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Hidden Music Claimed In Da Vinci Painting 220

Posted by kdawson
from the tinfoil-palletes dept.
snib sends us to CNN for coverage of an Italian musician and computer technician who claims to have uncovered a hidden musical score in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper." Giovanni Maria Pala published this and other findings about the 'Last Supper' painting in his book The Hidden Music, released in Italy Friday. "[This raises] the possibility that the Renaissance genius might have left behind a somber 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.'"
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Hidden Music Claimed In Da Vinci Painting

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  • by Vampyre_Dark (630787) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:32AM (#21311647)
    I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find anything you want in that painting. Anyways, RMS wants this story to be called HIDDEN MUSIC CLAIMED IN GNU/LAST SUPPER.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:33AM (#21311649)
    This has to be one of the most creative promotional stunts ever. It's difficult enough to get anyone to listen to new music, but tying your piece to the last supper is truly a work of genius.

      • by cyphercell (843398) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @05:08AM (#21311943) Homepage Journal

        [sarcasm]xml can be semantic, that's like asking if there's "objects" in the painting [/sarcasm]. Personally, I would let the artist's peers judge him, this is after all a field of professionals and if the music is a good it may simply prove that there is a rhythm to the painting.

        after searching google [google.com] I found this:

        "There's always a risk of seeing something that is not there," Pala admits, "but it's certain that the spaces are divided harmonically."

        http://www.newser.com/story/11396.html [newser.com]

        Which apparently can be proven mathematically [google.com].

        My theory: we can say that Leonardo Da Vinci was smart like Einstein with lots of wide ranging problems rather than a few concentrated ones, and his work will have both breadth AND depth by any typical genius' standards. We're talking people like Einstein, Beethoven, Shakespeare and few others. Now Da Vinci wasn't like any of them, he was a "typical" genius in several fields of study and is known "for" using math in his work http://www.google.com/search?&q=leonardo+da+vinci+math [google.com].

        Heres an interesting quote:

        Leonardo invented some of his own mathematical symbols and terms. Many scientists of his time did this because number notation was not standardized until after the invention of the printing press. This made it difficult for scientists and mathematicians to communicate their ideas to each other. The symbols used today for the numbers one through ten come down to us from ancient India by way of Greece, Rome, and the Moors in medieval Spain.

        http://www.hypatiamaze.org/leonardo/leo_vinci.html [hypatiamaze.org]

        Actually, if he was fond of creating his own symbolism you might find something quite "like" xml in his work somewhere... far smarter than you or I. I wrote a phonetic substitution cipher [wikipedia.org] in fourth grade. It was unique in that you could "speak" encrypted English by most laws of the English language. "Peds oue" means "fuck you" that's all I remember, anyways I'm not far above average intelligence. Da Vinci and the others I mentioned are generally considered to be OFF the charts.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gardyloo (512791)

          Leonardo invented some of his own mathematical symbols and terms. Many scientists of his time did this because number notation was not standardized until after the invention of the printing press. This made it difficult for scientists and mathematicians to communicate their ideas to each other.

          I'd be willing to bet that most creative, curious people do this in one form or another. Feynman did (and then mostly abandoned these schemes for the established ones, except for the revolutionary Feynman diagrams); I did (various "easier" symbols for polynomial terms, and oft-used functions; also a phonetic language, with some musical-like notation---I realized in high school that I'd just reinvented Fourier analysis applied to various phonemes); many of my friends did similar things.

  • by crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:36AM (#21311657)
    So quick to dismiss this? I understand that most of you probably have no particular religious beliefs, or none at all, but what's to say that DaVinci wasn't the kind of man to try to disguise something inside one of his paintings? I still like to think it takes a truly open mind to discover the places technology can truly take us.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:39AM (#21311665)
      I still like to think it takes a truly open mind to discover the places technology can truly take us.

      But as Richard Dawkins likes to say, not so open your brains fall out. I'm wondering how long it takes for people to find secret "music" in other paintings and photographs... parodists, start your engines...

      • by niktemadur (793971) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:09AM (#21311783)
        I'm wondering how long it takes for people to find secret "music" in other paintings and photographs...

        Absolutely. Da Vinci executed his paintings (actually, everything he did) with mathematical precision, and what is music but a mathematical language, Bach being the example that stands out in my mind right now? With sophisticated enough technology, we'll be finding musical notes in Jackson Pollock's paintings - scandinavian death metal, perhaps?

