Little Butt Music From Hell

boschHieronymus Bosch, (appr. 1450 — 1516) an Early Netherlandish painter, in various accounts was “the inventor of monsters and chimeras”  and his works as comprising “wondrous and strange fantasies often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.” It was believed that Bosch’s art was inspired by medieval heresies and obscure hermetic practices.

These days, however, Bosch often seen as a prototype medieval surrealist, and compared to Salvador Dali. That is why I love them both.

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of Bosch’s most famous works. It is a triptych with Adam and Eve in paradise on the left panel.

The triptych’s central panel is either (a) a fair warning that such unabashed debauchery won’t do you any good or (b) a dreamy delight in earthly pleasures of paradise lost — a wishful thinking.

Wikipedia article quotes American writer Peter S. Beagle who sees it as an “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty”.  Disagree about “us, voyeurs”. It’s either “him, voyeur” or “them, voyeurs” — I respectfully abstain from being included. Perfect liberty? Perhaps. Be it thus.


The Garden of Earthly Delights, Oil-on-wood panels, 220 x 389 cm, Museo del Prado in Madrid

To be fully appreciated, The Garden of Earthly Delights certainly needs to be viewed on large scale. Much larger than this:


Central Panel

Let’s disregard “erotic derangement” of the center panel, with it’s  “broad panorama of socially engaged nude figures” and turn our attention to Hell — the right panel. It depicts the torments of damnation, vestiges of god-awful hellscape.

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Fascinating as All Hell might be, the subject of this post is but a  small detail of the panel.

Fragment of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

Fragment of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

One the torments, offered a la carte in Bosch’s hell, is torture by music. Anyone whose senses were subjected to the offensive sounds of music one strongly despised, could attest to experiencing hell, Hell or HELL.

It seems that no one was paying close attention to the music, written on the damned rascal’s bottom, until recently. Here is how the butt music from Bosch’s Hell sounds:

And below is a video clip — widely available on YouTube but little heard — of the “hellish” melody’s musical arrangement .  Sounds a bit “new-agey” to my taste. The triptych, let’s be reminded,  is dating from between 1490 and 1510. Something old, something new… music from hell, Hell or HELL?


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