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Extremely Rare Knives of the 16th Century Will Teach You How to Sing


Notation Knife. ca. 1550. Artist unknown. Victoria & Albert Museum.


Notation Knives, c. 16th century, artist unknown. Fitzwilliam Museum. (Photo: (Johan Oosterman)

Extremely Rare Knives of the 16th Century Will Teach You How to Sing
It’s no longer exactly musical chairs, but this Renaissance-generation cutlery can deliver a tune at any table setting. Dating back to the 16th century, these extraordinarily uncommon knives are engraved with musical scores whole with lyrics. On one facet is a benediction that may have been sung earlier than a meal, after which a grace on the reverse facet that turned into sung after consuming. As an example, the knife underneath reads: “The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.” And the other side reads: “The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.”
These simple statements turn into something quite grand when sung. The Royal College of Music recorded the music from the V&A knife to spectacular results.
Knives with musical scores carved on the blades originate from 16th century Italy and are called notation knives. They are present in collections across the world, including these examples from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
  • Grace (Version 1)
  • Benediction (Version 1)
  • Grace (Version 2)
  • Benediction (Version 2)
h/t: (Open Culture)
(I hope this will be the last post of this kind, it’s not my thing!)

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