"when Somebody was fiddler"
Tartini's Dream (1868)
Public DomainTartini's Dream (1868) - Credit: James Marshall

“Somebody” is, of course, the devil. His love of music is well-known and his way with the fiddle is said to be particularly brilliant — so much so that the instrument is sometimes called “the devil’s box.” 

An interesting expression of the devil’s expertise in this field is The Devil’s Trill Sonata by Guiseppe Tartini. Its inspiration apparently came from a dream in which, having sold his soul to the devil, Tartini challenges him to play the fiddle, which he does with breath-taking virtuosity. On awakening, Tartini seizes his own instrument and tries to replicate the devil’s playing: the resulting sonata, he claimed, was a pale imitation. Meanwhile, the Charles Daniels Band’s The Devil went down to Georgia tells of Satan’s failed bid to win a man’s soul through a fiddle-playing contest and features a solo reputedly by the Dark Lord himself. Listen to both pieces below.