Thursday, December 13, 2012


Yesterday, we listened to a bit of Miles Davis's "If I Were a Bell" from Live at the Plugged Nickel. Many people who are unversed in late post-bop, will claim that "it all sounds the same" while others will be able to recognize aesthetic variation in performances from the genre. I just Youtubed some Dillinger Escape Plan, which many might find inaccessible, although I must admit that it seemed poppy to me. I did like the video of "Milk Lizard."

So, let's go to music that is really on the edge. Person 1 is familiar with a certain genre or style, while person 2 isn't. Think about their respective phenomenologies. In general, for instance, will person 1 be able to attribute a full range of aesthetic qualities to the genre in question? Can there be (relatively) lyrical and serene death metal? Does person 1 have to know or even be aware of more facts than Person 2 while listening? What does "Getting it" involve? I'm just throwing off some ideas here, but I am really interested in questions like this. Any thoughts? Any other potentially relevant questions?


  1. I do think there can be serene death metal, it just won't be seen as such by people unfamiliar with the genre. It's not that they can't perceive the qualities, but that from their frame of reference, all death metal works have such a great difference from what they're familiar with that the differences *between* death metal works will seem insignificant. It's like someone coming in from the cold and thinking the room feels very warm, while someone who's been inside all along might feel it's actually somewhat chilly. I'm familiar with this, because I have explored some unusual musical genres, and I'll say something like, "I can listen to Ghost or Fushitsusha, but that more extreme Japanoise stuff is too weird for me", while other people would be like, "What's the difference?". It works the other way, too, though. Some of the music people have mentioned as being very challenging or inaccessible, I've listened to and thought, "That's supposed to be weird?".

  2. Ace: What would count as (close to)serene death-metal? I like your comment that people unacquainted with a genre might judge that everything the genre sounds the same. What about cases in which they recognize two works as being very different, and can even catalogue the differences at a formal level, but still don't get it. Might it be that approaching an unfamiliar work or set of works with the purpose of noting the differences between them might often lead one to "get" the piece or contrast-group better, even in the ansernce of a prior understanding of the genre?

  3. Death Metal is a pretty broad genre, and it includes fusions with other areas. Melodic Death Metal, for example, might sound more serene. I go to sleep to In Flames' Gyroscope:

    (also, Dillinger Escape Plan is not death metal - it is best labeled as mathcore, which means it has more to do with hardcore punk than it does with any metal [and that is why it might sound poppy to some])