        So Da Vinci was also a composer, yet hid it so well that only five centuries later it comes to light. He really kept that secret close to his breast! Typical MSM fodder, this bit of "news", in line with stories from a couple of years ago: "Coming up, ten ways you and your children are in danger of being killed tomorrow in a terrorist attack, but first, the Da Vinci Code - sinister cover-up or fiction?" All of it light years away from Occam's Razor.

        As one of the members of The Society For Putting Things On Top Of Other Things said: The whole thing's rather silly, innit?
        • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @05:14AM (#21311955) Homepage

          Absolutely. Da Vinci executed his paintings (actually, everything he did) with mathematical precision, and what is music but a mathematical language, Bach being the example that stands out in my mind right now? With sophisticated enough technology, we'll be finding musical notes in Jackson Pollock's paintings
          Yes; I'm kind of sceptical of claims such as

          "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 told the AP. "Where you have harmonic proportions, you can find music."
          Where compositions are methodically laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way, chances are that will lend itself to non-random patterns that sound nice. (And that's on top of everything everyone else said). This really doesn't prove anything in itself.

          Anyway, I've used technology to determine what the lyrics to this piece of music are:-

          Last Supper I Gave You My Heart,
          But the very next day, you betrayed me and had me crucified.
          This year, to save me from tears,
          I'll give it to someone who's special.
          • by niktemadur (793971) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @06:04AM (#21312101)
            Last Supper I Gave You My Achy Breaky Heart
            But the very next day, you cheated on me and had me crucified

            There, fixed that for you :)
          • by Bastard of Subhumani (827601) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @06:19AM (#21312151) Journal
            I have an idea in my head, whenever I see birds on telegraph wires (it's on the Lotus Notes splash screen), that some composer saw the notes he wanted from the pattern they made, but I cannot find a reference for it. Google, of course, just brings up loads of Leonard Cohen hits. Anyone know the piece in question or am I just a crackpot?
            • I vote crackpot... but getting back to the topic, can anyone answer this question: was the musical notation we're familiar with invented back then?
              • From wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_Music [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Supper_(Leonardo) [wikipedia.org]

                There was even machine-printed music 20 years before The Last Supper.
              • by sumdumass (711423)
                It appears they were. But here is a little question to think about. Being a math genius of sorts, could Leonardo just have drew a few lines, places some random dots in them in order to keep the perspective correct when copying the painting from a smaller draft?

                It would make sense that if he had drew half inch lines that represented larger spaced lines on the actual painting that a portion of it could be considered or appear as a music score. Everything else could be pure coincidental and even chance.

                I would
            • I am a composer and pianist, and one of my favorite ways to start a new composition is to have a friend pick 3 notes at random. As soon as I start playing those 3 notes, my brain fills in the rest of the music suggested by them. In college, I had a friend who composed lyrics the same way. At parties, someone would pick 3 notes at random, and someone else would pick 3 words. Then I would start playing, and she would sing the lyrics - and it would be pretty good. Almost magical even to me as a participa
        • by kestasjk (933987)
          But ultimately leonardo's last supper has included tunes .
      • by cp.tar (871488)

        I'm wondering how long it takes for people to find secret "music" in other paintings and photographs... parodists, start your engines...

        I must be hanging around here way too much, for I tried to imagine what music could be found in Goatse...

        Alright, enough intertubes for me... gotta go and wash my eyes and ears with bleach.

      • I'm wondering how long it takes for people to find secret "music" in other paintings and photographs
        Now you mention it, if you take the vowels from your post, they spell out a very catchy piece of music.
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:42AM (#21311681) Journal
      So quick to dismiss this?

      It can't be music.

      The RIAA hasn't tried to extort money for it.

    • I think that DaVinci was the kind of man to lead a secret society that hides the Holy Grail and the truth behind the sacred feminine. Anyway, I don't dismiss things like this completely out of hand as it's certainly within the realm of possibility. I read the article and they didn't provide a link to the song and I hope that they're not trying to get some kind of copyright on it as there is most certainly prior art(heh heh) here. Also a musician that truely loves his work can find music in just about anything hence songs like Flight of the Bumblebee, Blue Danube, and that one where the whole song tries to sound like a Typewriter.
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:02AM (#21311763)
      Simply because if you let someone define the pattern and then let them have a large enough sample size, they'll always find an example of it. He claims that if you were to draw horizontal lines that the bodies would for musical notes, but for paintings of the last supper, this is incredibly likely to happen, and if you get 15 or so of them together, you're going to have something that sounds decently like music. If he can take that same pattern and find it in more of Da Vinci's work, then he may be onto something. Right now it's just too likely to be a fluke.

