Heavy metal (often referred to as metal) is a genre of rock music[1] that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and in the United States.[2]With roots in blues rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are generally associated with masculinity and machismo.[3]

The first heavy metal bands such as Led ZeppelinDeep Purple and Black Sabbath attracted large audiences, though they were often derided by critics, a status common throughout the history of the genre. In the mid-1970s Judas Priest helped spur the genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence;[4][5] Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as "metalheads" or "headbangers".

During the 1980s, glam metal became a commercial force with groups like Mötley Crüe and PoisonUnderground scenes produced an array of more extreme, aggressive styles:thrash metal broke into the mainstream with bands such as MetallicaMegadethSlayer, and Anthrax, while other styles of the most extreme subgenres of metal like death metaland black metal remain subcultural phenomena. Since the mid-1990s, popular styles such as nu metal, which often incorporates elements of grunge and hip hop; and metalcore, which blends extreme metal with hardcore punk, have further expanded the definition of the genre


Musical language Edit

[edit]Rhythm and tempoEdit

The rhythm in metal songs is emphatic, with deliberate stresses. Weinstein observes that the wide array of sonic effects available to metal drummers enables the "rhythmic pattern to take on a complexity within its elemental drive and insistency."[11] In many heavy metal songs, the main groove is characterized by short, two-note or three-note rhythmic figures—generally made up of 8th or 16th notes. These rhythmic figures are usually performed with a staccato attack created by using a palm-muted technique on the rhythm guitar.[18]Edit

[1][2]An example of a rhythmic pattern used in heavy metal

Brief, abrupt, and detached rhythmic cells are joined into rhythmic phrases with a distinctive, often jerky texture. These phrases are used to create rhythmic accompaniment and melodic figures called riffs, which help to establish thematic hooks. Heavy metal songs also use longer rhythmic figures such as whole note- or dotted quarter note-length chords in slow-tempo power ballads. The tempos in early heavy metal music tended to be "slow, even ponderous."[11] By the late 1970s, however, metal bands were employing a wide variety of tempos. In the 2000s decade, metal tempos range from slow ballad tempos (quarter note = 60 beats per minute) to extremely fast blast beat tempos (quarter note = 350 beats per minute)

One of the signatures of the genre is the guitar power chord.[19] In technical terms, the power chord is relatively simple: it involves just one main interval, generally the perfect fifth, though an octave may be added as a doubling of the root. Although the perfect fifth interval is the most common basis for the power chord,[20] power chords are also based on different intervals such as the minor third,major thirdperfect fourthdiminished fifth, or minor sixth.[21] Most power chords are also played with a consistent finger arrangement that can be slid easily up and down the fretboard.


[edit]Typical harmonic structuresEdit

Heavy metal is usually based on riffs created with three main harmonic traits: modal scale progressions, tritone and chromatic progressions, and the use of pedal points. Traditional heavy metal tends to employ modal scales, in particular the Aeolian and Phrygian modes.[23] Harmonically speaking, this means the genre typically incorporates modal chord progressions such as the Aeolian progressions I-VI-VII, I-VII-(VI), or I-VI-IV-VII and Phrygian progressions implying the relation between I and ♭II (I-♭II-I, I-♭II-III, or I-♭II-VII for example). Tense-sounding chromatic or tritone relationships are used in a number of metal chord progressions.[24][25]

The tritone, an interval spanning three whole tones—such as C and F#—was a forbidden dissonance in medieval ecclesiastical singing, which led monks to call it diabolus in musica—"the devil in music."[26] Because of that original symbolic association, it came to be heard in Western cultural convention as "evil". Heavy metal has made extensive use of the tritone in guitar solos and riffs, such as in the beginning of "Black Sabbath".

Heavy metal songs often make extensive use of pedal point as a harmonic basis. A pedal point is a sustained tone, typically in the bass range, during which at least one foreign (i.e., dissonant) harmony is sounded in the other parts.[27]

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.