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Crossroads Clarification


sheraton

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When one goes to the Crossroads, meets the devil - he (she) takes the insturment, hands it back and the pilgrim can thereafter play the guitar is it:

 

a.) because the devil has imparted knowledge about connventional tuning EADGBE or

 

b.) becasue he (she) has retuned it to make it easier to play? (open tuning)

 

c.) ?

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I think the whole legend stems from him signing a record deal. There's a lot of reasons for this that I can't go into because it deals with race and religion, and how they were perceived in the Southern States during the early part of the 20th century.

 

Record companies are THE DEVIL!!!!

 

Waterboy moment! [biggrin]

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I'm not saying it's entirely irrelevant, but I do think it's a major error to consider the "race" angle as an especially important part of a metaphor in this case.

 

All over "the south," especially among those of lesser revenue levels and education regardless of color, added to the fundamentalist "Christian" streak is a streak of considering non-religious music as "the devil's music." Ergo, anyone stepping into the secular "popular" music world is dealing with "the devil."

 

Fiddlers in many "southern" and southeastern backwoods areas similarly were accused of making deals with the devil. The Charlie Daniels "Devil Went Down to Georgia" simply is a modern extension of a very old theme in American rural-poor based music.

 

And don't kid yourselves, "po' whaht trash" in the south (and even farther north) were no better off in most ways than their black neighbors. Those southern mountains brought a very, very hard life for many, and it's reflective in music, perhaps especially early "country" music such as reflected in "muleskinner blues." I doubt many today have any idea what was the life of a muleskinner.

 

m

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Niccolò Paganini - violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer - was believed by the straights to BE satan incarnate, the rest just thought he had sold his soul to the devil, but the girls would swoon and his playing would steal souls, and the staid would tut-tut and put him down at every turn..... plus ça change, n'est pas.

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Flatted Fifth, "The Devils Interval" (also Flatted 7th, but that doesn't get the press). It was a note that was banned by the church and therefore declared "Devils Music".

 

My theory is based on a couple things that have nothing to do with music (I'm just gonna go ahead and get into race and religion). If you watch old silent movies that were aimed at black audiences (they existed, just watch AMC late at night during February) you'll see preachers preaching about the white mans money and his money making schemes were things of the Devil, all the while he's fleecing his flock for their money. That leads me to believe that the general perception of the southern blacks was that White Mans business was that of the Devil. (assuming that art was imitating life in these silent films).

 

Couple that with the origin of the word "Honky". A "Honky" was a white man that preferred Black prostitutes. The "Honky" would pull up outside of the town limits and honk his horn to let the business girls know that they were there. They did this because segregation was so much a way of life that even driving into a black city or neighborhood was simply not done.

 

I figure a White man saw or heard about Johnson's playing, garnered a meeting with him out side of town (perhaps at a country crossroads), and signed him to a record deal. Of course, as we all know from stories about our favorite artists, record producers love to tell artist to change something about themselves in order to make them more marketable. Johnson's playing was likely different sounding after he met with the record producer, leading his friends and family to believe he'd been taught by the Devil, who gave him his record contract and fame.

 

Just a theory, though.

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Flatted Fifth, "The Devils Interval" (also Flatted 7th, but that doesn't get the press). It was a note that was banned by the church and therefore declared "Devils Music".

 

My theory is based on a couple things that have nothing to do with music (I'm just gonna go ahead and get into race and religion). If you watch old silent movies that were aimed at black audiences (they existed, just watch AMC late at night during February) you'll see preachers preaching about the white mans money and his money making schemes were things of the Devil, all the while he's fleecing his flock for their money. That leads me to believe that the general perception of the southern blacks was that White Mans business was that of the Devil. (assuming that art was imitating life in these silent films).

 

Couple that with the origin of the word "Honky". A "Honky" was a white man that preferred Black prostitutes. The "Honky" would pull up outside of the town limits and honk his horn to let the business girls know that they were there. They did this because segregation was so much a way of life that even driving into a black city or neighborhood was simply not done.