      Besides, with the number of times that it was painted over, there's no way to definitively know whether he's even viewing what Da Vinci painted.
    • Perhaps because slashdotters are sick of stupidity like "The Da Vinci code"?
    • by mrbluze (1034940) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:22AM (#21311831) Journal

      So quick to dismiss this? I understand that most of you probably have no particular religious beliefs, or none at all, but what's to say that DaVinci wasn't the kind of man to try to disguise something inside one of his paintings? I still like to think it takes a truly open mind to discover the places technology can truly take us.
      Da Vinci may not have been religious himself, but he was no fool. He was known to hide riddles in his paintings and painted with his audience in mind - in this case monks. Why wouldn't he have placed something a bit more subtle than just an obviously female looking John and fairly obvious perspective lines and other features which stand out at a glance? The claimed discovery contained more than music - Giovanni Maria Pala also found some ancient Hebrew text.
    • by someone1234 (830754) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @06:59AM (#21312295)
      Poor Da Vinci. With modern technology, he could have hidden a whole symphony in a picture, not just a dozen simple tunes.
    • by FudRucker (866063)
      i heard a rumor there is a secret graphic hidden on the inside back cover of every mad magazine, you should run down to the store and buy one, then come back here and let us know what you found...
    • Did you hear that "music"? I say if your toddler (if you have a toddler, that is) would push the keys of a synth randomly, he/she would make a more sensible tune.

      Besides, half a dosen notes doesn't make a musical piece. Or else, I have a symphony hidden in my spaghetti.
  • Sad story (Score:5, Funny)

    by backslashdot (95548) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:41AM (#21311675)
    Da Vinci accidentally misplaced his car keys in the painting too, but died before he could find it.

    True story.
  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:58AM (#21311751)
    .. the story sounds remarkably similar to this one:

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/01/2047212 [slashdot.org]

    I have two comments:
    1) I guess people can interpret music in anything and get some recognition from it.
    2) If there really isn't music intentionally hidden in these works I bet the artists wouldn't be too happy having people alleging that there is, and changing the interpretation of the piece. Honestly, if the artist had some reason to hide a message in a painting, perhaps because of the potential consequences of his speech, wouldn't he do it in a form where the message was intelligible later? Music seems a poor choice, and there really isn't any motive I can easily think of why you'd have to hide a musical score from view. After all, it's not like the RIAA was filing lawsuits back then ;)

    • by mce (509) *

      If there really isn't music intentionally hidden in these works I bet the artists wouldn't be too happy having people alleging that there is, and changing the interpretation of the piece. Honestly, if the artist had some reason to hide a message in a painting, perhaps because of the potential consequences of his speech, wouldn't he do it in a form where the message was intelligible later? Music seems a poor choice, and there really isn't any motive I can easily think of why you'd have to hide a musical sco

  • Sim Earth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dwedit (232252) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @03:59AM (#21311753) Homepage
    I remember that Sim Earth had the ability to play your planet's current statistics as a song, more like a series of notes based on the content of the Y axis. I bet it the hidden song in the painting would be just as nonsensical and unmusical as playing a scatter plot as if it were music.
  • by Talez (468021) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:05AM (#21311773)
    The RIAA has launched a lawsuit against the Santa Maria delle Grazie for copyright infringement...
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:09AM (#21311781)
    If you go around determined to see the virgin Mary's face, you'll start seeing something kind of like it in every tree bark, every mildew, every piece of burned toast, every birthmark.

    If you're determined to find hidden messages and keep trying different numerical values, you can pull spooky phrases out of the bible... or indeed the script for Animal House.

    People have long been "composing" music from random number generators and fractals. If a random number generator can be forced in to a musical composition, by definition, any series of values can be.

