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Guido d'Arezzo

Guido d'Arezzo (c. 990-c. 1033), music theorist. Educated at the Benedictine Abbey of Pomposa near Ferrara, Italy, he trained the singers and, together with a Brother Michael, created an antiphoner (a collection of antiphons, now lost) using a revolutionary notational system. He moved to Arezzo around 1025, was employed by Bishop Theodaldus to teach the cathedral singers, and wrote his influential treatise, the Micrologus. Around 1028 he was summoned to Rome by Pope John XIX to explain his antiphoner, but due to ill health left in the summer.

He was invited back to Pomposa but settled near Arezzo, probably at the Camaldolese monastery of Avellana. The surviving prologue to Guido's antiphoner, the Aliae Regulae, is the first theoretical description of the 4-line stave (still the standard for the notation of plainsong), with its lines and spaces relating to the notes of the scale (a, b, c, and so on), thereby enabling singers to read music rather than rely on memory. The Micrologus ("Little Discourse") describes a gamut of 21 scale steps; the modes and their characteristics; and contrapuntal techniques for organum including emphasis on the interval of the 4th rather than the 5th and acceptable approaches to cadence.

The Regulae Rhythmicae, an additional prologue to his antiphoner, explained the colouring of the stave lines c (yellow) and f (red), these being the two degrees of the white-note scale above the semitone intervals (b-c and e-f), which singers had difficulty in locating. The Epistola de Ignoto Cantu, a letter to Brother Michael, describes the still-used teaching device of solmization (Sol-fa), in which the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la (derived from a Latin hymn text), denote the degrees of the scale in any key.




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