The "music" in Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights.|
In the right hand panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights there is an interlinked series of images often referred to as the 'Hell of the Musicians'. At the base of a barbiton or other lute like instrument a book of music lies open. Also a choir of human souls led by a demon choirmaster appear to be singing the music written on the bottom of a man crushed under the barbiton. Can this this music be identified? I asked my colleague, the musicologist Joscelyn Godwin to appraise this "music". His reply leads me to understand that this is only made to look like music but has no real musical structure.
I believe it is made-up notation with no musical identity. Some of the reasons, in brief:
Another painting associated with Bosch has better depicted real music. This is the Concert in an Egg. This was painted by a later follower of Bosch, probably in the mid 16th century (1550-1575). It is presumed he was copying a painting by Bosch which has been lost as there is a provisional sketch possibly by Bosch himself. The painting is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille.
When we see the music close up, it is obviously actual playable music.
A colleague of mine has suggested that it may be a setting of 'Toutes les nuits que sans vous je me couche'. There are versions of this set by Lassus and de Crecquillon during this period.