Copyright 2020 Melanie Spiller. All rights reserved.
MelanieSpiller and Coloratura Consulting
My new book, Musical Innovators, is available from Amazon!
When Harpo Marx turned a broken piano on its side and played the harp, he wasn’t inventing something new—he was reversing history. Learn how all kinds of interesting instruments were invented, plus stories like these: Frustrated by his students’ inability to learn music in the 11th century, Guido D’Arezzo invented a clever mnemonic system using the lines on his hand. That became Do-Re-Mi and is probably why the musical notes were put on the staff—both are tools that we’re still using today. Boarded into a single room with her fanatical cousin for 30 years, Hildegard of Bingen didn’t waste any time. She emerged to become one of the most powerful voices in Europe in the 12th century. She wrote amazing music—and dabbled in medicine, politics, prophesy, and counseling. After committing two murders and getting away with them, Don Carlo Gesualdo retreated to his family home in the 16th century. Find out if the madness revealed by his strangely chromatic music was why he committed the murders or if it was his response to them.Thomas Tallis and William Byrd’s religion was illegal in England during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. Both risked imprisonment or death to compose their music with secret messages to other Catholics. Guillaume de Machaut in the 14th century and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina in the 16thcentury wrote the iconic music of their eras. It couldn’t be topped and it closed those eras as utterly as a fortress gate.