This Is What a 500-Year-Old “Butt Song from Hell” Sounds Like

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 13 2014 4:48 PM

This Is What a 500-Year-Old “Butt Song from Hell” Sounds Like

the_garden_of_earthly_delights_by_bosch_high_resolution_2
Making music in Hell is a painful experience.

Detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Heironymous Bosch

When Hieronymus Bosch painted The Garden of Earthly Delights some time between the years of 1490 and 1510, the man clearly had a lot on his mind. His triptych shows a hallucinatory landscape: There is Adam and Eve, for example, and there is a man flying on the back of a bird-lion grasping a bear in its talons. The three sections of the painting, all of which are currently housed in the Prado Museum, Madrid, have captivated viewers for centuries, and this week a university student in Oklahoma found another reason to take a closer look.

Amelia, “a hard-of-hearing music and information systems double major,” posted a close-up on Tumblr of “the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell.” The figure has a musical score stenciled across both cheeks, and Amelia translated it into modern notation and made a recording.

Advertisement

So what does a 500-year-old “butt song from Hell” actually sound like? To my ears something like the creepy orgy scene soundtrack from Eyes Wide Shut—which, given the painting’s content, is oddly appropriate. But make up your own mind by listening here.

Lance Richardson is a writer based in New York. Follow him on Twitter, or visit his website.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Behold
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 2 2014 10:42 AM The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM Surge Pricing Is Not Price Gouging
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?