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Considering genre in metal music

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This article considers how genre is treated in metal fan communities and metal scholarship. In identifying shortcomings in the existing literature with regard to genre definitions, it argues that musical characteristics should be the primary defining characteristics of metal subgenres. To this end, this article posits both a taxonomy for classifying metal genres and a model for analysing their characteristics. This model consists of five characteristics – pitch, timbre, form, rhythm and aesthetics – which, when combined, can elucidate the specific musical and extra-musical elements that comprise metal’s various subgenres. This provides a framework through which metal musicology and other scholarship can develop a common background and work towards concrete definitions of metal subgenres.
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Keywords: extreme metal; genre; heavy metal; metal musicology; metal studies; music analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tasmania

Publication date: March 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • 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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