In any other painting, a naked butt tattooed with a musical score would be the first thing you’d notice. But it’s just another detail in Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights — which explains why it’s taken someone 500 years to try to play it.
Bosch’s famous painting is a triptych that depicts heaven, earth, and hell in three parts — with plenty of horrific, surreal details. This week, a music student named Amelia at Oklahoma Christian University decided to play the score affixed to the damned body in question, revealing the tune that Bosch transcribed there around 1500.
“I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era,” she explains on Tumblr. “So yes, this is LITERALLY the 600-years-old butt song from hell.” (Bosch painted the work sometime between 1490 and 1510, which means it’s actually roughly 500 years old.)
So, what’s it sound like? Everyone’s going for their own take (listen here), but to me it sounds like a great score for a period piece about famine in 15th century Amsterdam animated by Edward Gorey. You? [Dangerous Minds; Chaos Controlled 123]