 

I figure a White man saw or heard about Johnson's playing, garnered a meeting with him out side of town (perhaps at a country crossroads), and signed him to a record deal. Of course, as we all know from stories about our favorite artists, record producers love to tell artist to change something about themselves in order to make them more marketable. Johnson's playing was likely different sounding after he met with the record producer, leading his friends and family to believe he'd been taught by the Devil, who gave him his record contract and fame.

 

Just a theory, though.

 

I'm pretty sure the tri-tone devil thing is just a myth. I don't think it was "banned from the Church". :)

 

I don't understand the point of this thread. :)

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I'm pretty sure the tri-tone devil thing is just a myth. I don't think it was "banned from the Church". :)

 

I don't understand the point of this thread. :)

 

Last first - the "purpose" (if it needs one) is to have some discussion about stuff.....

 

And first last:-

 

If ordinary people - singing music or just listening to it - could contact God, then who needed the Church? It is hard for us today to appreciate the power of the Church in all of Europe from the fourth to the early twentieth centuries. Religion and politics were one and the same thing. The Roman Church, as it evolved from about 330AD, was to have been the only path to God. This path was limited to the hierarchy that extended from the local parish priest all the way up to the bishop of Rome, who later took the title Pope. Religious control meant political control, economic control and educational control. Church leaders were the "thought police" in every aspect of society. By 800AD and the crowning of Charlemagne, the Church controlled every major political office there was.

 

In that world, anyone professing or causing anything that remotely promised a direct spiritual contact (or music that specifically delivered the possibility of such contact) was a threat to the Church. It was not the musical notes or intervals that were suppressed in and of themselves, but the experience those notes could evoke. So they "actively discouraged" it.....

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My understanding of the Crossroads legend is that the guy goes to the crossroads after midnight and meets the devil and the devil tells him that he can make the man play the guitar really well if he'll trade him his soul. The guy says "OK" and the devil plays his guitar for awhile and gives it back to him and then the man plays great. That's it.

 

Robert Johnson was thought to have done this because he got so good so fast. It only took him like one year to become really proficient. My understanding is that the "deal with the devil" part of the crossroads legend is a common African theme and that it was adapted to Robert Johnson's personal story. He was an example of somebody who made a deal with the devil. In his case the deal was made so that he could play the guitar.

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Last first - the "purpose" (if it needs one) is to have some discussion about stuff.....

 

And first last:-

 

If ordinary people - singing music or just listening to it - could contact God, then who needed the Church? It is hard for us today to appreciate the power of the Church in all of Europe from the fourth to the early twentieth centuries. Religion and politics were one and the same thing. The Roman Church, as it evolved from about 330AD, was to have been the only path to God. This path was limited to the hierarchy that extended from the local parish priest all the way up to the bishop of Rome, who later took the title Pope. Religious control meant political control, economic control and educational control. Church leaders were the "thought police" in every aspect of society. By 800AD and the crowning of Charlemagne, the Church controlled every major political office there was.

 

In that world, anyone professing or causing anything that remotely promised a direct spiritual contact (or music that specifically delivered the possibility of such contact) was a threat to the Church. It was not the musical notes or intervals that were suppressed in and of themselves, but the experience those notes could evoke. So they "actively discouraged" it.....

 

I wasn't asking for a history lesson. I know a great deal about the history of the Church. The "Devil in Music" is still a myth, at least from medieval times. From what I understand, that concept was invented in the 1700's or later, and even then it was just a novelty.

 

This is a silly discussion. :)

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Firstmeasure...

 

Ever read any of Oscar Micheaux' books or see his films? Neat stuff. Didn't think much of some sorts of preachers, either. <grin>

 

m

 

I haven't read his stuff or knowingly seen his films, but I'll have to change that. I might have to see if my library card still works.

 

I'm pretty sure the tri-tone devil thing is just a myth. I don't think it was "banned from the Church". :)

 

I don't understand the point of this thread. :)

 

Discussing the roots of legend is interesting. No other point really needed, thank you. And tell the "Witches" burnt at Salem that the Church was full of "Novel Myths".

 

My understanding of the Crossroads legend is that the guy goes to the crossroads after midnight and meets the devil and the devil tells him that he can make the man play the guitar really well if he'll trade him his soul. The guy says "OK" and the devil plays his guitar for awhile and gives it back to him and then the man plays great. That's it.

