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Much recent scholarship on metal music has treated the repertoire through historical and ethnomusicological lenses. While the theoretical literature has engaged certain significant artists– particularly Meshuggah and Dream Theater—several important bands and aspects of the music have been overlooked. Especially significant is the relative lack of writing focusing on rhythmic and metric elements of this music which shape a large part of these genres’ distinctive sounds. My goals for this dissertation are twofold. First, this document serves as a style study with regard to rhythm, meter, hypermeter, and phrase rhythm as heard in contemporary metal music (i.e., metal music from around the mid-1990s to the present). Second, I demonstrate how the ways in which contemporary metal artists manipulate rhythm, meter, hypermeter, and phrase rhythm introduce new concepts or extensions of existing modes of analyses. I problematize two metric devices, namely asymmetric meter and metric modulation, as they apply to popular music, demonstrating applications of my conceptual framework to the contemporary metal repertoire. In my analyses, I adapt existing methodologies by Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983), Temperley (2001), Pearsall (1997), Rothstein (1989), and Krebs (1999), specifically Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s and Temperley’s preference-rule systems, Pearsall’s durational set notation, Rothstein’s descriptions of manipulations of hypermeter and phrase rhythm, and Krebs’s two types of metrical dissonance. Although the sources on which I base aspects of this study deal largely with a different repertoire than mine, the similarities between common-practice Western art music and popular music (including contemporary metal) warrant a similar approach. Where the repertoires diverge—particularly with regard to harmonic syntax and the nuances of metrical dissonance—I suggest alternative methods that address the idiosyncrasies of contemporary metal music. Despite the limited body of works I use for this dissertation, I maintain that the analytical models I propose here are applicable to a wider range of popular music. Therefore, with this document, I contribute to the broader cause of rhythm and meter studies in popular music scholarship.
Metal, Meter, Music, Popular, Rhythm, Rock
Date of Defense
October 31, 2017.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jane Piper Clendinning, Professor Directing Dissertation; John Will Parks, University Representative; Joseph C. Kraus, Committee Member; Mark Richards, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Garza, J. M. (2017). Adapt and Prevail: New Applications of Rhythmic and Metric Analysis in Contemporary Metal Music. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_FALL2017_Garza_fsu_0071E_14184