Rhythmic: Writing and Singing

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Source: Rhythmic


It is a common knowledge that before the invention of the printing press, monks across various monasteries in Europe copied the books such us the holy scriptures manually through a technique called calligraphy. It has been suggested that while they were copying the books, they were also singing. The rhythm of the songs they were singing has also affected the rhythm of their writing as if they were dancing with the motion of their hands according to tune of the song being sung. The rhythmic movements of their hands were in synchronize with rhythmic counts of the song they were singing. Sometimes when I write on my journal, I also listen to Gregorian Chants, so that I could determine the accuracy of such claims. The chants have indeed determined the phase of my hand writing.

The picture above is not written by a monk who was chanting and writing in the monastery. It is a sample of a hand writing of a scribe called Poggio Bracciolini who rediscovered and reproduced a classical manuscript called  De Rerum Natura (On The Nature of Things). As a scribe in trade, Bracciolini is one of the most overlooked individual in history.

He was a book hunter and it has been suggested by Stephen Greenblatt in his work entitled The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began that Bracciolini’s discovery of a long lost book from the Classical Age has assisted us to break free from the Middle Ages. Whether true or not, I am so fascinated with Bracciolini because of his beautiful hand writing. Do you know that the font called Times New Roman is based on his hand writing? So it has been said. I wonder if he has also managed to develop a rhythmic motion when he wrote. Writing according to a certain rhythmic on his part would have been difficult given that he suffered from arthritis most of his life which makes it difficult not only to write, but to write in a certain rhythm. What an Irony!