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Culture-specific production and performance characteristics: An interview study with ‘Teutonic’ metal producers

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Viking metal, Teutonic metal, Mesopotamian metal ‐ labels of this kind are common in fan discourse, media and academia. Whereas some research has investigated such labels and related them to the artist’s stage presentation, music videos, artwork and lyrics, there is still a lack from the perspectives of music production and performance as to how such culturally and geographically associated labels differ musically. This article explores culture-specific production and performance characteristics of Teutonic metal, focusing on how metal from Germany differed from British and US-American productions in the 1980s and 1990s, during which time metal spread to Continental Europe and German speed metal achieved an international reputation for its original interpretation of metal. The study is based on a qualitative interview design with three record producers who were crucial for the rise of German metal labels and their bands: Harris Johns for Noise Records, Siggi Bemm for Century Media and Charlie Bauerfeind for Steamhammer. The findings suggest that performances differed between bands from Germany, America and Great Britain regarding timing, rhythmic precision, ensemble synchronization and expressiveness. Likewise, production approaches varied due to distinct preferences for certain guitar amplifiers, drum tunings, microphone techniques, mixing concepts and studio acoustics. Despite such culture-specific differences, it proved difficult for the interviewed producers to identify distinguishing features. Genre conventions seem to have a stronger impact than cultural origin overall.

Keywords: Germany; Teutonic metal; culture; nation; performance; production; recording; sonic signature

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000107196059University of Huddersfield

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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