 

Robert Johnson was thought to have done this because he got so good so fast. It only took him like one year to become really proficient. My understanding is that the "deal with the devil" part of the crossroads legend is a common African theme and that it was adapted to Robert Johnson's personal story. He was an example of somebody who made a deal with the devil. In his case the deal was made so that he could play the guitar.

 

Funny thing is, I don't remember any of the "Crossroads" stories I've heard or read mentioning how he taught him to play, or even that he taught him to play anything at all. Granted I haven't really studied the Robert Johnson legend, but where does it say the Devil actually teaches him to play?

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Discussing the roots of legend is interesting. No other point really needed, thank you. And tell the "Witches" burnt at Salem that the Church was full of "Novel Myths".

 

LOL

 

The witches being burned at Salem had absolutely nothing to do with the tritone musical interval. Very dramatic though. [lol]

 

I'm fully aware of the atrocities of the Catholic Church. People were not put to death over the tritone. That's my only point here.

 

If you have any evidence to the contrary, PROVE ME WRONG.

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LOL

 

The witches being burned at Salem had absolutely nothing to do with the tritone musical interval. Very dramatic though. [lol]

 

I'm fully aware of the atrocities of the Catholic Church. People were not put to death over the tritone. That's my only point here.

 

If you have any evidence to the contrary, PROVE ME WRONG.

I said "Novel Myths" and was making a point about how religion has absolutely reacted to "Novel Myths" in a very negative way so we cannot simply dismiss any Myth or atrocity. How about you prove to me that no witch was put to death for playing the wrong music.

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I said "Novel Myths" and was making a point about how religion has absolutely reacted to "Novel Myths" in a very negative way so we cannot simply dismiss any Myth or atrocity. How about you prove to me that no witch was put to death for playing the wrong music.

 

STRONG ARGUMENT. :lol:

 

Witchcraft has a rich history. People have believed in magic and sorcery since the dawn of time. The tritone wasn't regarded as "evil" (arguably, it was never considered evil)until very modern times.

 

Witchcraft and the tritone cannot be compared.

 

And your last sentence...That's a ridiculous way to turn the argument. That's like me saying people were put to death for playing Gibson guitars. They were. Trust me. Prove to me that people weren't.

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STRONG ARGUMENT. :lol:

 

Witchcraft has a rich history. People have believed in magic and sorcery since the dawn of time. The tritone wasn't regarded as "evil" (arguably, it was never considered evil)until very modern times.

 

Witchcraft and the tritone cannot be compared.

 

And your last sentence...That's a ridiculous way to turn the argument. That's like me saying people were put to death for playing Gibson guitars. They were. Trust me. Prove to me that people weren't.

I never said the Witch trials had anything to do with the Flatted Fifth, but that you cannot dismiss anything the church did as "Novel" or simply a myth. They take novelty and myths to extremes, as proven by the Salem Witch Trials, Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, and other such historical atrocities. I only draw parallels to point out they are rationales for horrible actions, not that they both have to do with music.

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I never said the Witch trials had anything to do with the Flatted Fifth, but that you cannot dismiss anything the church did as "Novel" or simply a myth. They take novelty and myths to extremes, as proven by the Salem Witch Trials, Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, and other such historical atrocities. I only draw parallels to point out they are rationales for horrible actions, not that they both have to do with music.

 

I'm not dismissing what the Church did, because the Church never banned the tritone! That is the point I was making.

 

The Salem Witch Trials happened.

 

The Spanish Inquisition happened.

 

The Crusades happened.

 

These are all well-documented historical events. The tritone has no such history. I was simply dispelling an ignorant statement delivered as fact.

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I'm not dismissing what the Church did, because the Church never banned the tritone! That is the point I was making.

 

The Salem Witch Trials happened.

 

The Spanish Inquisition happened.

 

The Crusades happened.

 

These are all well-documented historical events. The tritone has no such history. I was simply dispelling an ignorant statement delivered as fact.

So where does the "Legend" of the tri-tone come from? Or would that be a silly discussion?

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