Sadly, today’s report that Ted Cruz has issued a call to ban the tritone — in music theory terms, the musical interval of augmented fourth or diminished fifth, and in conspiracy theorist terms, the dangerously alluring sound of the devil — is satirical. (Importantly, it was issued by the website Submediant, which is a satirical news outlet devoted entirely to classical music; I’ve always felt there was always something missing in my life, and now I know what it was.)
While we respect Ted Cruz’s musical sensibility for preventing him from making this recommendation — well, at least so far — we think that Jewish musical history provides him with some very serious reasons to consider doing so. A list, below.
1) “Maria” by Leonard Bernstein
“West Side Story” classic? Song of undying love? No! That yearning leap — “Maria, Maria” — that is a tritone, Ted Cruz, and it is the sound of sedition. Sedition, I say!
2) “Suite for Piano, Opus 25” by Arnold Schoenberg
An important achievement in twentieth-century classical music, this tritone-riddled piece has a) been known to cause headaches and b) is the earliest example of twelve-tone composition, which throws off the traditional system of major and minor scales and is therefore both blasphemous and confusing.
3) “The Simpsons Theme Song” by Danny Elfman
The classic opening of the Simpsons: a bright blue sky, clouds floating peacefully by, and then sweet voices sing “The Simpsons,” and it’s a tritone, and all hell breaks loose, and in at least one episode Donald Trump becomes president. Need you further evidence?
Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture intern. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @TalyaZax