What happens when music unleashes demonic forces

Demonic music and the apocalypseSeveral horror novels explore the theme of music as a gateway to the demonic. The trope of dangerous music has been a fixture since antiquity. Plato believed the Lydian mode enfeebled the mind. Musicians during the Middle Ages avoided the tritone interval—for example, C and F#—because of its dissonance and association with the devil. Genres from blues to jazz to rock to rap have been labled “devil music” and accused of furthering the downfall of civilization. The following novelists take this fantasy to the limit, and show us what happens when music actually unleashes demonic forces. Continue reading →

Charlie’s Angels meets Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom in Angels of MusicThe Phantom of the Opera has become one of the most well-recognized icons in the horror world, alongside Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, and more modern creations such as Alien. The Phantom keeps recurring in literature and film, staying alive in our imagination and spawning a host of other masked terrors like Jason, Michael Myers, and Ghostface. While most people probably know about the Phantom from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, the novel Angels of Music by Kim Newman offers an inventive reimagining of the Phantom and his habitat. I’ll get to that in a moment. Continue reading →

Explaining music royalties and other confusing revenues

Music dollar and royaltiesBefore the digital age, music presented an already complicated business for artists to understand. But the fragmentation created by the Internet has created a baffling array of rights, royalties, and revenue streams, along with innumerable organizations authorized to collect these revenues. I’ve been in the music business for a couple of decades now, releasing albums. I’m still surprised to learn things I didn’t know. This post attempts to break down the various royalties and rights, and how they are collected. If you don’t already know this—or if you think you know it (like I did) but can’t explain it in detail to someone else—you’re probably losing out on revenue. Continue reading →

Horror and the supernatural in the music of Tori Amos

Tori Amos and the supernaturalIn her music, Tori Amos often uses images that evoke horror or the supernatural. Demons, witches, magic, legends, ghosts… But trying to discern the precise meaning of these lyrics poses a problem. The lyrics paint moods and images, unconcerned by their obscurity and resistance to threads of logic. I would even say she takes a magical approach to writing words, more interested in what they conjure than in being direct or realistic. Still, one seeks to understand what the songs mean. I’ve chosen five songs to explore how Tori uses the supernatural. Continue reading →