Volume 10 (2024)

“Simultaneous Distinct Headbanging Patterns in Heavy Metal”

Guy Capuzzo (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Volume 10.4 (July 2024)


Link to bibliography

Heavy metal fans and performers headbang for many reasons, one of which involves entrainment and musical meter. Our impulse to entrain to meter, and to other people’s periodic movements, is so strong that one rarely sees headbangers moving their bodies in different ways at the same time. So how might we make sense of such moments involving performers?

This video-essay studies performances by the bands Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders to gain purchase on this question. In Meshuggah’s “Perpetual Black Second,” the band members choreograph a struggle between freedom and control that is central to the heavy metal aesthetic. In the same band’s “Rational Gaze,” the vocalist’s headbanging pattern, which moves at a different speed than the pattern of the remaining band members, represents the element of power fundamental to the heavy metal value system. Finally, in Animals as Leaders’ “Wave of Babies,” the relation of an asymmetrical guitar riff to an isochronous stream of cymbal attacks encourages one performer to entrain to the onbeat pulses and another performer to the offbeat ones.

Keywords: Heavy Metal headbanging, entrainment, rhythm, meter, Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders, melody


“Directionality in Twelve-Tone Composition”

Christoph Neidhöfer (McGill University)

Volume 10.3 (May 2024)


Link to bibliography

The equal representation of the twelve pitch classes in the twelve-tone row poses a particular challenge: how can a twelve-tone composition convey a sense of direction while constantly cycling through the aggregate, which, unlike diatonic and most other modes, has no intrinsic pitch-class hierarchy, since all pitch classes relate to each other in exactly the same way? This video illuminates how twelve-tone composer Julius Schloss (1902–1972) developed strategies to create directionality, that is, a clear sense in the harmonic, melodic, and phrase-structural organization of the music of moving from one place to another, thereby counteracting the “static” tendency of the twelve-tone method (Adorno [1949] 2006) with its commitment to the pitch-class equilibrium in the row.

Keywords: Twelve-tone music, serialism, directionality, form, Julius Schloss


“Dual Leading-Tone Loops in Recent Television Dramas”

Brad Osborn (University of Kansas)

Volume 10.2 (March 2024)


Link to bibliography

In this video I highlight a trend in recent television dramas in which characters’ conflicting emotions are scored using short chord loops that contain leading tones for major and relative minor keys simultaneously. These harmonic structures, which I dub dual leading-tone loops, present an eight-pitch-class palette (e.g. ABCDEFGG#) over a looping progression, and thus exert a strong tonal pull toward both a major key and its relative minor in short succession. Dual leading-tone loops are a particular subset of what scholars have identified as a “double tonic complex,” but in this case the two paired keys shuttle back and forth over a matter of seconds.

Keywords: film music, popular music, tonality, chord loops, musical meaning

“The Best Laid Plans . . . and Others: An 18th-Century Compositional Outline”

L. Poundie Burstein (Hunter College, CUNY) with Quynh Nguyen (Hunter College, CUNY) and Jennifer Roderer (Hunter College, CUNY/The Metropolitan Opera)

Volume 10.1 (January 2024)


Link to bibliography

A standard strategy for music analysis is to reduce out the less essential elements of a composition so as to arrive at a type of musical outline of the work. Both the benefits and problems with such an approach are highlighted in one of the first analyses along these lines, an examination by Heinrich Christoph Koch (1787) of the aria “Ein Gebet” from Carl Heinrich Graun’s oratorio Der Tod Jesu.

Keywords: music analysis, history of music theory, Galant music, analytic models, musical form, autographs and archival documents


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