For thousands of years music has been a major highlight of every culture around the world. Music has been used in diverse ways, ranging from worship to gods, holiday celebrations, to even national identity as in the case of national anthems. Music is without a doubt, man s best friend. It is present in every scenario of human life. It can be heard in the house, in the car, at work, at the store, at church, even to the extent that it is used in the bathroom. Its emotional influence in the lives of people has been enormous, resulting in desires for glory, love, peace, unity and many other aspects of life.
Over the years a wide variety of categories have emerged in the musical world ranging from symphonies to heavy metal. Excuse me, Heavy metal? Can every style of music that has been categorized be regarded as true music? One of the most controversial issues regarding music is whether or not Heavy Metal can be considered true music. From my perspective and that of many citizens, heavy metal is nothing but an insulting, loud, and pointless arrangement of instruments and vocals. It should not be considered music for it fails to meet the criterion that is to be met when deciding whether something should fall into this category.
First, let us turn to the definition of the word Music . What is Music? According to the definition provided by the Oxford English Dictionary (126). This leads us to two other questions; what is harmony? And what do we mean by expression of
emotions? In order for a set of instruments and vocals to be considered music they must fulfill these two main characteristics.
Let us turn to the meaning of harmony. Harmony as seen in our lives refers to the combination of elements resulting in beauty and pleasure to our senses. Perhaps the best example in musical harmony could be the performances of musicians such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Frederic Chopin among many others who constitute to classical music. Their musical compositions employ soft gentle sounds from a variety of instruments. Each instrument is given the opportunity to be appreciated and delightful to everyone s ears. Coordination of every instrument is vital in their performances; a slight error in a member can cause a loss of harmony. Thus harmony involves pleasure, beauty, and coordination.
In contrast to classical music, let us now analyze Heavy Metal in respect to harmony. A former singer and bass player in the a band called Blue Cheer, Dick Peterson points out We had a place in forming that heavy-metal sound. Although I m not saying we knew what we were doing, cuse we didn t. All we knew was we wanted more power [in the sound] (Walser 9). Heavy metal employs different kinds of rhythms, or shall we say sounds, compared with the music of classical musicians. The comment made by the former singer and bass player illustrates what ought not to be considered harmony. Loudness is in no regard pleasurable to our senses. The use of distorted sounds, screams, and rare instruments can be harmful to us. It can eventually cause damage to our ears and pollution to our atmosphere. The lyrics used in Heavy metal do not fall in the category of pleasure either. It is very common to find obscene words and phrases promoting violence and revolution in the songs. The influence of Heavy Metal usually results in alterations in the adrenaline level of fans. It is not uncommon to see head banging, fights, and even nudity during the concerts. Heavy metal clearly falls very distant from becoming harmonious.
Let us now turn to the expression of emotions. Perhaps what brought music to reality was the expression of emotion? People express their feelings through music. Some songs can express love and appreciation of life while others may express regrets and sorrows. Whatever the occasion or the emotion a person goes through can be either expressed or consolidated by different songs. The music of classical composers usually expresses love for people, for life and every other aspect of humanity. On the other hand, as the title of an album by Pantera suggests Vulgar Display of Power , Heavy metal songs will more than likely express the need for social power. In other occasions it may express hatred towards authorities, parents, and schools. All together the lyrics involved in Heavy Metal may promote violence among our society, again resulting in the opposite of harmony.
We have clearly stated the two characteristics of music stated by the Oxford English Dictionary. The use of the word and within the definition suggests, as it does from my perspective of music, that in order for something to be considered music it must meet these two criteria. Harmonically speaking, Heavy metal is far from becoming pleasurable to neither our senses nor our society. Adult people specially, stand in opposition to the growth in popularity of this genre. On the other hand, in many cases it does fulfill with the expression of emotions.
Heavy Metal could be considered music for its lyrics for it expresses the emotions of the performer, however, it does not meet the first and most important of the two criteria, harmony. According to Robert Walser, The spectacular increase in the popularity of heavy metal during the 1980s prompted many critics and scholars of popular music to begin to write metal s history (7). This may be true, but to no extent does popularity make something be right. Even dough it may be of joy to some people to witness the concerts and to listen to this obscene category of music, the criteria shows a different view. In this regard I shall say that Heavy metal is wrongfully credited with the title of music . It would be close to impossible to put an end to he production of these records. The only solution now rests in our hands, only we can stop the growth in popularity by not allowing our children to be involved in it, and thus put an end to this. It is not only a source of violence but it is also a misrepresentation of one of our most valuable identities as humans, Music.