Ongoing History Daily: The Devil’s Interval

There is something called a Devil’s Interval. It’s a type of chord that was made suppressed and actually made illegal by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages in very Christian parts of Europe. It had something to do with the chord’s unorthodox structure and its “demonic” sound. In other words, because it sounded evil, it was banned.

Music theory-wise, the Devil’s Interval is a tritone that spans three whole tones, like an augmented fifth. If that means nothing to you, lemme give you two examples of songs that use a Devil’s Interval—which means had this song come out in, say, 1492, the Inquisition would have paid the composer of the song a visit. There’s the theme from The Simpsons and the demonic bassline of “Parklife” from Blur.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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