A 400-year-old musical score based on the sound of bees in the hive has inspired part of the first major exhibition by a leading Australian artist.

The choral piece was written by Elizabethan polymath Charles Butler, a pioneer in English beekeeping.

His four-part vocal harmony mimics a sound known as piping, which queen bees make during certain periods of their development.

Artist Angelica Mesiti has edited the score to produce her own sound installation, The Swarming Song, recorded in the University of Edinburgh’s Reid Concert Hall.

It will form part of her In the Round exhibition which opens at the university’s Talbot Rice Gallery on Friday.

Mesiti is known for her large-scale video works and major pieces on show, include three internationally acclaimed video installations.

One – Over the Air and Underground – is inspired by forms of communication in nature and uses ultra-violet light to depict how bees see the world.

She said the works examine “different ways of thinking about how information is exchanged and communication is made in other worlds outside of the human one”.

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