I hear the border between heavy and (other) rock musics roughly like you
do. That's why I found it interesting to hear from T. Iommi the other day
on YouTube that he had the beginnings in the same British blues-inspired
scene as all the others.
The little academic literature on heavy metal that I came across tends to
opt for a larger definition. This is a quote from the heavy metal article
in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music:
> Heavy metal probably began with Cream
> Jimi Hendrix
> Black Oak Arkansas
> Grand Funk Railroad
> and Led Zeppelin
> in the late 60s, continuing through the self-parodying Judas Priest
> and Manowar
> and flourishing with the artistic resurrection brought about by the advent
> of grunge in the early 90s and nu metal later in the decade.
In my eyes, these scholars circumvent the problem that different people
have different opinions of heavy metal is by going for a rather wide
definition that includes pretty much everything. (They did that with rock
too.) And perhaps that makes sense as an initial step to cover everything
and later look at smaller subsections of a bigger territory. However, I
haven't seen that yet.
On Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 5:32 PM, Marcia Segal <[log in to unmask]>
> Thanks, Tom. I’ll ask.
> > On Feb 19, 2016, at 5:10 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Yes, please. And thanks, Marcia! Ask her if she wants to join ARSC List
> and stage-dive into the conversation.
> > -- Tom Fine
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Marcia Segal" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Friday, February 19, 2016 4:55 PM
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Heavy metal as world music?
> > Tom,
> > With your permission I’d like to forward your thoughts to a friend (not
> on-list), who has followed heavy metal music for 30+ years and, like you,
> has wide-ranging tastes in music. If she (and you) are interested, I could
> post her comments on-list, or to you directly. Either way, I think she
> might be able to respond in an informed way.
> > Best wishes,
> > Marcia Segal
> > = = = = =
> > My opinions are my own.
> >> On Feb 19, 2016, at 1:16 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> >> One topic I'm interested in is the debate about the beginning of heavy
> metal. As I said, I peg it to England, Birmingham, Black Sabbath. The
> change from hard rock such as was practiced by Led Zeppelin to heavy metal
> was Tony Iommi's guitar tuning and tone, necessitated because he damaged
> his fingers in a metal press (Spinal Tappish now, because things turned out
> alright, but sad at the time). Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin both formed
> around the same time. Zeppelin was a natural outgrowth of blues, rock 'n'
> roll and psychedelic rock, founded by experienced studio musicians (Jimmy
> Page and John Paul Jones) who had evolved forward from skiffle music. Black
> Sabbath was formed by younger, less experienced musicians, from poor
> working class backgrounds in a grim industrial city. They definitely had
> blues-rock elements, but the darker tuning of the guitar and the occult
> themes in their songs were a different thing at the time. In my opinion,
> this was the beginning of heavy metal (which wasn't called that until
> several years later). The Rhino box set pegs it to the U.S., with
> harder-rocking psychedelic and garage bands. I think this is more the roots
> of punk music, which I believe sprang out of the industrial Midwest of the
> U.S. in the late 60's and caught on very late in England, but is often
> associated with London in the Thatcher era.
> >> At the risk of getting too academic (and always keeping in mind the
> "mock-umentary" aspect of waxing too seriously about any of this), some of
> the themes in heavy metal lyrics and its staging harkens back to Viking
> culture and rituals. So, to my thinking, it's very natural that hotbeds of
> metal would be the U.K., Scandinavia and Russia, all places where Vikings
> roamed. In the U.S., pure heavy metal bands happened later, and the biggest
> "contribution" was hair-metal in the early days of MTV. Also in the U.S.,
> there's an interesting blurring and broadening of the genre. For instance,
> is Van Halen a heavy metal band? Due to a variety of musical elements,
> staging and solo-playing mastery and flash, I'd argue yes. But David Lee
> Roth's lyrics, stage persona and general outlook are somewhat Vaudeville,
> definitely not very occult or ominous. Probably the purest metal
> forward-movers from the U.S. were Ronnie James Dio and then, a few years
> later, Metallica (the members of which were heavily influenced by punk and
> garage rock rather than older-school heavy metal). The other interesting
> thing to come out of the U.S. is the metal-rap blurring, for instance
> Anthrax "I'm The Man," the collaboration between Aerosmith (another band on
> the metal-hard rock borderline; I put early Aerosmith more in the metal
> camp than "Love In An Elevator" Aerosmith) and Run-DMC, etc. And where does
> American glam-metal-rock stuff like Kiss and Twisted Sister fit in? In the
> U.K., there are characters like the late great Lemmy, who connect metal to
> punk. There, where does a band like Arctic Monkeys, early version, fit in?
> Was it a metal band?
> >> Caveat -- I'm not trying to pigeon-hole or categorize music for any
> sort of divisive reason, just interested in drilling down to what musical,
> lyrical and cultural elements define heavy metal music. Personally, I like
> a wide variety of music so how something is described or categorized isn't
> going to effect whether I like it or not, so I don't want to put any great
> music out of the earshot of any listener based on labels and categories.
> >> -- Tom Fine
> >> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Brandon Michael Fess" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> >> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Sent: Friday, February 19, 2016 11:17 AM
> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Heavy metal as world music?
> >> There's actually a growing musicological literature on metal, in all
> its forms. I've seen an ever-growing number of journal articles being
> published in recent years, and there are now several small conferences
> dedicated to the academic study of metal. Check out the "Metal Music
> Librarians" Facebook page if you're interested in this topic - it does a
> great job of aggregating information regarding metal in academia.
> >> Brandon Fess
> >> MLIS, Syracuse University 2015
> >> (585) 703-0739
> >> ________________________________________
> >> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <
> [log in to unmask]> on behalf of Adam Jazairi <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Sent: Friday, February 19, 2016 10:23 AM
> >> To: [log in to unmask]
> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Heavy metal as world music?
> >> Well put, Tom. In my view, metal music has endless potential as a
> >> of ethnomusicological study. Folk metal, which the blog post touches on,
> >> just scratches the surface.
> >> On Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 9:51 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> Interesting blog post from the WSJ yesterday:
> >>> Here is the related article:
> >>> I don't find it "weird" that heavy metal music, attitude and culture
> >>> a global appeal today. Metal is related to punk, but probably more
> >>> acceptable because it is less overtly political. Both deal with rage,
> >>> alienation, injustice, the same theme of fighting a perceived "machine"
> >>> that goes back to Bartleby the Scrivener and back. There are many
> >>> perhaps billions, of people in this world who feel alienated,
> >>> to varying degrees and chaffed if not enraged by it. Some music
> soothes the
> >>> soul, some stokes the fires. Metal is more the latter.
> >>> -- Tom Fine
> >> --
> >> Adam Jazairi
> >> Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian
> >> Boston College University Libraries
> >> (617) 552-1404
> >> [log in to unmask]