Presentation – “Sounds from the Garden: Butt Music from Hell”. Yes, that’s the title of my breakout session at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference in 2016. The link shows the slides.

The project was a Unity-based game inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, specifically the hell panel. I was the audio lead, and we ended up with over 140 individual audio assets. These included Foley & ambient effects and voice work, all created by students.

Heironymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (1500-ish) – Hell panel on right

I put together the only music cue, which is the subtitle of the presentation. I took advantage of the notation inscribed on the backside of the unfortunate soul being crushed by the lute near the left edge of the Hell panel toward the bottom, so to speak. I was not the first to transcribe the butt music, but I believe my transcription was more carefully done and authentic, as befits such a notable work.

Blow-up of plainchant notation with butt music on the right

Here’s the final tune, rendered with my attempt at a synthesized Hurdy Gurdy, the instrument from the triptych that I chose to play it. The presentation goes into some depth on this fascinating period instrument, as well as plainchant notation and Bosch’s (mis)use of it. As I implied elsewhere on this website, academic writing can be fun if it it doesn’t take itself too seriously!

Butt Music from Hell – Transcribed and rendered by Al Biles

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