Medieval musical memory trick used to conduct singers in Darlington town centre

The Northern Echo: Scales printed on the hand are used to control the notes sung by the Durham Scratch Choir Scales printed on the hand are used to control the notes sung by the Durham Scratch Choir

MUSIC lovers were given the chance to control a group of choral singers, using a medieval technique that sees musical scales printed on the hand.

Video artist Anton Hecht, from Newcastle, brought 40 singers to Darlington for The Singing Project, which goes back to the beginnings of musical notation when palms were used as a memory aid for choral singing, with different parts representing different sounds.

Members of the public had a map of musical notes, corresponding to the scales doh, re, me, printed on their hands which, when pressed, made the assembled choir sing that note.

The Durham Scratch Choir and Sing Darlington were among the choirs to take place in the event, which was filmed by Mr Hecht in locations around Darlington town centre.

Among the participants was a young girl who was able to conduct the choir in a rendition of London’s Burning, while more established conductor Andy Jackson led a more established choral piece.

Mr Hecht, who has produced a series of art installations in Darlington, including tango dancing in the Market Hall and pensioners dancing with trollies, said his latest project had been a success.

He said: “It’s based on the foundation of musical notation from the 14th Century, when in the days before sheet music people wrote on different bits of their hands as a visual aid when singing choral music.

“I wanted to bring that back as a tactile expression of music, which helps people learn music and work together to produce sounds.

“The art of musical notation is being lost as technology moves forward so it was nice to bring it back in this form.”

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