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La Divina Comedia, Inferno XVIII by Sandro Botticelli ( 1481-88) Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (Public Domain)

‘Diabolus in Musica’ The Devil Is In The Music

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Three, the Triad, is a perfect number, the number that distinguishes the Holy Trinity and the three theological virtues, of Faith, Hope and Charity. Three, in the Jewish Kabbalàh , also indicates the success of a project, the achievement of an objective. In the musical field, the Triad chord, in ancient times, was considered the manifestation of the divine Trinity and was, of course, capable of producing positive effects on the human soul, because the rhythmic ternary times were considered perfect, unlike the binary ones, which by their nature were imperfect. But also, under certain circumstances in the musical field, the number three has also assumed a ‘diabolical’ value.

Franz Liszt's use of the Tritone to suggest Hell in his Dante Sonata (1855) (Public Domain)

Franz Liszt's use of the Tritone to suggest Hell in his Dante Sonata (1855) ( Public Domain )

One can attribute a Manichaean interpretation to the musical dualism of the harmony, or disharmony of sounds, in the Tritone. Technically it is defined as the interval of increased fourth or excess fourth - between one note and another there is a distance of three tones, which also corresponds to the exact half of an octave. (Manichaeism was a major religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani in the Sasanian Empire . Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.) For this reason, by repeating Tritones cyclically, the human ear is no longer able to understand whether the interval is ascending or descending, thus generating a sort of auditory paradox, discomfort, perversion of the harmony of sounds. (In music theory, the Tritone is defined as a musical interval composed of three adjacent whole tones).

Tritone paradox example (Public Domain)

Tritone paradox example ( Public Domain )

The Perverse Triad

This deliberate subversion of the chords of the Triad - one of the major dissonances of the diatonic scale - gives rise to what is appropriately called the Perverse Triad, capable of negatively influencing the human soul so much so that some medieval writers, including Guido d'Arezzo , came to prohibit it.

Guido of Arezzo. ( Public Domain )

Guido of Arezzo. (  Public Domain  )

In 1725 the composer J.J. Fux, who had long studied the presence of Diabolus in Music, in his Gradus ad Parnassum , harshly stigmatized the use of such hellish melodic intervals even though many composers abused them to create ominous feelings of anguish, upset and pending death in the listener.

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Dr Roberto Volterri is the author of 40 books including Gli Stregoni della Musica

Top Image : La Divina Comedia, Inferno XVIII by Sandro Botticelli ( 1481-88) Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (Public Domain )

By Dr Roberto Volterri

Comments

Hi there Dr. Volterri,

I re-read my Bible you're right Isaiah chapter 14:12, The Prophet did refer to Lucifer as morning star. Oh how you have fallen o' morning star. Revelation chapter 2:28 Jesus says and I will give him the morning star. I should provide the whole verse, Revelation chapter 2:26-28.

Hey does anybody know what the name mastema mean?

The reason why I ask about this specific name it's one of Lucifer's other name. I only found out last year when I started reading The Bible Book Jubilees Free online um apparently, he's referred as the Prince mastema very important with the spelling there's some kind of dash above the alphabet E and the A too.

The Book of Jubilees got tossed out of The Bible along with Enoch and Jasher first by Papal Rome then by the Protestant Reformation Movement kept these 3, Bible Book's out again The name is mastema with a dash above the E and A.

Thanks again for reminding me about morning star honestly, I don't no where son of the morning star came from oh well.

The Aztecs believed that there Serpent god that they worshipped committed suicide and was Resurrected and became morning star from Venus. How did The Aztecs know of Venus?

Goodbye have a great day.

Thoth101's picture

Zucchini you should go back and read your Bible or atleast go to the Hebrew writing because Lucifer (in Latin, “Light-Bringing”), wasn’t intended to be a name, but is a description of ‘morning star’ and or Mars.

Hello Dr. Roberto Volterri,

What and exciting article to read I was hoping to get some idea of the Triad never even crossed my mind with musical chords come to think of in my Music Appreciation and Theatre Arts
Appreciation; I don't remember any of my teacher's mentioning, musical Triads Chordants.

Funny but your Article reminds me of the time I was 4 years old.

There was this Big King James Bible written in Old English loosely described as The King's English. By the way, typically these kind's of Bibles are a Common thing in Most, I won't say All
African American home's Big King James Bible's. That's because what happened in Slavery times in America. These Special Bible's comes with Marriage Records, Birth Records and Death Records of Family members It was instilled so Our Records would not be Lost to History.

Back to The Family Bible....

It is rather obvious that I couldn't read yet but, my mom read it to me before bed my favorite story Jonah. This Bible had something more Special between, it's page's. Pictures famous miniature size painted pictures depicting Biblical Heroes and moments in The Bible displaying Infamy such as Samson and Delilah

There was this one picture that stood out to me The Most, Lucifer and 1000 of his Follower's; as in the other Angels who had watered in Heaven because of Lucifer's lies being Cast Down to Earth, not Hell, Earth. Surprise, surprise He held a Trident in His left hand.

I guess it didn't work very well. The thing that puzzles me is how is it that supposed Sea gods, and gods that were skilled Archers all be depicted with the Triad in their hands. I'm learning as I go with Enoch an Jubilees still it does puzzle me.

Great article Dr. Volterri and look forward to reading more of them. Thank You!

Hello Dr. Roberto Volterri,

What and exciting article to read I was hoping to get some idea of the Triad never even crossed my mind with musical chords come to think of in my Music Appreciation and Theatre Arts
Appreciation; I don't remember any of my teacher's mentioning, musical Triads Chordants.

Funny but your Article reminds me of the time I was 4 years old.

There was this Big King James Bible written in Old English loosely described as The King's English. By the way, typically these kind's of Bibles are a Common thing in Most, I won't say All
African American home's Big King James Bible's. That's because what happened in Slavery times in America. These Special Bible's comes with Marriage Records, Birth Records and Death Records of Family members It was instilled so Our Records would not be Lost to History.

Back to The Family Bible....

It is rather obvious that I couldn't read yet but, my mom read it to me before bed my favorite story Jonah. This Bible had something more Special between, it's page's. Pictures famous miniature size painted pictures depicting Biblical Heroes and moments in The Bible displaying Infamy such as Samson and Delilah

There was this one picture that stood out to me The Most, Lucifer and 1000 of his Follower's; as in the other Angels who had watered in Heaven because of Lucifer's lies being Cast Down to Earth, not Hell, Earth. Surprise, surprise He held a Trident in His left hand.

I guess it didn't work very well. The thing that puzzles me is how is it that supposed Sea gods, and gods that were skilled Archers all be depicted with the Triad in their hands. I'm learning as I go with Enoch an Jubilees still it does puzzle me.

Great article Dr. Volterri and look forward to reading more of them. Thank You!

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