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PureNegativism
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:40 pm
Posts: 147
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:44 pm 
 

For some reason I've found entertainment in reading through the threads on this board about what is and isn't accepted as metal by the site and ended up asking myself a lot of questions.

For example an artist who considers themselves black metal might be rejected because the only guitar playing in their music is heavily distorted minor chord arpeggios, but had those same arpeggios patterns been tremolo picked rather than plucked singularly it may have qualified... this seems odd to me. Tremolo picking is not a guitar technique exclusive to or developed by black metal or metal musicians, just one heavily utilized.
It seems like for a riff to qualify it has to resemble the kinds of playing styles established withing the genres on already listed on the site. This seems limiting.

Then there is the issue of electric guitar distortion being a necessary component of the 'metal riff'. So if a music phrase written and performed on a distorted electric guitar that was clearly a 'metal riff' was transposed into standard notation and played by a different instrument it would no longer qualify? And so the 'metal riff' could not be defined by composition alone?
It seems like many other genres of musical are defined by composition rather than tonality. If a blues or jazz or classical piece were played on almost any instrument capable of creating tones approximating those of the original composition it would still be considered to belong to that genre.

I'm sure something like this has been proposed in the past but does anyone think it might be of benefit to the site to try and better define what constitutes a 'metal riff' through some kind of standard musical terminology?
Unfortunately I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough in music theory to even attempt to do so but I figure somebody browsing here may be. Sorry if I used any terms incorrectly or if something I said doesn't make any sense...

I'm also just curious as to what people here think of what qualities define the varieties of accepted metal riffing and how they would define them.
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TadakatsuH0nda
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:37 am
Posts: 119
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:30 am 
 

This might be of use: http://www.metal-archives.com/content/r ... #tab_metal
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Zodijackyl
Lazy Wizard

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:39 pm
Posts: 4973
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 2:56 am 
 

Metal is not something that is defined by a technical definition, and attempting to write one will result in more confusion than clarification, because if you don't get it, then a written definition of some sorts of sounds isn't going to be interpreted in the same way it is written. The screening process of bands on the site isn't based off of any sort of technical understanding or definition, it's simply a general understanding of what metal is that is mostly self-learned through great experience with metal, as well as other music.

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aloof
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:18 pm
Posts: 375
Location: In the graveyard, doing handstands
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:04 pm 
 

Spoiler: show
Image
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Last edited by Metantoine on Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
please don't post memes.

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aloof
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:18 pm
Posts: 375
Location: In the graveyard, doing handstands
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:08 pm 
 

seriously? ok, sorries... :(
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yentass
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 9:28 am
Posts: 911
Location: Israel
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:26 am 
 

PureNegativism wrote:
Then there is the issue of electric guitar distortion being a necessary component of the 'metal riff'. So if a music phrase written and performed on a distorted electric guitar that was clearly a 'metal riff' was transposed into standard notation and played by a different instrument it would no longer qualify? And so the 'metal riff' could not be defined by composition alone?
It seems like many other genres of musical are defined by composition rather than tonality. If a blues or jazz or classical piece were played on almost any instrument capable of creating tones approximating those of the original composition it would still be considered to belong to that genre.

That isn't true. You have bands like Zaraza (all instruments are sampled/synthesized a.k.a. "approximating tones"), Van Canto (drums + vocals only) and Apocalyptica (drums + celli + guest vocals only) on this site, while many metalcore, deathcore and even nu-metal bands use setups (instrumentation and/or tone) to metal ones yet are still rejected.

As for the solidification of the definition of metal - it is simply impossible. There will always be more moles than hammers to whack them with - you can't add emphasis on one aspect without detracting from another (so, for an example, if one comes up with a definition that'll explain in a clear-cut fashion why not all metalcore is acceptable - there is a good chance it will also invalidate something like drone doom as a metal genre) and there will always be stuff that would challenge that definition. Border lines will always (and only) exist where borders are drawn and all that. So the best thing one can hope for is a set of arbitrary guidelines that are enforced by people who acknowledge the fact there would always be room for debate. Which is exactly what you have on this site.
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atmaknows1
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:02 pm
Posts: 4
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:51 am 
 

