"The Devil in Music". The Symbol of "Evil" in the History of Western Music

Variant title

“Diabolus in Musica”. Il simbolo del “male” nella storia della musica occidentale


The history of Western music, from its beginnings to the present day, has been marked by axiological prescriptions that have conditioned its evolution. Among the-se, the notion of right or wrong, Good and Evil, is particularly well-known, and it has taken on different meanings and forms over the ages. Since Catholicism has permeated the history of music probably more than any other institution, here too the concept of Good and Evil has been transfigured, for example, into the antithesis be-tween God and the Devil. However, the “diabolus in musica” has not remained un-changed over time, and has come to take the form of dissonance, of Satan himself, which can become a subliminal message. By examining the history of the concept of Evil in Western music, we can see that the dualism between the rational and irra-tional has been transfigured over the centuries, while nevertheless remaining a gen-erative and creative principle of human beings.

Article history

Received 01 November 2020. Revised 27 November 2020. Accepted 09 December 2020. Published online 20 December 2020




Italian (it)


Emanuele RaganatoUniversity of Salento in Lecce


Orbis Idearum Volume 8, Issue 2 (2020), pp. 69-82
Regular Issue