- Black Sabbath (song)
Name =Black Sabbath
Album =Black Sabbath
February 13 1970(UK) June 1 1970(U.S.)
Genre =Heavy metal
Label =Vertigo (UK)
Warner Bros. Records(US)
Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward
next ="The Wizard"
At concerts, Ozzy Osbourne often tells the story of how the band changed its name. In the
VH1documentary "", he says, "Before we were Black Sabbath we were a band called Earth, when one day Geezer noted how people pay money to see scary movies so we should try writing scary music. So we changed our band name to Black Sabbath." (There was another contemporary band called Earth, playing a different type of music, and "Black Sabbath" is a 1963 movie featuring Boris Karloff).
The song appears to be about the protagonist facing
Satanduring the Apocalypse. The protagonist is Satan's "chosen one," and seems paralyzed with fear. Along with " N.I.B.," this song added to the perception of the general public that the band members were devil worshippers (which the band has always denied).
According to the band, the song was inspired by an experience that Geezer Butler related to Ozzy Osbourne. In the days of Earth, Geezer painted his apartment matte black and placed several inverted crucifixes on the walls. Then, one day, Ozzy brought round a book about witchcraft, which Geezer became extremely fascinated by. One night, he read the book and placed the book on a shelf before going asleep. When he woke up, a large black figure stood in front of him, staring at Butler while he as he said, "crapped myself." After the figure disappeared, Butler ran to check out the book, only to find that the book was gone...He then told Ozzy, who wrote the lyrics to what would become Black Sabbath: "What is this that stands before me? Figure in black which points at me".
riffis constructed with a harmonic progression including an interval of tritone, also known as an augmented fourth. That interval was banned from medieval ecclesiastical singing because of its dissonantquality, which led monks to call it "diabolus in musica"—"the devil in music." [ The first explicit prohibition of that interval seems to occur with "the development of Guido of Arezzo's Hexacordal system which made B flat a diatonic note, namely as the fourth degree of the hexachordal on F. From then until the end of Renaissance the tritone, nicknamed the "diabolus in musica" was regarded as an unstable interval and rejected as a consonance". (Sadie, Stanley (1980). "Tritone" in "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians" (1st ed.). MacMillan, pp.154-155 ISBN 0-333-23111-2) "It seems first to have been designated as a 'dangerous' interval when Guido of Arezzo developed his system of hexachords and with the introduction of B flat as a diatonic note, at much the same time acquiring its nickname of 'Diabolus in Musica' ('the devil in music')"." (Arnold, Denis (1983) «Tritone» in "The New Oxford Companion to Music", Volume 1: A-J. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-311316-3).But later in history with the rise of the Baroque and Classical music era, that interval came to be perfectly accepted, but yet was used in a specific controlled way. It's only in the Romantism and modern classical music that composers started to use it freely and to exploit the evil connotations which are culturally associated to it.] Because of that original symbolic association, it came to be heard in Western cultural convention as "evil". Today the interval continues to suggest an "oppressive", "scary", or "evil" sound. Heavy metal has made extensive use of "diabolus in musica" because of these connotative qualities and this riff is one of the most famous example of its use in heavy metal. The "Black Sabbath" song was one of the earliest examples in heavy metal to make use of that interval.
This part of the song was sampled on
Ice T's song "Midnight" on the "" LP.
Black Sabbath is used as the opening track on both of the band's greatest hits ("
We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll" and ') and is a regular installment of their live shows. A video for it exists and can be found on the ' DVD.
A version of this song from Black Sabbath's first demo exists on the Ozzy Osbourne compilation album "The Ozzman Cometh". The song has an extra verse with additional vocals from Ozzy, right before the bridge into the fast part of the song. This song is a playable song in
In 1994, the band
Type O Negativerecorded a version of the song for the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black.
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