the devil! - he's in our music!!

September 3, 2012 6:18 PM

unsane's proposal for the sept music challenge

"DIABOLUS IN MUSICA
The Diabolus in Musica is the interval of a flattened fifth (eg C to F#). September's challenge is to record a piece of music which prominently features the Diabolus. (Note that even a regular dominant seventh chord counts, since it had the interval between the third and the flattenend seventh, for example E and Bb in the C7 chord - but hopefully we can be a bit more adventuresome than that!)"

so, if this is ok, we can post our tritone/diabolus in musica tracks with the tags mefimusicchallenge and diabolus

i'm sure that different keys are fine, as long as they have that nasty interval in them
posted by pyramid termite (24 comments total)

The devil may well be in your music, pyramid, but mine appears to contain Mr Nobby Stevens, our local gas fitter.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:08 AM on September 4, 2012


Yes, of course, write in whatever key you like - OR NO KEY AT ALL BWAHAHAA.

A bit more info about the Diabolus:

Also known as the tritone, it's just two notes played together or sequentially which are three whole tones (six frets) apart.

It's halfway between a perfect fourth (eg C - F) and a perfect fifth (eg C - G)

So C and F#, or G and C#.

It was thought to be a dangerous or dissonant combination at one time, so they called it the devil in music. Subsequently it became a staple of classical composers as part of chords which led strongly to other chords (eg dominant sevenths, G7 leading to C and so on). Then in the 20th century it became regarded as a stable interval on its own, so it didn't always have to resolve.

You find it buried in all sorts of chords. EG C7 (C, E, G, Bb) has it between E and Bb.

Cdim(C, Eb, Gb, A) has two of them (C to Gb, Eb to A) stacked.

Am6 (A, C, E, F#) has it too, and lots of others.

The Diabolus generally wants to resolve to something else, which is why chords like C7 and Cdim feel unstable. Typically it resolves 'inwards' which means the lower note moves up and the higher note moves down. So in C7, the E goes up to F and the Bb comes down to A, as it does when you play an F chord right afterwards (the standard resolution).

If you want to hear it clearly on the guitar, just play alternating E and Bb power chords (022xxx, 688XXX) and pretend you're in a metal band.
posted by unSane at 4:55 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


And no Black Sabbath covers allowed.
posted by The World Famous at 2:10 PM on September 4, 2012


I'm not likely to have anything new that I can start/finish for the challenge this month, but I use that interval a fair bit, sometimes in a more subtle fashion and sometimes a bit more overt.

Here's a track where I do a bit of both with it (hidden in chords sometimes, other times right out front in a theme):

http://soundcloud.com/phantomwest/phantom-west-07-exile-mp3
posted by chimaera at 3:39 PM on September 4, 2012


I've been wanting to do an orchestral epic metal piece for a long time. Thanks for the chance, unSane!
posted by hanoixan at 6:41 PM on September 4, 2012


Oh, I do this all the time! OK, this should finally be a challenge I can actually finish.
posted by ignignokt at 7:56 PM on September 4, 2012


A jillion bands have used that interval to great effect, but here's one of the most blatant examples.
posted by ignignokt at 8:02 PM on September 4, 2012


I would have pointed to this as one of the most well known uses of the tritone.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ha! I started watching that and I thought to myself "There's a White Man's Overbite coming, there has to be", and sure enough, 1'50".
posted by unSane at 6:07 AM on September 7, 2012


Tritones?! Ohhhhhh the humanity. What's next twelve-tone serialism YOU PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS


[challenge accepted]
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:58 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually I was thinking of suggesting counterpoint with parallel fifths but, honestly, there are limits.
posted by unSane at 10:57 AM on September 7, 2012


Definitely a fun idea - I like it.

If this does become the next challenge, is there a chance it could be extended until one month after the posting date (seeing as it's already a week into September), overlapping with next month's challenge if necessary?
posted by capricorn at 1:40 PM on September 7, 2012


Aw man. Now I really want to cover Black Sabbath...
posted by motty at 7:06 PM on September 7, 2012


Challenge completed.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:02 AM on September 8, 2012


That was great, Doleful Creature! And oddly not jarring. What sample library are you using?
posted by ignignokt at 10:09 AM on September 8, 2012


Thanks! Just picked up Symphobia's Orchestral Essentials. It's stupidly easy to use.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2012


I have a hard time utilizing melodic tritones without the song breaking into Maria. But I will try to give this a go
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:40 PM on September 13, 2012


I can't read the title of this post without hearing it in the voice of Jack Nance.

Anyway, fun challenge, thanks unSane.
posted by mubba at 7:36 PM on September 18, 2012


Hey, 12-tone serialism is so rare in the wild now that it would be fun to see it as a challenge here. :)
posted by kalapierson at 10:03 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, here’s something.
posted by mubba at 8:28 AM on September 21, 2012


That's pretty impressive, mubba, melodious and not at all dissonant!
posted by unSane at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2012


Thanks! The main theme was something I had been playing around with already, and I thought, hey, this has a passing tritone.... Then as far as the challenge was concerned, my strategy was pretty much "lean on the whole tone scale and the tritones are bound to start rolling in."
posted by mubba at 6:32 PM on September 24, 2012


And here's one that takes the devil part all too literally.
posted by chrchr at 9:32 PM on September 29, 2012


Hats off to all of you guys! I can't seem to get it together music-wise, lately. Waited until the last day of the month, woodshedded out some riff salad but couldn't get it to stick together as a song in time. OK, next month, for reals! Maybe.
posted by ignignokt at 12:27 AM on October 1, 2012


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