Hardcore: Culturally And Musically

author: lifeguard date: 03/21/2005 category: genres' battles
I like this
1648
voted: 64
Hardcore is one of my many passions in music, and the people who are familiar with it are probably aware that very little about it (culturally and musically alike) makes any sense whatsoever. I, personally, am relatively new to hardcore, but have found it quite entertaining as both a listener and a musician. The information in this article is a combination of opinion, observation and personal participation in hardcore.

The Culture

The hardcore audience, or as they and others in the musical scene are appropriately called, scene kids, is part of a movement. Waitscratch that. I guess it's more of a fad. These guys and girls don't stand for anything more than the music. Most scene kids have a certain mode of dress. I'd relate it closer to a uniform. We've seen the people who wear the tight black T-shirts featuring a hardcore band of their choice, (a tight black hoodie with buttons pinned to it, if it's cold outside) a pair of tight-fitting girl jeans (also with buttons pinned onto one of the front pockets), and some slip-on Vans or Chuck Taylors. Oh, yeah, don't forget the hardcore haircuts and gauged earlobes. Well, guys, as ironic as it sounds, underground cultures seem to be a popular thing to be a part of. I suppose it's kind of like a fraternity. Not just any guy off the street can be a part of it, and it might as well be invite only. The spread of hardcore seems to be through referral, and after the initiation in the pit, you can be a member. Of course, there are a lot of people who pretend to be in this society. But there are posers involved with every genre, right? Naturally, record labels notice popular growing trends, and they want a piece of the pie. They scoop up some hardcore bands and send in some producers to make everything a little more people-friendly. Call it selling out, call it good business, but regardless, underground cultures are making their way into the light, and will, like other genres, come to die. But until that happens to hardcore, there is plenty of fun to be had. One of my favorites is hardcore dancing. Hardcore dancing, or throwing down, is a form of expression I never would have imagined prior to my exposure to hardcore. Amidst a cluster of scene kids, there is usually one, or in certain instances more, that flaunt their skills in throwing down. I have witnessed kids who jump in the pseudo-spotlight, plant their feet in a sturdy power-stance, and rotate their arms dual-windmill style, flailing to fight an array of invisible enemies. I have seen others who find a clear space and simply spaz out in a manner that resembles a violent epileptic seizure. Every once in a while, however, I come across someone that throws down with such talent and grace that they seem to be a personified resurrection of a lost art technique that emerges only when summoned by a hardcore musician. They can leap through the air and move with indescribable balance, then disappear into the crowd as quickly as they emerged. A warning to the cautious, though: throwing down can be a brutal sport. Although the purpose of throwing down is not to attack any nearby thing that breathes, people often get hurt. I have often come home from shows with bruises and battle-scars that only my skateboarding brother could envy.

The Music

It might not be a good comparison, but I like to compare hardcore music to old Kung Fu movies: full of action but difficult to understand and follow. Musically, hardcore can be recognized almost immediately due to many of the trademark sounds associated with it. Wait a minutewhat's that sound? It sounds like a note and its minor second! Very few things sound as atrocious and displeasing to the ears as two notes a half step apart, yet there is hardly a song without it or some other seemingly random yet intentionally dissonant chords. Hardcore musicians have a way of capturing these chaotic sounds and applying them to songs without making them sound, you know, bad. For the most part, the music is full of spontaneous tempo, key, and time changes, as well as odd rhythms from all instruments, which often make the songs difficult to follow yet leaves much room for creativity in the formation of a song. Now we can't forget about one of my particular favorite parts of hardcore songs: the breakdown. Breakdowns are easily noticed by drastic decrease in tempo, odd rhythms on relatively basic power-chord progressions (tunings are often in DADGBE, CGCFAD, or some other variation) with a few of those discords thrown in. It is often the drums that shine in this particular section, smashing cymbals and blasting the double-bass pedals in unison with the palm-muted guitar rhythms. This section often lacks the energy present on other parts of the song, but not in a negative fashion. Its purpose it to build tension, the calm before the storm. Immediately proceeding breakdowns is some speedy riffage bound to inspire scene kids to throw down. As far as lyrics go, a lot of times it doesn't even matter. Most vocals are so discernable that the vocalist could be screaming about how much scene kids suck, and they would still be thrashing in the pit. Some vocalists, however, just might actually sing a little, or scream just clearly enough to make the words recognizable. The words don't usually rhyme. They really don't need to. Well, guys that's about it. I am sure there is more, but like I said, I am relatively new to the concept of hardcore. As far as I know, there is not a large number of hardcore fans on this site, so I wanted to give them something to read that was especially for them. Long live hardcore. -Parker Stotts
More lifeguard columns:
+ Story Of A Guitar Poser Junkyard 05/26/2005
+ Writing Your Own Article The Guide To 04/02/2005
+ The Talent Behind Ska Genres' Battles 02/21/2005
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect