Guido of Arezzo

Guido d'Arezzo, known as "Guido Monaco" here in his hometown, is a pivotal figure in the history of world music, born in Arezzo between 991 and 992. His life and work left an indelible mark not only in music theory, but also in teaching practice and music notation.
guido monaco di arezzo - Guido of Arezzo

Guido of Arezzo, in the city Guido Monaco

Guido of Arezzo, who is simply called “Guido Monaco” in the city, was born in Arezzo between 991 and 992. He is one of Arezzo’s most influential figures and was in fact a music theorist as well as a monk of the Benedictine Camaldolese order.

The debated origins

His origins are actually debated: not only Arezzo and Ferrara, there are many cities that dispute Guido Monaco’s birthplace. There is no doubt, however, that in Arezzo Guido lived most of his life and that in this city of ours with its ancient history he worked to revolutionize the ondof music theory. Guido Monaco is therefore historically and traditionally recognized as an Arezzo native, there being no other city outside of Arezzo that has treasured him so deeply.

The priestly and musical vocation

Guido was a Benedictine Camaldolese monk from 1013, when in the abbey of Pomposa, near Ferrara, he took the seminary path. Guido therefore spent at the abbey what was also the period of his musical vocation. The monk received here the task of teaching music to the younger brethren. Guido soon realized the difficulty of learning the chants of the Gregorian tradition and the rhythmics of music with the method used at that time. Indeed, before his reform, it was necessary for the master to have the students listen to the melody, and they had to learn it through numerous laborious repetitions. The neumes were indicated by the individual syllables of the chant text without any indication of degree or interval between notes.

The Monk of Arezzo therefore devised a system by which anyone, without the aid of a teacher, could read , understand and interpret the intervals of tones and semitones.

Guido of Arezzo and the birth of modern musical notation

Guido thus created what is called the “tetragrammaton.” This new method consisted of a four-line system in which notes could be written by defining their positions on the lines or the spaces between them. The Benedictine monk then proposed a unified system for writing them, using a square-which would later become a rhombus and finally an oval.

The Master thus created the basis of modern musical notation, as his tetragrammaton was later evolved into a pentagram – still used today – thanks to the work of Ugolino Urbevetano da Forlì. Guido did not limit himself to this: in fact, he was also responsible for the modern names of the musical notes-Do, Re, Mi, Fa, G, La, Si . The notes are derived from the text of a Gregorian chant by Paul Deacon , entitled “Versus in laudem sancti Iohannis Baptistae.”

“UT queant laxis / REsonare fibris / MIra gestorum /FAmuli tuorum /

SOLve polluti / LAbuli reatum /Sancte Ioannes.”

The Return to Arezzo

Guido, while finding the older brethren reluctant and accustomed to the classical system of Gregorian learning, was recognized as a valid theorist by Abbot Guido Strambiati. The latter then sent him to his friend Theodald, Bishop of Arezzo. The Benedictine monk was thus placed at the head of the monastic music school of Arezzo. Guido dedicated precisely to Bishop Theodald, his promoter, his famous treatise“Micrologus”.

Guido of Arezzo thus became a chant teacher from 1025 in the school of the old Cathedral located on Pionta Hill outside the city walls. In his new academic home he had the opportunity to apply modern musical notation, thus forever revolutionizing music throughout the world.

A Recognized Primacy

In Micrologus ,Guido deals with 20 short chapters to define the modalities of Gregorian chant and teaching. In the treatise the Aretine discusses the composition of polyphonic music. His was one of the most widely used treatises on music in the Middle Ages .

Guido of Arezzo even went so far as to be invited by Pope John XIX, who wanted him in Rome so that the Benedictine could explain his work in detail.

Guido Monaco in Arezzo

Guido’s revolutionary work led to Arezzo becoming one of the most important musical centers of his time, and even today Arezzo is called the “City of Music.”

A statue of Guido , by Salvino Salvini, greets visitors arriving from the station and proceeding to the square dedicated to him. Even today Arezzo celebrates the Benedictine friar by promoting musical activities and studies. In fact, Arezzo has a renowned music high school and every year the International Polyphonic Competition Guido of Arezzo takes place, a very important event that brings together musicians from all over the world each year.

Exploring Arezzo with Antiche Mura

The strategic location of the B&B Antiche Mura makes it easy to access Arezzo’s hidden gems. From the square dedicated to Guido of Arezzo to the old Cathedral on Pionta Hill, every step into the city is a journey through centuries of history.

Conclusion: an immortal tradition

Arezzo, thanks to figures like Guido of Arezzo and institutions like the Foundation of the same name, remains an important custodian of musical and historical tradition. A stay in this city, cradled by the warm hospitality of Antiche Mura, is a promise of an unforgettable journey into the heart of Tuscany and its priceless heritage.




Comfort Contemporaneo, avvolto nel fascino della storia

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