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A Jam Session with the Devil

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There are so many devil's violinists these days we can't even keep track.

There are so many devil’s violinists these days we can’t even keep track.

Giuseppe Tartini was the 17th century equivalent of Slayer. He was a hard rockin’ Italian who composed a song with Satan while hiding in a monastery from an angry bishop whose daughter he’d just had his way with. We’re not making any of that up.

Though Tartini’s later life was filled with violin solos, explosions, and copious amounts of wine, his upbringing was remarkably vanilla. According to most historical sources, Tartini’s father originally wanted him to be Franciscan priest, so after an uneventful childhood, to prepare him for a life of not having sex and listening to people’s problems, Tartini Sr. sent his son to study law at the University of Padua.

Though Tartini had little interest in law, with the sole exception of the kind he could dish out himself, he did take the opportunity away from his ever-present and stupidly uncool father to teach himself how to fence. Apparently Tartini felt his future career as a priest would have been in jeopardy if he didn’t learn how to properly skewer a man’s liver with a sword. Either that or he had a vision of Assassin’s Creed 2 and wanted to prepare himself in case Ezio Auditore da Firenze came knocking.

After his education ended, Tartini begrudgingly continued on the path to becoming a priest until the second his dad died. Before his father’s body was even cold, Tartini was doing the horizontal hug with a local girl called Elisabetta Premazone. It’s noted that Tartni’s father would have never approved of this relationship due to Elizabetta’s lower social standing, proving that along with being a stern father, he was kind of an elitist dick too.

After they’d suitably annoyed God by having pre-martial sex just everywhere, Tartini and Elisabetta eloped. Which is when Tartini’s incredible knack for annoying fathers came into play once again. Just like Tartni’s father would have never had approved of him climbing inside Elisabetta night after night, Elisabetta’s father (an archbishop) was none too pleased that she’d chosen Tartini as a suitor. We get the feeling those two would have gotten along great at Tartini’s wedding in between doing shots and glaring at the couple from across the room.

Unlike Tartini’s dad, Elisabetta’s father didn’t have the common courtesy to drop dead, and instead accused Tartini of kidnapping his daughter and put a price on his head. Tartini responded by going into hiding presumably while wearing a cloak made of middle fingers. Ironically the one place of refuge Tartini could find just so happened to be a monastery, the very place he’d hoped to avoid.

To pass the time Tartini picked up a nearby violin. After a two-year, Rocky-style montage involving punching a sack full of violins on a snow-covered mountain top and dragging a heavy plough through a Russian field, Tartini was a world-class, violin virtuoso. The legend goes that when Elisabetta’s father finally tracked Tartini down, his mastery of the instrument is what convinced him to not gut Tartini on the spot.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because along with being a violin virtuoso, Tartini was a prolific composer too and during his two-year exile he composed one of the most difficult pieces of music ever written with a little help from Satan. Dubbed “The Devil’s Trill Sonata” Tartini’s masterpiece is noted as being one of the single most difficult pieces of music ever composed for the violin. Think of it as the solo from Raining Blood combined with everything Dragonforce has ever written stretched into 16 minutes of violin goodness and you’re halfway there.

According to Tartini himself, while sleeping one evening in 1713 the Devil came to him in a dream. Luckily for Tartini he was visited by a version of the Devil more in line with the Robot Devil from Futurama than anything you’re currently picturing. The Devil, rather than immediately stabbing Tartini in the eyes or something evil like that, sat at the foot of Tartini’s bed and began speaking with him. Tartini, showing off his steel-plated balls even in the dream world, took the chance to ask the devil a favor.

After piquing The King Of Hell’s interest, Tartini picked up a nearby violin that had emerged from the dream-like ether surrounding his bed and asked Lucifer if he’d mind playing something, anything for him. Mephistopheles silently took the instrument and began playing a piece of music so technically demanding and striking beautiful that the breath was ripped from Tartini’s lungs and he violently shaken awake. Without thinking Tartini picked up a piece of paper and tried to write down exactly what he’d heard.

However, Tartini insisted until his dying day that what he wrote down (“The Devil’s Trill”) was a mere shadow of what the Angel Of Darkness had played on that fateful night. According to Tartini it was the singular most brilliant piece of music he’d ever heard and he was inches away from destroying his own instrument and abandoning music forever, if it wasn’t for the fact he had no other way of making money.

Of course, you don’t have to believe that story, but we’ll put it this way. Either Tartini collaborated with the Devil and wrote literally the most metal song ever while he was IN A CHURCH! Or, he wrote one of the single most difficult and celebrated pieces of music for the violin with two years of training under his belt, IN HIS SLEEP! Either way, we think you’ll agree Tartini was a real champ.

Ahhhhhh! Clever.

Ahhhhhh! Clever.


Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.

Tartini collaborated with the devil, but Herodoros was the the Trumpeter of the Gods! He used to win Olympic events with his lungpower.

We'll toot his own horn now that he can't.

We’ll toot his own horn now that he can’t.

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