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Learning English - Words in the News
02 May, 2007 - Published 13:12 GMT
Ancient music re-created in Scotland
Rosslyn Chapel

A father and son from Edinburgh claim to have uncovered and re-created ancient music hidden in elaborate carvings in a medieval church on the outskirts of the Scottish capital. This report from Huw Williams:

Listen to the story

Rosslyn Chapel was built in the fifteenth century. Tommy Mitchell and his son Stuart say that as well as elaborate symbols, and beautifully intricate morality tales, the medieval stone-masons concealed harmonies in the patterns carved onto cubes that jut out from the arches round the altar of this ancient church.

The words are from a hymn to St John the Baptist, but the claim is that every note of the tune has been transcribed and de-coded from the stones here. The Mitchells say their suspicions were aroused by an orchestra of stone angels holding instruments, and confirmed by one showing off what they believe is a sheet of music complete with a stave and three crucial notes, which proved they'd cracked the code.

Huw Williams, BBC News, Edinburgh

Listen to the words

elaborate symbols
complex or complicated written signs

morality tales
stories that give guidance or suggestions about how we should behave

concealed harmonies
hid secret musical notes

written something (here music) by cutting into stone or brick

jut out from
stick out or protrude from

the altar
the table used in ceremonies in Christian churches or other religious buildings

transcribed and de-coded
written down and interpreted

their suspicions were aroused
they thought something was strange or out of the ordinary

a stave
the five lines and four spaces that Western music is usually written on

they'd cracked the code
they had found the meaning of the secret writing

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