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Metal, classical, ambient: an unholy trinity

Metal, classical, ambient: an unholy trinity
August 25, 2011, 04:41:50 AM
* Song structure is poetic-narrative, defines what the content does. Rock is the other way around: take a weird riff, put it in standard song structure.
* Progressive-ish leanings.
* Tendency toward the bombastic, epic, mystical and aggressive
* Decreased focus on the individual or individual musicians
* Tend to take a mytho-historical perspective

I'm sorry but i'm pretty lost when you guys get more in-depth describing this music. What would you recommend someone who wants catch up?

Ask direct questions if you don't understand something (terminology, sense, whatever).  Otherwise, just listen to the music with a view to being able to point out these aspects in individual works.  Song structure is an easy one to work out - where does the song start, where does it go, and what kind(s) of pattern(s) do its integral parts form in the accomplishment of its goal?  When you get into "decreased focus on the individual" and "mytho-historical perspective", it gets a bit trickier, but it's all there in the music in the end.

1. Go here and get #8

http://www.anus.com/metal/about/metal/classical-music-for-metal-fans/

2. Tangerine Dream - Phaedra

3. Pick some more complex metal songs

a. Burzum - My Journey to the Stars
b. Metallica - Orion
c. all of Incantation's first album

Now listen to these and see what you can find in common.

Dummies will focus on a riff and be like, "Whoah, that's just an E chord with a chromatic fill!" and neglect its larger role in a song that fits 30 riffs together seamlessly, where the average song has 3-5 disjointed riff changes.

* Song structure is poetic-narrative, defines what the content does. Rock is the other way around: take a weird riff, put it in standard song structure.
* Progressive-ish leanings.
* Tendency toward the bombastic, epic, mystical and aggressive
* Decreased focus on the individual or individual musicians
* Tend to take a mytho-historical perspective

If one could claim that these are the higher aims of all three of these music genres, is it only the methods by which they attain them the way the genres are distinguished? What exactly differentiates their methods? After recognizing their similarities, I think the next step should to identify differences that go beyond such things as instrumentation (Burzum, Brahms, and Tangerine Dream are very easy to distinguish as metal / classical / ambient by cues such as distorted guitar / orchestra / electronic sounds.). Or are you claiming that such differences don't exist?

* Song structure is poetic-narrative, defines what the content does. Rock is the other way around: take a weird riff, put it in standard song structure.
* Progressive-ish leanings.
* Tendency toward the bombastic, epic, mystical and aggressive
* Decreased focus on the individual or individual musicians
* Tend to take a mytho-historical perspective

If one could claim that these are the higher aims of all three of these music genres, is it only the methods by which they attain them the way the genres are distinguished? What exactly differentiates their methods? After recognizing their similarities, I think the next step should to identify differences that go beyond such things as instrumentation (Burzum, Brahms, and Tangerine Dream are very easy to distinguish as metal / classical / ambient by cues such as distorted guitar / orchestra / electronic sounds.). Or are you claiming that such differences don't exist?

Yes, instrumentation is a means to an end. Each of these 'genres' aim for eternal truths and even take roughly the same course to achieve that (within the basic confines of the instrumentation/discipline). What's interesting is how metal gravitates to classical and ambient moreso than the other, I mean it's unlikely many purely classical listeners would see the resemblance in metal. The difference is metal is a living genre and has room for growth.

It seems like when people say "classical" on this forum they mean German romantic music, this seems to be confirmed by the first post.  A lot of classical music from other eras and cultures does not fit this mould. 

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It seems like when people say "classical" on this forum they mean German romantic music, this seems to be confirmed by the first post.  A lot of classical music from other eras and cultures does not fit this mould. 

Charcteristics in the first post are typicalities, not strict requirements.
German Romanticism is arguably the best thing that ever happened to the world; a good point of reference.

It seems like when people say "classical" on this forum they mean German romantic music, this seems to be confirmed by the first post.  A lot of classical music from other eras and cultures does not fit this mould. 

Charcteristics in the first post are typicalities, not strict requirements.
German Romanticism is arguably the best thing that ever happened to the world; a good point of reference.

No, it's a cultural preference of this website, a valid one certainly, but hardly indicative of any kind of intellectual supremacy.  The excesses of 19th century German art and the direction in which their culture developed prove that there were flaws in its approach.  The further you travel along the axis of German romanticism, the further its ideals are removed from reality.  In Haydn rational thought and passion are balanced, in Beethoven the ideal shatters logic and reason, which is both brilliant and dangerous.  It is easy to see how Hitler was a child of this mode of thought, he had a grand vision, but for it to be carried out successfully he needed a more balanced approach, this was lacking in late 19th, early 20th century German thought.  If German romanticism was indeed "the best thing that ever happened to the world" the Nazis would not, could not, have failed.

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The excesses of 19th century German art and the direction in which their culture developed prove that there were flaws in its approach.
The further you travel along the axis of German romanticism, the further its ideals are removed from reality.