    I personally enjoy the following algorhythm: Break the image up in to inch squares. For any given inch if the dominant color is red, note the word "this", if it's green, note the word "is", and if it's blue, note the word "stupid". Amazingly, Da Vinci left a message encoded that appears to describe his views on musical analysis of his work.
    • by ciaran.mchale (1018214) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @05:13AM (#21311953) Homepage

      I personally enjoy the following algorhythm: Break the image up in to inch squares. For any given inch if the dominant color is red, note the word "this", if it's green, note the word "is", and if it's blue, note the word "stupid". Amazingly, Da Vinci left a message encoded that appears to describe his views on musical analysis of his work.
      I tried that and I found "Stupid, stupid. This this this this this stupid stupid is is is this this is is is is is stupid stupid stupid." Wow. I never realized that Da Vinci had a stutter.
    • by crimson30 (172250)
      It's called Pareidolia [wikipedia.org].

      Try listening to SGU [theskepticsguide.org] for more examples.
    • by Bodrius (191265)
      Great, "thanks" for pointing that out.
      Now we're going to get a book and a movie about "The Animal House Code" to go along with the other nonsense.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @04:22AM (#21311829) Journal

    We know that modern creators often include Easter Eggs in their products, everything from hidden bits of programming to images etched into the silicone hardware. Why do so many of slashdot readers find it impossible to accept that Leonardo might have done the same in his work?

    We know he had the skill for it, we know he did it in other works, we know he loved tricks.

    Yes, human beings have got a talent for seeing patterns where there aren't any, and slashdot readers got a talent for being a bunch of smartasses who think they know better.

    Personally I would first want to see a picture of the painting, the overlayed musical score (how lenient do you have to be to see the scores, is it ALWAYS the center of the hand or is the note sometimes put at the fingernails and othertimes at the wrist?) and the music itself.

    I am slightly suspicious because it seems all the be explained in a book. MONEY GRABBER! If it was science it would be a in a peer reviewed paper, not in a commercial book. Then their is the claim that this shows Leonardo was a religious person. Eh why? I don't see the connection between hiding a piece of music in a painting and the painters world vision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DigitAl56K (805623)
      Da Vinci Easter Egg: Open a copy of any Da Vinci painting in Firefox and quickly tap Ctrl+P then enter. Before you know it, it will appear in hard copy on the nearest printer!

      Known issues: Unfortunately Da Vinci, although a brilliant artist, wasn't so hot at embedded coding back in the day, and occasionally the hard copies will appear in greyscale only.
    • MMO Quests are like orgasms:
      You may solo them, I prefer them in a group.
      Dude, that sig is seriously gross. I got this mental image of a geek group-sexing his MMO pals. Ugh.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and makes absolutely no sense. You can't just find notes and say you have a piece of music, because music is more than notes. Assuming this is anything like written music as we know it, which it looks like from the picture, he's missing an awful lot of information. What key is it? What's the time signature? There's no reference point anywhere on there from which to play, and that doesn't even touch on note durations or other playing instructions. "The tempo was almost painfully slow" - how the hell did h
    • Modern music notation is not the only musical notation. The article also states that Da Vinci was known for making musical puzzles in his writings, and that he played the lute and designed many instruments, so I really don't think it's out of line for some music to be hidden in a painting, too.
  • by DrXym (126579)
    Who'd have thought that you could find order in a picture showing order and transform that order into something resembling music? Mind boggling. For an encore this bozo should be searching for bible codes in Slashdot.
  • by ciaran.mchale (1018214) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @05:24AM (#21311977) Homepage
    A 40-seconds long musical score is a bit short for a "serious" piece of music. Perhaps it was an advertising jingle instead. I'm guessing the lyrics to go with the music were "Giovanni's pizza are tasty. The extra-large size is so big it's the last supper you will ever need to buy. Tell them Da Vinci sent you to qualify for the 'buy one, get one free' offer."
  • FFT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @05:27AM (#21311983)
    I remember a Matlab demo we did in one of my ECE courses. We took the fourier transform of an image of Batman--I think it was an FFT--and after some other processing played it as a wav file. Pretty awesome song, actually.

    Although, to be fair, the image was made for the demo. Still, it was a fair likeness of Batman considering.
  • Yet there were other abstract things hidden in that work of art, I can think of a respect for the Golden Ratio and an implied dodecahedron, but I'm sure there were others. A work of a master craftsman like Da Vinci shouldn't have Occams Razor applied, for it is not simplistic in nature but harbours deeper meaning.
  • It's very easy to shoot this idea down in flames, but he was a smart guy. There's no reason he thought it'd be a laugh to stick an Easter Egg in a painting. After all programmers do it, musicians put cryptic stuff in sleeve notes, writers hide recurring themes in books. Why not a painter?

