Imagine a world in which music belonged only in the present tense. It could never be replicated or taught and passed down through the generations. Without the genius and determination of a man named Guido d'Arezzo, this would have been a reality.
Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d'Arezzo by Susan Roth is the story of the man who invented the first system for reading music, and in doing so enabled us all to enjoy and replicate any notes we choose.
Take a journey back to the Arezzo, Italy, of one thousand years ago and uncover the fascinating story of Guido d'Arezzo, a young man who enjoyed singing in his local choir and was consumed by his quest to develop a written system for teaching and learning music. His passionate pursuit of this goal alienated him from his neighbors and sent him to the quiet of a Benedictine monastery, where he could pursue his work in peace and find more open minds. It took a long time, but finally Guido had his epiphany, and a method for writing and reading music was born.
Victoria Bond, an American composer and conductor, has been commissioned by the Associazione Culturale Amici del Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele di Arezzo to set Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d'Arezzo to music. Scored for children's chorus and soprano soloist, accompanied by organ, the music is drawn from the actual Gregorian chant first written by Guido d'Arezzo.
On December 16, 2006, Maestro Angelo Mafucci, the artistic director of the Amici del Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele di Arezzo, will be conducting the premiere in the historic Cathedral d'Arezzo.
Susan Roth's captivating torn-paper illustrations bring Guido and his quest to life. Children of all ages will love learning about the little-known origin of the musical system we all take for granted. Above all, Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d'Arezzo sends a powerful message of perseverance through adversity and the importance of following your dreams . . . You can change the world!
Susan L. Roth has illustrated thirty-five books for children, many of which she has also written. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband.
A Conversation with Susan L. Roth
Why did you write this book?
When I found out about Guido d'Arezzo's contributions to our music legacy, I was amazed that I hadn't known about his work sooner. I then realized that relatively few people, even musically sophisticated people, have heard of him. It became my mission to share him with children and adults everywhere.
How did you become interested in music? In writing? How did the two interests merge in the form of this book?
I have studied music and loved it all my life. I began piano lessons when I was six. I still love to play. Recently I acquired a harpsichord, and I love playing it, too. Guido was so important to me when I found out about him that the first thought I had was to write about him. And I could see the musical graphics in my head as soon as I decided to write the book. I couldn't wait to start making my collages using that entire musical notation.
What do you want young readers to learn from this book?
I hope that young people can realize how universal music is to all of us. Everyone should appreciate how bereft we would all be of most music history, and music itself, too, were it not for Guido. He made it possible for music to live forever.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?
Most surprising was that one person alone, after extraordinary doggedness, was able to solve the problem of how to write music.