Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's different about this song?

click to enlarge

Other than that it's written in simple unison with no harmony, and other than that it begins on La and ends on Re. Details pixelized out to conceal any hints.


  1. OK, I have to ask, and it's a bit embarrassing because I actually do have a musical background: What's with the geometric shapes to the notes? Is that a holdover from plainchant notation, or is that a quirky, "hymnal" way of marking the notes?

  2. Well, I guess I should have said that's not the answer I'm looking for, either. That's the 7-shape system that is descended from the original 4-shape system. It's a way of helping singers who are mostly musically illiterate to know how a note sounds based on its shape. If someone knows how all the notes in the scale sound in relation to other notes, they don't really need to go to all the trouble to learn to actually read music. Every Church of Christ I know of still uses books with the 7-shape system.

  3. P.S. You can look it up at Wikipedia and get a pretty good explanation.

  4. Aaaah. In this example, all the C pitches are triangles, all the E pitches are diamonds, all the G pitches are ovals, and so forth. And apparently this is based on scale degrees rather than actual pitches. I get it now.

    Interesting, but it seemed a bit foreign to me because I learned how to read music at a young age. I can see how it is useful in a group of people where the ability to read music may be spotty, if even known at all.

    BTW: "Hymnomicon" is an awesome title.

  5. Yes. Do is an equilateral triangle, Re is a cup, Mi is a diamond, and so forth. A hint about what's different about this song is which shapes you don't see.