• Loudness, Rhythm and Environment: Analytical Issues in Extreme Metal Music

    Author(s):
    Olivia Lucas (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Subject(s):
    Ecocriticism, Extreme metal music, Music analysis, Music theory, Sound studies
    Item Type:
    Dissertation
    Institution:
    Harvard University
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6HT2GB3J
    Abstract:
    Extreme metal music, with its consummate loudness and distortion, and intransigent culture of transgressiveness, resists analysis. This dissertation embraces extreme metal’s liveliness and channels it toward a broad cultural and musical analysis, exploring avenues of loudness, rhythm and ecocriticism. The study of extreme metal opens a window on liminal auralities, allowing the listener to encounter the thresholds of listening and the sheer physicality of sound. These aspects of the extreme metal listening experience open up a broader range of issues: the effects of loudness on the body and mind, the convergent mental and physical experiences of rhythmic complexity, and the sounding out of the often troubled relationship between humans and the natural world. Built as a series of case studies grounded in moments of sonic experience, the dissertation unearths issues essential to the analysis of extreme metal music and relevant to sonic practice more generally. The introductory chapter situates extreme metal in its current context, examining both the genre’s increasing institutionalization and the turbulent aspects of its history. Chapter 1 contemplates the embodied experience of extremely loud, low frequencies via an auto-ethnographic reading of a performance by the band Sunn O))). The second case study discusses the rhythmic practices of the band Meshuggah, discovering how unexpected beginnings, rotated riffs, and shifting metrical frameworks animate multiple sites of listening pleasure. Via the divergent work of the bands Botanist and Panopticon, the final chapter studies the range of possibilities for musical environmentalism, demonstrating how extreme metal can engage both apocalyptic and nostalgic modes of ecocriticism.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    10 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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