Let's not judge an artistic movement by it's sunset excesses; no school or era is immune to entropy.
Indeed we see in Romanticism the conflict between idealization of reality as in: supercharged reality becomes the ideal (Beethoven 6) vs. rejection of reality in favor of fantasy ideals (Beethoven 9).

It is easy to see how Hitler was a child of this mode of thought, he had a grand vision, but for it to be carried out successfully he needed a more balanced approach, this was lacking in late 19th, early 20th century German thought.  If German romanticism was indeed "the best thing that ever happened to the world" the Nazis would not, could not, have failed.

I like to regard Hitler as a man against time: coming to power 15 years after WW1, there wasn't much Romanticist spirit left for him to work with besides his own personal re-constructionist delusions. He went on to build an empire on traditionalism and ressentiment; a house of cards that featured elements of Romanticist decadence, but didn't fall apart because of them.

We judge metal by the standard of HLTO; it is probably the greatest achievement in metal. The works of Schubert cs. are it's equivalent to classical/music/art.

We judge metal by the standard of HLTO; it is probably the greatest achievement in metal. The works of Schubert cs. are it's equivalent to classical/music/art.

No, you judge metal by that standard. If that's what you meant, then I sense this is a soft way of saying that Burzum is the bench mark of all metal. The problem with a claim like that, and the others you've made, is not that it's controversial, it's that you don't substantiate it. To go on and say that Schubert is its equivalent in classical is, I think, demonstrably preposterous.

Compositionally, it can be demonstrated that their techniques and goals differed considerably, and that the resultant product did also. Consider for example Schubert's interest in relatively local events, small themes and catchy tunes, repeating them largely whole sale, even in works typically associated with variation technique (sonata form, ex. symphony #2 1st mvt.) This is in contrast to Burzum's focus on relatively global aspects of compositional design, as for example in the album you mentioned Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, where the number of riffs per song exceed the average for a black metal band by far. While you may point to "Tomhet" as an example of Varg's emphasis on local repetition, its lineage is from 70's and 80's synth bands, who in turn were influenced by the early post-war minimalists like Morton Feldman and Steve Reich, who were themselves reacting against models of composition that Schubert typifies.

Ideologically and personally, they were also nearly total opposites. Schubert was a savvy cosmopolitan city dweller, who held swanky cabaret parties at his house for the bohemian strata of Vienna. He was also likely a homosexual, and died of syphilis. Varg Vikernes is an unrepentant radical traditionalist, references his own introversion and even anti-socialism in interviews, and lives on a farm in the countryside.

Or did you mean "equivalent in quality", and not spirit? You've yet to show how either match up to any standard model of "quality" as such, yet to define that model, and yet to show how their relative levels of quality are not only equivalent, but in fact the highest(!).

I invite you to. Otherwise, how can we even react to statements like these?

We judge metal by the standard of HLTO; it is probably the greatest achievement in metal. The works of Schubert cs. are it's equivalent to classical/music/art.
No, you judge metal by that standard...
....how can we even react to statements like these?
Start by not over-reacting. And did he misuse it's/its? Bastard! Bastard! Bastard!

There are at least a couple of propagandists around here whose goal it is to represent their ideas in the simplest way possible. After you've been around here a while you can see which general idea is being invoked under the specifics:

We judge [a kind of art] by the standard of [the best examples of that kind of art*].

*some of which may be disputed but there is a general consensus
Reapply the above to whichever context. If it's trying to accomplish what Burzum was trying to accomplish, then compare it to Burzum. It wouldn't make sense to compare a new death metal or thrash album to HLTO.

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Frankly JJFF, your statement was kind of obtuse and therefore not every useful. When amongst friends, I think it's better to clearly communicate ideas than write slogans.

It seems like when people say "classical" on this forum they mean German romantic music, this seems to be confirmed by the first post.  A lot of classical music from other eras and cultures does not fit this mould. 

Horse shit.

All classical comes from that origin, and this site clearly endorses a wide range of Germans, Italians, Nords and others.

If your panties are in a knot because it doesn't endorse the Russians, deal with it -- that's pop music.

If your panties are in a knot because it doesn't endorse the Russians, deal with it -- that's pop music.

Dammit, you beat me to it :p

It seems like when people say "classical" on this forum they mean German romantic music, this seems to be confirmed by the first post.  A lot of classical music from other eras and cultures does not fit this mould. 

Horse shit.

All classical comes from that origin, and this site clearly endorses a wide range of Germans, Italians, Nords and others.

If your panties are in a knot because it doesn't endorse the Russians, deal with it -- that's pop music.

It was only a semantic question.  The description in the original post does seem to refer most directly to Romantic music (which is quintessentially Germanic in spirit even though it spread to other parts of Europe), which is closer in spirit to metal than other classical music.  The classical music of other cultures, and other eras, often places emphasis on other qualities than those outlined in the original post.