Show Notes

Show Notes for Episode 010

Music can be scary, even terrifying.  Certain combinations of notes induce nervousness and unease in the listener.  Musicians have known about these intervals for centuries.  They can induce tension, character, and depth into a song, and have been used in music throughout the world since before music theory was even a thing.  In modern music these intervals are the roots of jazz, blues, and rock and roll.  In the medieval European Christian church, however, religious leaders branded these intervals satanic – making them even more unsettling. 

But it’s not just tones that can make music horrifying.  There’s a long history of folk songs telling stories of real murders in graphic detail, and these murder ballads have been popular for centuries.  Music goes right to your emotions, which makes it a fabulous way to induce horror.  In this episode I’ll talk about the “devil’s tone,” murder ballads, and other tricks of recorded music that induced horror hysteria over the years – some of it imagined, and some of it very real.


Mystery Plays

Last Judgement

Essentials of Music Theory by Carl Edward Gardner

Professor John Deathridge, King Edward Professor of Music, King’s College London

Giuseppe Tartini’s “The Devil’s Trill Sonata”

Richard Wagner


Murder Ballads

“Pretty Polly”

The Twa Sisters

Tom Dooley

Folsom Prison Blues

Mack the Knife

Stagger Lee

Jazz as the Devil’s Music

Screaming Jay Hawkins

I Put a Spell on You

Yesterday and Today


“Paul is Dead” conspiracy

The White Album

Revolution 9

I’m So Tired

“Helter Skelter” and Charles Manson

Aleister Crowley – “Magick, Book 4” (1913)

“Stairway to Heaven” Backmasking controversy

Black Sabbath (movie)

Black Sabbath (band)

Categories: Show Notes

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.