each represent a
   musical note.
   
   This fit the relation in Christian symbolism between the bread,
   representing the body of Christ, and the hands, which are used
   to bless the food, he said. But the notes made no sense musically
   until Pala realized that the score had to be read from right to
   left, following Leonardo's particular writing style.
   
   In his book - "La Musica Celata" ("The Hidden Music") - Pala
   also describes how he found what he says are other clues in the
   painting that reveal the slow rhythm of the composition and the
   duration of each note.
   
   The result is a 40-second "hymn to God" that Pala said sounds
   best on a pipe organ, the instrument most commonly used in
   Leonardo's time for spiritual music. A short segment taken from
   a CD of the piece contained a Bach-like passage played on the
   organ. The tempo was almost painfully slow but musical.
   
   Alessandro Vezzosi, a Leonardo expert and the director of a
   museum dedicated to the artist in his hometown of Vinci, said
   he had not seen Pala's research but that the musician's hypothesis
   "is plausible."
   
   Vezzosi said previous research has indicated the hands of the
   Apostles in the painting can be substituted with the notes of a
   Gregorian chant, though so far no one had tried to work in the
   bread loaves.
   
   "There's always a risk of seeing something that is not there,
   but it's certain that the spaces (in the painting) are divided
   harmonically," he said. "Where you have harmonic proportions,
   you can find music."
   
   Vezzosi also noted that though Leonardo was more noted for his
   paintings, sculptures and visionary inventions, he was also a
   musician.  Da Vinci played the lyre and designed various
   instruments. His writings include some musical riddles, which
   must be read from right to left.
   
   Reinterpretations of the "Last Supper" have popped up ever since
   "The Da Vinci Code" fascinated readers and moviegoers with
   suggestions that one of the apostles sitting on Jesus' right is
   Mary Magdalene, that the two had a child and that their bloodline
   continues.
   
   Pala stressed that his discovery does not reveal any supposed
   dark secrets of the Catholic Church or of Leonardo, but instead
   shows the artist in a light far removed from the conspiratorial
   descriptions found in fiction.
   
   "A new figure emerges - he wasn't a heretic like some believe,"
   Pala said. "What emerges is a man who believes, a man who really
   believes in God."
   
   On the Net: Pala's site (in Italian), http://www.lamusicacelata.it
   Official site for the "Last Supper," http://www.cenacolovinciano.it

Janos Gereben
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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