Sitting at the piano in the Adams Recital Hall at Oklahoma Christian University, honors student Amelia Hamrick performed a 27-second piece of music Friday that she discovered on a more than 500-year-old painting.
And if that wasn't fascinating enough, the sheet music wasn't simply written on paper but across the posterior of one of the painting's inhabitants.
After learning about the painting, Hieronymus Bosch's “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” in a humanities class last year, Hamrick was infatuated with it, looking at it from time to time.
“It's kind of like a 500-year-old ‘Where's Waldo,'” Hamrick said. The painting is a triptych — broken up into three sections — depicting God with Adam and Eve, debauchery on Earth and lastly hell.
After viewing the painting again with a friend on Tuesday night, they noticed the backside with the musical notes. Hamrick spent a half-hour transcribing it into modern notation, and then posted the recording on her blog where it began to get a lot of traffic; probably because of the unofficial name she gave the song.
“I feel like ‘The 500-Year-Old Butt Song from hell' is a pretty funny name, but it's not the most academic,” she said. “That's literally what it is, but in retrospect, I probably should have chosen a little more dignified of a name.”
OC officials think Hamrick has done something special. In a news release by the university, Hamrick “appears to have unlocked a 500-year-old musical mystery.”
Hamrick still is pondering an official name for the song, as well as looking for more pieces of hidden music in Bosch's paintings.
She doesn't know what the song means or what it could symbolize, but she wants to continue researching the work of art.
The next thing she plans to transcribe is a book with sheet music in it actually located in the same painting right next to the musical rear end.
Hamrick is currently a junior at OC double-majoring in music and information sciences.
She hopes to become a librarian like her parents, who both received music degrees from OC.
Music has been and always will be a great passion for Hamrick despite her reverse-slope hearing loss.
This basically means that she can hear high-pitched sounds normally, if not better than most, and her low-pitched hearing isn't as strong.
Ironically though, Hamrick's main instruments, the baritone, bass trombone and tuba, are all low-sounding.
“I wonder sometimes if music sounds different to me than it does to other people, but I still love it,” she said.