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Modern singers perform musical scores engraved on 16th century knives

Talk about some cutting-edge tunes. The Royal College of Music in London is going medieval with a few-hundred-year throwback.

Instead of following typical sheets of music, they’re reading it off antique Italian cutlery engraved with song for before and after meals.

“Each knife represents one part for a singer. So, a complete set of knives actually come together to create a harmonious chorus. Fittingly, one side contains a statement of grace, and the other a benediction to be sung at the end of the meal,” writes Jessica Stewart.

“The grace reads, ‘The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.’ On the opposite side of the blade, the benediction states: ‘The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.’”

“These 16th-century knives are now scattered in museum collections around the world, including examples at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

“Known as notation knives, Kirstin Kennedy, a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, notes that we can’t be entirely certain how they were used, though the form gives us some ideas. That collection’s example has a sharp edge, which would imply its use in cutting meat, yet its width suggests that it may have been used to present slices of meat to diners,” Stewart writes.

Well, that sounds appetising. We just hope the choir doesn’t butcher these bars, get it? Sorry. Seriously, though, what a one-of-a-kind chance it must be to perform music found on such a unique medium.

Click the via link below to listen to some recordings!

Via My Modern Met

Notation Knives

About the author

Filipino writer who calls the road home, eager to tell the stories of the world—from sea to summit, small towns to big cities, cultures old and new. Enjoys drinking IPAs while watching his favorite sports teams lose. Minimalist.

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