Application of Theory to Heavy Metal Music
A number of theorists have attempted to apply specific theoretical constructs to different musical genres in an effort to advance the field of ethnomusicology. Casual journalists have also used the tools of their trade to explore the meaning, value, cultural causes and effects, and symbols that are employed by different genres. In the present study, Marxist theory and phenomenological theory have been identified as useful in examining the genre of heavy metal music, a musical genre whose history has been divided into two periods: pre-Kurt Cobain and post-Kurt Cobain (Moses & Kaye, 1999: H10).
While assuming that heavy metal music was dramatically changed by the emergence of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Moses and Kay (1999: H10) recognize that somewhere in the early 1990s the genre itself changed in a fundamental and significant way. However, other analysts divide heavy metal musical periods less rigidly, suggesting that over time, this genre has been fragmented, indefinable, and in flux, experiencing numerous radical transformations in which the lines between hard rock, funk, pop, rap, alternative, and metal itself have blurred, and audiences have merged (Halbersberg, 1992: HM3).
Indeed, Jim Bessman (1993: HM3) pointed out that heavy metal music has been permeated by various musical styles throughout its history. However, even though crossover between heavy metal and other genres continues, this analyst takes the position that there are fundamental elements within the genre that have remained consistent over time. To explore this issue and identify what it is about heavy metal that reflects concerns within society such as those related to power and class, race and gender, politics, and the construction of social reality, the present study was undertaken.
The next section of this report will discuss Marxist theory. Following a brief overview of Marxist theory, an applicati...