Tag Archives: Arthur Sullivan

Sounds Familiar

Running The Whole Gamut of Emotions is an unusual expression used to describe the full emotional range between delirious joy and abject misery. The simple musical explanation for the word ‘gamut’ is that during the 11th Century Guido d’Arezzo used letters of the Greek alphabet for the original musical scale. The lowest note in the vocal scale was called ‘gamma’ (the third letter in the Greek alphabet) and the highest was called ‘ut’. Subsequently gamma and ut came together, gamut, to describe the entire musical range. These days children use ‘doh, ray, me’ etc to sing out the musical scale and we thank the Greeks again. Can you imagine running the whole ‘doh-doh’ of emotions? I suppose Homer Simpson might. The expression was used to great ironic effect by Dorothy Parker when she described the acting of Katherine Hepburn, “She delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.”
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