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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Week 17: Satanism

God can be quite a bit of a bore when it comes to having a good time, better to keep your bets on Satan for that. Satanic music has of course nothing to do with heavy metal and its offsprings; blackmetal, deathmetal and whatever. All hailing their own brand of conformity and completely missing the seductiveness, trickery and sophistication of the Black Angel. No, to get a grip on the tunes of Satan we have to go back in time. Back to the heydays of that truly satanic instrument: the violin. The voice of the Devil luring away our souls for a life in sin. Long before bluesmen started selling their souls at the crossroads the violinists had been pawning theirs for centuries. Nineteenth-century violinist Paganini even used to carry around a letter from his mother to prove his mortal origins. Not that anyone believed him anyway.

A dreary night Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) had a dream wherein he made a contract with the Devil. Whatever he wanted was granted, the Devil gave him a violin and Giuseppe heard a sonata so original and full with beauty and perfection that he never could have imagined it. Filled with such a strong emotion that he woke up and immediately gripped his violin hoping that he would remember at least some of it. But he didn´t, all that was left was the fragment of that higher perfection. Tartini called that fragment The Devils Trill, wooing that if he could ever remember the whole piece he would break his violin and forever give up music.

The Devil playing the violin for Tartini

Tartinis piece is one of the earliest classic compositions claimed to be directly inspired by Satan. As for the latter day composers the most well known is probably Carl Orff´s Carmina Burana (1937). Like Tartini, Carl was visited by the Devil in his dreams, often waking up screaming that he seen Satan. The literary inspiration for this piece was culled from Medieval poems and songs dating from between 1220 and 1250 in the ancient Styria or South Tyrol. Poetry by goliants, defrocked monks and minstrels. Poems dealing with love as well as explicit and highly sensual sexual eroticism, the beauty of nature, the earth shattering assertions of human mortality and the power of fate, drunkenness, gluttony and dicing. If this track sounds vaguely familiar to you it might be because Jerry Goldsmith used it as inspiration for his excellent 1976 soundtrack to The Omen.

13 The Devil´s Trill (Sonata in G Minor) – Giuseppe Tartini
14 O Fortuna (from Carmina Burana) – Carl Orff

Earlier posts 'Christianity Vs. Satanism', (Christianity:) Week 13 - Week 14 - Week 15 - Week 16