“Ut queant laxis”

Early music notation.

In Professor Jesse Rodin’s IntroSem, Singing Early Music (MUSIC 38N), students presented a final concert of vocal pieces from the medieval through early Renaissance periods. Accompanying the performance were student-written program notes for each of the pieces, exploring the historical context and significance of the music. Monica prepared the notes for “Ut queant laxis,” a 11th century Gregorian chant and the earliest known ancestor of the modern do re mi. Her essay examined the introduction of solmization, or named pitches, in medieval musical theory and pedagogy. She described how Guido of Arezzo, a medieval music theorist, proposed a new hexachordal (six-note) system to simplify the learning of chants. Guido created the tune of “Ut queant laxis” so that each line of the hymn corresponded with a specific note of the hexachord and a name for that note (ut re mi fa sol la, after the first syllable of each line), to aid early singers in sightreading and transcribing music.

What The Instructor Had to Say

Course: Singing Early Music (MUSIC 38N)
Instructor: Professor Jesse Rodin


Monica Thieu
Monica Thieu, '16

Monica Thieu, originally from Dallas, TX, is a psychology major concentrating in neuroscience. She currently works as a research assistant on a project examining the relationship between media multitasking and attention networks in the brain. Outside of the classroom, Monica is the musical director of the Harmonics, Stanford’s rock/alternative-centric a cappella group. In her free time she enjoys knitting and taking afternoon naps.