Theory and Analysis of Classic Heavy Metal Harmony

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Title: Theory and Analysis of Classic Heavy Metal Harmony
Author: Lilja, Esa
Contributor organization: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Institute for Art Research, Musicology
Helsingin yliopisto, humanistinen tiedekunta, taiteiden tutkimuksen laitos
Helsingfors universitet, humanistiska fakulteten, institutionen för konstforskning
Publisher: IAML Finland
Date: 2009-10-17
Language: eng
Belongs to series: Advanced Musicology - URN:ISSN:0784-0322
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: This thesis explores melodic and harmonic features of heavy metal, and while doing so, explores various methods of music analysis; their applicability and limitations regarding the study of heavy metal music. The study is built on three general hypotheses according to which 1) acoustic characteristics play a significant role for chord constructing in heavy metal, 2) heavy metal has strong ties and similarities with other Western musical styles, and 3) theories and analytical methods of Western art music may be applied to heavy metal. It seems evident that in heavy metal some chord structures appear far more frequently than others. It is suggested here that the fundamental reason for this is the use of guitar distortion effect. Subsequently, theories as to how and under what principles heavy metal is constructed need to be put under discussion; analytical models regarding the classification of consonance and dissonance and chord categorization are here revised to meet the common practices of this music. It is evident that heavy metal is not an isolated style of music; it is seen here as a cultural fusion of various musical styles. Moreover, it is suggested that the theoretical background to the construction of Western music and its analysis can offer invaluable insights to heavy metal. However, the analytical methods need to be reformed to some extent to meet the characteristics of the music. This reformation includes an accommodation of linear and functional theories that has been found rather rarely in music theory and musicology.This study looks into heavy metal harmony from the point of view of music theory and analysis; the main focal point is the era that has been called classic or traditional. This era ranges roughly from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, including bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. The study illuminates characteristics from the elementary to the complex which may be considered central to the harmonic language of heavy metal in that time period. Meanwhile, the applicability of traditional theories and methods of music analysis are discussed in the context of this music.
Subject: musiikkitiede
Rights: Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

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