So I know it's been a LONG time since this thread was started, but I came here because I had the same problem with the rules as PureNegativism. It's absolutely understandable that there is difficulty finding a definition for metal, but it does seem unusually lazy to cast off the possibility of a more solid definition, or any definition at all, just because of the inevitability of disagreement. What I mean is, it doesn't make sense simply to not try because it will be contested or cause confusion. Isn't it the aim of a site like this to provide a definitive resource to the world regarding metal bands and their activities? Plus, the criteria in the Rules and Guidelines begin with the sentence, "the site owners have a strict definition of what metal is," yet I can find no such "strict" definition, rather an extensive list of bands that they have excluded for various reasons. What is difficult is that I don't really have a basis to have reasonable disagreement with the site owners and moderators, even though for the most part I do agree (FUCK Slipknot). It all comes down to what makes a riff metal and not "mindless noodling", or what consitutes metal influence. I, personally, love the shit out of this site, and it is an incredible resource for digging through all the chaff choking up every scene and sub-genre in metal. But I think the power and veracity of the resource that is touted by many as the definitive collection of all that is metal is diminished by it's lack of ability to clearly define for itself what exactly it is defining. The symptom of this issue is in that thread where people bitch about why their band didn't make it in, like what appears to be a vicious and controversial debate about Black Crown Initiate. And I don't think it does the genre any justice to have those who would tout themselves as the experts of the music based on an extensive process of self-learning and experience to lock themselves in ivory towers of knowledge and expect everyone else to scramble around bickering about why their favorite local band got blacklisted in the guise of intelligent discussion (sometimes). This site is proof that there are both underlying and overt streams of thought that, despite the seemingly endless fragmentation of the music through sub-genre, a common, unifying thread connects all of the bands listed here, and this thread is called Metal. I think it's worth trying to give that thread some kind of definitive features, especially if it's the only reason any of us are here, trying to get points, posting reviews, making threads in the forum and getting bands that aren't here (and that we think deserve to be) put up. Or listening to the music too, I guess.

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Zodijackyl
Lazy Wizard

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:39 pm
Posts: 4973
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:03 pm 
 

atmaknows1 wrote:
Isn't it the aim of a site like this to provide a definitive resource to the world regarding metal bands and their activities?


No. We document objective facts (basic biographical info, discography, members) but we don't really cover band's activities - the site doesn't cover news and tours. Those are certainly important things for metal, but we simply can't handle them on the site, and the forums cover what people are interested in somewhat well. About being "definitive" - we don't have a mission statement nor any preferred adjectives to cover our scope, and defining "metal" is a functional restriction, not an ideological decree. A few words from the rules that explain this:

"As simple as the "must be a metal band" rule may seem, it involves a huge debate. None of us here think we're a supreme authority on all things heavy metal. However, as an encyclopedia of heavy metal, this site must draw a line somewhere. If we accepted just about anything, it wouldn't make sense; we would no longer be a "metal" archive. Because of this reality, the moderating staff decide, based on these guidelines set by the owners, on whether or not your submission is validly metal."

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Derigin
Anthropophagus

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:25 am
Posts: 2639
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:41 pm 
 

Keep in mind that giving the purpose of MA as the "definitive resource" for heavy metal is giving it too much credit and misjudging why it exists. What I mean is that when MA was started its "definition" of heavy metal was derived from the beliefs of those who started the encyclopedia. Over time other people have aligned themselves with that definition - or had already agreed with it - and so have continued working on MA and making it the "definitive resource" it is today. The only reason MA has any weight or renown among metalheads is because metalheads have given it those characteristics and believe it to be a good resource. By no means is that to say that MA's "definition" of metal is any more valid than any other definition, but that our present definition has seemed to work sufficiently enough up until now largely because it has become malleable enough to warrant metalheads to judge MA as a "definitive resource."

Malleable. That's one of the key terms for why our "definition" of metal is not as strict as this thread seems to want it to be. Subjectivity is the other one. Music is, by its nature, a subjective medium. Granted, people often generalize genres of music by common themes, however how people interpret those themes varies significantly. Likewise, it becomes difficult (if not near impossible) to create neat, contained genres of music that are completely separate from the influences or aspects of other genres. Music hybridizes and borrows so much from other music that it is no longer a question as to what specific qualities of the music define it towards a self-contained box, so much as how big a box can you create without that box losing meaning. Essentially, how far can you go to create a "theory of everything" for music - a contained "definition" of metal for example - without it losing all its meaning. This is why our definition here is broad and flexible, and isn't so nicely perfect with its explanation for what is and isn't heavy metal. It's simplified so that we can have the flexibility to apply our definition of heavy metal without it losing meaning. Maybe that is why MA has been successful in attaining a general position among many metalheads for its credibility. It might just be that we're malleable enough that more people are able to see their own definitions of heavy metal in MA's own definition for it.

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Smoking_Gnu
Chicago Favorite

Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:22 pm
Posts: 2646
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:49 am 
 

Man, someone needs to write a script that takes Zodi's 2nd paragraph and Derigin's first, then scans facebook for any mention of "MA/Metal Archives" and "elitist" in the same sentence, then autoposts the aforementioned text.
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