In an age of sheet music, pianos, and electronic keyboards, the study of a nearly extinct technique for learning how to sing might seem unwarranted. But Jesse Rodin, an assistant professor of music at Stanford, believes that an antiquated teaching tool reveals much about a faculty that has arguably been neglected in this era of instant access to information: memory.
The Guidonian Hand was a musical staple of medieval clergymen, choirboys, and composers. A map of notes arranged on the hand, it was used to help aspiring singers remember how musical notes relate to one another. Had you watched a church choir perform 500 years ago in France, the Low Countries or Italy, you could be certain that the singers had used the Hand, at least in their formative years.
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