Civilised pieces this week on metal culture

One of the things I utterly hate doing is reading a wikipedia article on something that I already know about. Normally, because I feel the need to ‘correct’ it, and also, I am secretly afraid of learning something about it that I didn’t know. This week, two of my disperate interests have drawn me to one of my other disparate interests. This week’s episode of Thinking Allowed, a sociology radio serial highlighting the latest research in the social sciences concerned subcultures. Adorno aside, it was on the comparative similarities between teenaged girl subcultural fascinations; and heavy metal subcultures and its internal discourse. I particularly liked the issue of gender and heavy metal being addressed. The old issue of misogyny is a long standing and conflicted discourse. In the case of black metal, however, it is by circumstance an almost entirely male endeavour. Despite this population of interest, it is largely is non-gender referential. Perhaps more can be said on this another time.

Another amusing piece I found was on the Guardian, don’t ask me why, but I follow a lot of fashion blogs. Alex Petridis has a piece concerning the trend in extreme metal T-shirts. Of course the overall crux of this article seems confused (one should not make a reference to a faux-rock band fronted by a model and death metal without being uncouth). I feel entirely confused by the presence of these two articles. The analysis by McRobbie on thinking allowed was interesting, however, the question of authenticity always comes up when it comes to a fan base. Taking a more musicological apprehension of culture is a much more fruitful approach ideologically speaking; furthermore, the elevation of music from cultural artefact to art music is something that demands analysis and something that attributes a degree of critical scrutiny that a genre of music may or may not stand up to.

I always joke that a lot of music these days are not too far away from the musicologicial refinement of the lied. After all, the lied is a populist, comforting, appeasing series of songs with formulaic and predictable structures and harmonic routes. At least Beethoven and R. Strauss wrote them well.

Michael

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