The devil always had a special place in popular culture, but it seems like he was most interested in music. However, the first deal with the devil in popular culture is linked with the legend of Faust, a middle age ‘scientist’ who had sold his soul to the devil in order to get the unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.
However, in the modern times, the devil was most of the time connected to music.
The First One
When we say devil and music today, we might think of metal music and its satanic imagery, but the first known pact with the devil was allegedly made in 1713. The protagonist of this event was Giuseppe Tartini, a Venetian composer, and violinist. The legend says that one night Tartini had the devil appear in his dream and play him the most beautiful sonata he has ever heard. Giuseppe then tried to reproduce it right after waking up, and later called his peace ‘Violin Sonata in G minor’, but it is more popular by the name ‘The Devil’s Thrill’.
The Devil’s Violinist
Next virtuoso is probably the most widely known example of the devil bargain, Niccolo Paganini, one of the greatest violinists and composers. Not only that his compositions were very hard to master, it was also said that he had the power to possess the crowd due to his hypnotic playing. One time a spectator left Paganini’s concert because, as he claimed, he saw the devil aiding Paganini on the scene. All these claims were supported by his look, it is said that he was rather skinny, pale, sick looking man, and the fact that he sends away the priest in his deathbed convinced many that he indeed sold his soul to the devil.
Now comes Tommy Johnson, a Delta blues musician known for his eerie falsetto, and above all his remarkable guitar playing skills. Tommy’s legend goes like this: one night he went out of his hometown and gone to the Crossroads; there, it is said, he met a black man who took his guitar and tuned it. Since then Tommy was able to play whatever he wanted. That black man, of course, was the devil.
Last but not least is the man himself Robert Johnson; literally the man, the myth, the legend. Beside Paganini, this Delta blues guitarist is the most famous musician who sold his soul to the Evil One. It is said that Robert developed interest in music as a young boy but had no talent at all. Then the story goes same as Tommy’s, he was instructed to go to the Crossroads, and there he met with the devil, who tuned his guitar, played it a bit, and then returned it to Robert. Of course, after that Robert became one of the most influential and most important musicians of the whole music era. What makes Robert’s story more interesting is his work. Some of his songs can be interpreted as a description of his adventure with the devil, for example, ‘Hellhounds on my trail’ or ‘Me and the Devil Blues’.
You can believe that this is true or not, but you cannot deny the significance of the Devil figure in music over its modern history. There are more allegations on pacts with the devil such as Jimmy Page’s or some say even the whole Led Zeppelin; however it has been a long time since devil got involved in music, and for the sake of music, we hope he does it again soon.
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