Diabolus en Musiqa

Greetings and congratulations for finding your way to my blog about Music and the Occult. If you have an interest in music and the mysteries within its structures and mechanisms, then you are in the right place. Some of you may know who is behind this miscellanæ of information, for those of you who don’t, I have been involved in music for over 40 years, much of it to do with esoteric and spiritual aspects. As a working musician I have performed with quite a few artists and have been involved with several projects. My musical and spiritual life changed in 1985 when I had the opportunity to live and study with King Crimson founder, composer, and guitarist Robert Fripp, which you can read about here.

My main instrument is the guitar, however, I lend my programming and production skills (or occasionally lack of) to many of the tracks and musical soundscapes presented here in conjunction with their articles. Some of the Musiq will be background, some will be examples for the subjects discussed. There will be links to my YouTube channel ‘Diabolus en Musiqa’ and also a link to where you may stream or purchase some of my compositions used here.

Don’t forget to hit the FOLLOW button to the right so you know when a new article is uploaded, and leave a comment at the bottom of any page. Lastly, look around, enjoy your stay, and prepare yourself to enter a strange and magnificent universe of vibration, sound, and imagination!

First, what is Diabolus en Musiqa?

Musiq is a magical force of sound that is channeled and revealed by the musicians who organize it. Through Musiq the boundaries of subjective and objective reality dissolve, it inhabits the in-between space mediated between human and spirit worlds.

“Transforming our awareness of time and space, in different ways, music modifies our ‘being-in-the-world.”

Gilbert Rouget French Ethnomusicologist

During the Middle Ages in Western music the tritone was classified as a dissonant interval and avoided at all cost during composition. If you’ve heard the opening notes from the band Black Sabbath’s self titled song ‘Black Sabbath’ then you’ve heard this demonic interval.

Black Sabbath (Slight Return) by TarKhem written by Black Sabbath

Towards the end of the Renaissance era the tritone was nicknamed diabolus en musica meaning “the devil in music” by 1733 the phrase transformed into “mi against fa” (Satan in music). Later on during the Baroque and Classical eras this diabolical interval became perfectly acceptable in composition as another color on the composer’s pallet.

For those musically inclined this interval is the flatted 5th (b5). The tritone would be C F# C. This is the C Major scale C D E F G A B C (12345678) the flatted 5th is perfectly situated in the center of the diatonic scale between F and G (4th and 5th). Metaphysically speaking we have the division between the objective and our subjective universe. The world of the conscious and the unconscious mind, the World and the Underworld!

Similar to the holy Tetractys is the mysterious tritone: an augmented fourth or diminished fifth, which is neither consonant nor clearly dissonant, and in the microcosm produces the “touch of freedom”. The flatted fifth to alchemy is the “quinta essentia” (the quintessence), creating freedom and paths into new life. In the nitrogen atom during photosynthesis sunlight is transformed into chlorophyll, in other words sunshine becomes living matter, in alchemy this is represented as “the Green Lion Devouring its Tail”, it is the Word made flesh! At this juncture, the tritone represents the crucial force, the quinta essentia.

Khem is Egyptian for Black (land) it has been used as the native name for Egypt, referring to the fertile, black soil of the Nile Valley. Khem also means ‘black art’ which was practiced by the learned men of Egypt. This became known through Islam as the Black Art al Khemia. Then, the mysteries of these achievements spread to the western world as Alchemy and finally as alchemy. In India Khem refers to the knowledge of a musician.

This nickname for the Devil in Music has been used as early as the 18th century by Johann Joseph Fux in his work from 1725 ‘Gradus ad Parnassum’ and by 1733 the great composer Georg Philipp Telemann mentioned the phrase “mi contra fa”, which the ancients called ‘Satan in Music. Being the flatted 5th was considered a ‘dangerous’ interval it was avoided. Later the interval would be used as a expressive device in composition to connotate the idea of ‘Evil’. Liszt would use the tritone to suggest hell in his Dante Sonata, and French composer Camille Saint-Saëns in his scordatura for the solo violin from Danse Macabre. The violinist Giuseppe Tartini claimed that he composed his Devil’s Trill Sonata after Satan himself instructed him! Götterdämmerung is the last piece in Richard Wagner’s cycle of four music dramas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung, or The Ring for short) where the diminished fifth illustrates a scene of pagan excess and extreme.

“Why is music called the divine art, while all other arts are not so called? We may certainly see God in all arts and in all sciences, but in music alone we see God free from all forms and thoughts. In every other art there is idolatry. Every thought, every word has its form. Sound alone is free from form. Every word of poetry forms a picture in our mind. Sound alone does not make any object appear before us.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan

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