    Thing is, you can read stuff into anything. So if it is supposed to be musical notes, I'm sure it'll be bloody obvious, otherwise it'll sounds like crap.
  • Someone get the score and set it to music and make both available freely on the internet.

    If he complains of copyright infringement then his book is a fraud.
  • ...then you'll easily believe that Sir Francis Bacon encoded proof that he wrote Shakespeare's plays by having the printer of Shakespeare's plays use two very slightly different fonts of type, and encoding messages in an ASCII-like binary code in which one font of type represented the zeroes and the other represented the ones.

    (No, that's not a joke. That's exactly what Ignatius L. Donnelly claimed in an 1888 book entitled The Great Cryptogram [wikipedia.org])
  • I hope that no one gets the idea to rip the music from the painting
  • Eureka! (Score:3, Funny)

    by memorycardfull (1187485) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @10:34AM (#21313173)
    Pala, a 45-year-old musician who lives near the southern Italian city of Lecce, began studying Leonardo's painting in 2003, after hearing...all the media hype surrounding that damned Da Vinci Code book. Eureka! I have found (a paycheck!)
  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @10:57AM (#21313307)
    If you draw lines across the last supper, you see places where people line up. It's VERY exact. Take a ruler and pass it over you screen. There's something going on there. This is why people get hepped up about it.

    Musical notes? I doubt it. A hidden message? emphatically yes. The most likely message: "DaVinci was really, really ANAL."
  • Re: MP3 Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by spaglia2 (1187227)
    I am a classical musician and listened to the sample from the link above. It is mostly monophonic (one note at a time) and given the graceful and harmonious placement of objects in the painting, it is not surprising that when turned into musical notes and played slowly and ponderously on a pipe organ, it sounds like a Gregorian chant. Perhaps what we find here is the natural correlation between graphic and musical art.
    • by KillerBob (217953)
      Perhaps you'd be the one to correct me if I'm wrong... but didn't they use a 3-line stave around the time DaVinci was active? I thought the 5-line stave didn't get introduced until about the 1600's....
  • Wrong key! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LineGrunt (133002) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @01:10PM (#21314243)
    I ran this by my wife who is a professional musician with perfect pitch and a degree in music.

    She says that the recording is in E-flat minor, but that organs at the time would have been in a different tuning standard, roughly one-half step different than the current standard.

    E-flat minor is a very rare key for that time-period (like it wasn't used until Bach) but if you move the snippet a half step, it would have been E minor, a very common key during that period.

    Furthermore, there are intervals in the snippet that weren't in common use in that time period. I couldn't keep my wife's interest long enough to determine if those intervals made more sense if the entire thing was 1/2 a step down.

    Anyhow, my wife's summary: "very pretty, but probably not from DaVinci's time."

    LineGrunt

    PS I may have the exact note names and directions wrong as I'm _not_ a professional musician with perfect pitch... Musicians have their own undecypherable 'geek-speak.'
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I believe to have read that the five line notation system wasn't widely used until 16th century. Why would Leonardo Da Vinci use a system of notation that didn't exist?
  • I've done a very carefuly musical analysis of the words contained in TFA, and when mapped through the appropriate steganographic filters it sounds shockingly like a 1985 tribute to a 1973 tribute to Roy Harper called Hats Off To Charles Obscure [sendspace.com].
  • He should tackle M.C. Escher next. Take some of his etchings and overlay them with tracing paper then start connecting the intersections of his stairs and whatnot. The result may surprise you.

    qz
  • I think a more plausible explanation, if there are actually musical notes in the painting (which I doubt), is that Da Vinci had an idea that there would be a natural beauty in the music that could be expressed in the painting. He may have been trying to bring together the natural attraction we have in each art form, to create something extraordinary. Perhaps we subliminally see the music in the painting, and it adds some sort of attraction that we cannot describe.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... you can clearly hear "I buried St. Paul"
  • How about they decode the music, then find that "RADIUM" warezed license for Sound Forge in there ?

    Dig that painter up and watch the RIAA sue his decomposed ass.

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