Musical Cards

the magician 07 (gaian tarot)
The Magician (Gaian Tarot)
One of the things that strikes me as interesting is that we rely solely in our visual sense in order to read cards. We see something, something that sparks a memory, an idea, a keyword. We have, however, other senses that can also trigger ideas, feelings, memories. We have hearing, taste and smell and touch. In its way, each one of them is capable of transmitting information to us. Information that we can then use to build our understanding of the reality that surrounds us.

It would, then, be interesting to build a library of sounds, smells, tastes and feelings. Something that we could also use in relation with the cards and provide us with new approaches in the way we use them.

With this in mind, I set out to study how could we translate the cards into sounds, flavors and sensations. What aromas could one choose to represent the Temperance card? Maybe vanilla: something pleasant, but not that vibrant. Something that might let us clean our palates and face whatever’s coming next. Or how would the World card feel like? Maybe like an apotheosis, an orgasm. Everything is building up to it: this moment of completion. It’s now or never. Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and move on to another story. Or perhaps you’re wondering how the Hanged Man would sound like. Maybe you’re hearing a sobbing, or perhaps, a call for help…

If you do want to go down this venue, the easiest way to start is with sounds. Amber Jayanti gave us, in her Tarot for Dummies book, a correspondence of musical scales with each of the Major Arcana:

Fool = E
Magician = E
High Priestess = G#
Empress = F#
Emperor = middle C
Hierophant = C#
Lovers = D
Chariot = D#
Strength = E
Hermit = F
Wheel of Fortune = A#
Justice = F#
Hanged Man = G#
Death = G
Temperance = G#
Devil = A
Tower = middle C
Star = A
Moon = B
Sun = D
Judgement = middle C
World = A

Even though she didn’t explain why she settled with this correspondence, she does tells us that she was taught this specific correspondence by Paul Foster Case, noted american occultist and tarotist.

However, it might prove more rewarding to start to look at musics and try to see which music or musics would trigger an image of each of the tarot cards. My first exercise was to start looking at musics not a particular set of sounds and lyrics, but as an approach to tarot. In a recent post, I’ve already mentioned how I envisioned Diamanda Galás music as appropriate to the Tower card. Now I would expand upon this, and try to connect each card to a particular music. More than trying to be objective, I was going to be subjective. To establish a personal set of sounds and musics and feels that I could also bring to the table when reading them. In time, I ended up creating a different play-list for each of the tarot cards, as I kept discovering new angles, new sounds, new musics that I could somehow relate to the cards. 

So, instead of bombarding you with all of these lists, I wanted to invite you to find a song for each of your card. Any music that you might connect with a particular card. As an example, here is one of my 22-Major Arcana tarot lists:

00 – THE FOOL: “A Fool for Love”, Sandy Rogers

01 – THE MAGICIAN: “It’s a Kind of Magic”, Queen

02 – THE HIGH PRIESTESS: “Long Black Veil”, Jonnhy Cash

03 – THE EMPRESS: “Ordena Que Te Ame”, Mundo Cão

04 – THE EMPEROR: “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”, Nina Simone

05 – THE POPE: “Die Propheten”, Das Ich

06 – THE LOVERS: “I Never Talk to Strangers”, Tom Waits and Bette Midler

Oh, Que Será”, Chico Buarque and Omara Portuondo

07 – THE CHARIOT: “Go West”, Pet Shop Boys

08 – STRENGTH: “A Culpa É da Vontade”, Humanos

09 – THE HERMIT: “Lonely Can Be Sweet”, Ursula Rucker

10 – WHEEL OF FORTUNE: “Change”, Lou Reed

11 – JUSTICE: “The Trial”, Roger Waters (with Albert Finney, Tim Curry, Marianne Faithfull, Ute Lemper, Thomas Dolby, Rundfunk Orchestra & Choir) … and can you spot who is who?? 🙂

12 – THE HANGED MAN: “Dear God, Please Help Me”, Marianne Faithfull

13 – DEATH: “Death Is Not The End”, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

14 – TEMPERANCE: “Amarcord Theme”, Nino Rota

15 – THE DEVIL: “I Put A Spell On You”, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

(or you might want to check this version by Diamanda Galás, which I find really puts a spin on things)

16 – THE TOWER: “Heaven Have Mercy”, Diamanda Galás

17 – THE STAR: “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life”, Nina Simone

18 – THE MOON: “Fallen Down Moon”, The Walkabouts

19 – THE SUN: “Here Comes The Sun”, Nina Simone

20 – JUDGEMENT: “Angel Highbury”, Alan Moore and Tim Perkins

21 – THE WORLD: “Never Ending Story”, Liamahl

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