Guido's Scale

   , ARETINIAN SYLLABLES
   About 995 A.D. Guido d'Arezzo, also known as Guido Aretinus, became a Benedictine monk and taught at monasteries in Italy and France. He went twice to Rome to instruct Pope John XIX (reign 1024-1032) and the papal court in his antiphonory.
   A musicologist, he originated the Guido scale or Aretinian syllables. The scale consisted of six syllables—ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la—which could be applied to the first six notes of the diatonic scale, starting at any pitch desired. Guido then added a low G, which he called gamma after the Greek letter. It later became known as gamma-ut. Gamma was later named "G," as in G-clef; ut was renamed do, as in do, re, mi; and gamut, after the final ti was added to the scale, entered the English language as a generalized word designating the complete range or extent of anything—notes, prices, choices. "To run the gamut" is to run through the entire series of musical notes, a full display of figures, or a whole range of colors. It is the alphabetical A-to-Z of any subject: "Defense counsel ran the gamut of emotions in pleading for clemency—he laughed, he begged, he harangued, he cried." Guido named the notes in a curious fashion. They came from the first syllables of lines of an ancient Latin hymn to St. John:
Ut queant laxis
   resonare fibris.
   Mira gestorum
   famuli tuorum,
   Solve polluti
   labii reatum
   Sancta lohannes

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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