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the complete range of a series


Tonleiter, Scala to run the whole gamut of emotion: von einem Gefühl ins andere taumeln



"Art Exhibit Runs Gamut of Emotions - Women's History Month at MU continues with an exhibition of works by female artists both from campus and from across Missouri. The art show, which is being held in the Brady Art Gallery in Brady Commons, displays artwork with many different meanings of the word "art". Everything from media to tapestry can fall under the umbrella of art in this exhibit.

( - Joy Woodson - March 7th, 2000)

Did you

Back in the 11th century, a Benedictine monk and musical reformer named Guido d'Arezzo created a system in which musical notes were designated by syllable names. His device proved to be a practical way to teach both the sight-reading of music and individual melodies.

In Guido's day, music students were taught the six tones of the hexatonic scale. When he went to name those tones, Guido started with the lowest tone recognized in medieval music theory: gamma. For ascending tones, he used the now-familiar syllables re, mi, fa, sol, and la. And ut? That syllable named the lowest note of each hexachord in the Guidonian scale. So the syllable ut could represent any of three pitches. But while ut might vary, there was only one gamma-ut.

Gradually, as its meaning was extended to include the whole range from gamma-ut to the high E, the word was also contracted to gamut. And as the medieval musical system of overlapping hexachords disappeared, gamut came to designate the compass of a given voice or instrument. Now even people who are tome deaf know gamut as a byword for "an entire range or series".

Function: noun

Etymology: Medieval Latin gamma, lowest note of a medieval scale (from Late Latin, 3rd letter of the Greek alphabet) + ut ut

Date: 15th century

1 : the whole series of recognized musical notes

2 : an entire range or series

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