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IdiotFlesh
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:05 am
Posts: 1015
Location: New Hampshire
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:20 pm 
 

Is there anything out there? I'm doing my undergrad for music right now, and thinking about getting on track with my university's theory and composition degree. I don't have all the details of our program yet, but I'm fairly certain research is a component, so I'm thinking of possibly bringing metal into academic study. For instance, I can tell you, as can a lot of guitar players I'm sure, from listening to a lot of thrash metal and death metal that it's common for riffs to fit into minor, phrygian, locrian, or altered scales. What research if any is out there that backs up these claims? All I have are my ears for that one, but if nothing has been published, I think I would try to transcribe as much metal into musical notation as possible and do some statistical analysis on stuff like that. It might be cool too if I tried to look into how classical music influences metal. Any tips?

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FearTheNome
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:41 am
Posts: 372
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:44 pm 
 

Most metal musicians know little/no theory beyond a few scales and write their stuff by ear. It's fine to do some kind of analysis for your classwork, but don't make the mistake of thinking it's on purpose. A HUGE fraction of songs are in whatever minor key the guitar's low E string is tuned to. A lot of death metal is just chromatic.

Also, despite what people say, I think classical music has no influence on (most) metal. I guess there's the shred people that like to use "classical" sounding scales but compositionally, it's got nothing in common. And there's the handful of bands where the writers are music geeks themselves, I suppose, but they've got limited actual influence in the genre as a whole.

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AppleQueso
Veteran

Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:02 am
Posts: 2528
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:55 pm 
 

FearTheNome wrote:
Also, despite what people say, I think classical music has no influence on (most) metal. I guess there's the shred people that like to use "classical" sounding scales but compositionally, it's got nothing in common. And there's the handful of bands where the writers are music geeks themselves, I suppose, but they've got limited actual influence in the genre as a whole.

Maybe not so much classical, but many metal bands have riffs inspired by film scores, especially horror films, so in a way that's kinda a loose, indirect influence.

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Hayisforhorses
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:47 am
Posts: 527
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:13 am 
 

I aint found much academic study on metal composition/compositional practice (most academic study seems to be primarily on sociological topics) but there are a couple of articles i have come across online:

Death Metal Tonality and the Act of Listening
Harris M. Berger
Popular Music, Vol. 18, No. 2 (May, 1999), pp. 161-178

Re-casting Metal: Rhythm and Meter in the Music of Meshuggah
JONATHAN PIESLAK
Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 219-245 - Unless you love Meshuggah maybe skip this one.

Eruptions: Heavy Metal Appropriations of Classical Virtuosity
Robert Walser
Popular Music, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Oct., 1992), pp. 263-308

Characteristics of Heavy Metal Chord Structures - Their Acoustic and Modal Construction, and Relation to Modal and Tonal Context
Esa Lilja

Also interviews with bands sometimes get a semi-decent response on writing practice but the answers are often along the lines of intuition over theory.
_________________
Metal reviews/collection:
http://devouredbyvegans.blogspot.co.uk/

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IdiotFlesh
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:05 am
Posts: 1015
Location: New Hampshire
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:40 pm 
 

FearTheNome wrote:
Most metal musicians know little/no theory beyond a few scales and write their stuff by ear. It's fine to do some kind of analysis for your classwork, but don't make the mistake of thinking it's on purpose. A HUGE fraction of songs are in whatever minor key the guitar's low E string is tuned to. A lot of death metal is just chromatic.

Also, despite what people say, I think classical music has no influence on (most) metal. I guess there's the shred people that like to use "classical" sounding scales but compositionally, it's got nothing in common. And there's the handful of bands where the writers are music geeks themselves, I suppose, but they've got limited actual influence in the genre as a whole.


I do take this into account. It doesn't distract from the fact that there are common musical elements between various metal bands that made the music identifiable to the fans. We document the musical qualities of musics that do not come from notation all the time. Folk songs for example. Traditional folk songs are passed down and taught from person to person, and the documentation of the music through notation is mostly done after the fact by musicologists. I just think it would be cool to get some metal music on paper and maybe write about it.

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elf48687789
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:03 pm
Posts: 1634
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:12 am 
 

Classical influence doesn't necessarily mean the player can sight read and studies classical scores, but someone more or less self-taught can also play classical-sounding stuff if they know basic scales.

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hansgrinder
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 1:43 pm
Posts: 66
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:45 pm 
 

your university should have access to a good number of online scholarly databases that you can look in (JSTOR/EBSCOHost/etc). JSTOR has access to a lot of musicological journals, so you should be able to dig something up. the scholarly work on metal is definitely limited, but it's there. unfortunately, most of what i've encountered has been more in the history/sociology/psychology vein, but there's definitely some musicology stuff out there as well. someone mentioned the eruptions piece by robert walser which sounds about up your alley, but he focuses a lot on van halen in that particular article. i would recommend his book runnin' with the devil, though it isn't specifically focused on composition.

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