Heavy Metal Studies Available at Leeds Metropolitan University

"There are academics who think heavy metal is a great evil," says Dr. Karl Spracklen.

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In recent times, heavy metal steadily began finding its way to universities, attracting young scholars around the globe. Bringing metal to the academic crowd, International Society of Heavy Metal Studies (ISMMS) are now available at Leeds Metropolitan University. Professor of Leisure Studies Dr. Karl Spracklen gave a thorough explanation of the metal course, discussing his specific focus on the black metal genre. Check out the clip below for more details. "Heavy metal is an important part of modern culture and everyday life, so studying heavy metal enables us to understand both of those things," Spracklen told Cvlt Nation (via Blabbermouth). "For me, the interesting thing about heavy metal is the tension between metal's strong sense of being part of a non-mainstream subculture, and metal's place in the industry of modern pop and rock music. That's because I'm essentially a sociologist. "Other heavy metal scholars might be interested in the way the music is constructed, or the meaning behind song lyrics, or the history of the scene, or the use of heavy metal as a philosophy or ideology of life. Heavy metal is just a subject field, a lens, through which we can think about problems in other academic disciplines." Asked on whether the university's been hostile toward metal in the past, Sprackled commented: "I think there have been academics who have been very dismissive of heavy metal in the past, people who have seen the music as serving no good purpose in everyday life. I think for many of these critics, their own prejudices and tastes have got in the way: metal has always had that blue-collar association, and some cultural academics still can't bring themselves to acknowledge the diversity and depth of the genre. "There are also some academics who think heavy metal is a great evil, and we still see some papers written that claim metal fans are more likely to be criminals and so on," the professor added. "This is just bad science, but every time someone publishes these crude generalizations the press picks up the story. This journal is the journal of the International Society For Metal Music Studies. This learned society is partly for academics who have a professional interest in metal, but also those in the industry who want to be a part of Metal Music Studies, including musicians and journalists, and fans."

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Would you consider giving metal studies a go? Let us know in the comments.

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Just because it's "academic" doesn't mean it's worth shit.
    What would even do with this degree? join That Metal Show or be a roadie??
    Face R1pper
    It doesn't sound like it is meant to be a degree. Its a concentration for sociologists.
    I had a Sociology course and a lot of scholarly research articles I reviewed were heavy metal or rap music studies. It's more than likely not a degree, but part of another study such as sociology.
    If you think you have to earn a degree to become a musician, I don't think you quite get what music is about.
    its not about "the degree" at all. Its about the invaluable information you receive while in a conservatory or music program. It is very common for a music major to be in his/her undergrad longer than 4 years simply to continue absorbing as much as they can. You don't need a degree to gig, you just need to be damn good!
    If there are Jazz studies, I don't see why Metal shouldn't take its place up there.
    I'm struggling to see how studying Metal can actually be beneficial in comparison to say, Jazz or Classical music, both of those genres have been around much longer and you can still learn a lot from those genres of music. I can see a Heavy Metal scholarship being a great hobby or a homegrown community in which everyone chips in, but I don't think it's at the point where it needs an academic subject based off of it.
    But you're missing one thing... You can learn quite a lot from Metal music as well. Jazz was here longer? So you're basically saying that a musical genre just needs to be there for a certain period of time to be worth studying regardless of how influential or big it is? And don't forget the huge role of Heavy Metal music in the process of globalization. I don't see the usefulness of Metal studies, but I can certainly see the point of it being there.
    Metal has developed from previous eras of music. Jazz had the basics of metal/rock music, through the intstrumentation, structure of songs, etc. They are all interlinked, with roots going back to Classical music. There is a point in studying modern music to see how they have all developed from the earliest type of music. BVB used a tool J.S. Bach used in one of their songs, you can hear the jazz influence in many bands, etc. And to arunas's point, the best players can play a bit of everything. Just because a person subjects themselves to one genre doesn't mean they can't play anything else. Your comment really was ridiculous.
    There's a lot more theory and development behind Jazz in comparison and the fact that it has been around longer aids it in this regard, Jazz and Classical music have pretty much hit their peak in terms of development a long time ago, and therefore we can study those genres and their developments within an almost concrete historical context, whereas Metal is still ongoing and more research is needed before we can analyse it properly. I just don't think there is enough there for it to actually be beneficial to anyone, and a lot of the people who would be interested in this study would likely know almost everything there is to know about the genre in the first place, put two and two together and you get the picture.Metal is actually very simple by comparison when you look at the whole picture as well, this is coming from someone who knows quite a lot about the genre. You do raise an excellent point that the genre is influential and big though, but that is only one thing.Maybe there's something I'm not quite seeing here. This could be a big success though, I might be wrong, and I bet that there were people like me saying the same thing about Classical and Jazz studies. I think that a study in Metal would be alright if it was within the broader context of Contemporary Music or Sociology, but a specialised course dedicated to it is not warranted at this moment in time. But hey, that's just my opinion.
    I just can't agree on Metal being "simple". If anything, Metal is not simple. It's overcategorized beyond belief, some of its genres being overly simple to play, some being overly complicated, going above and beyond any other genre of music just for the sake of it, and is very versatile generally speaking. And this is coming from someone who loves Baroque and Classical very much. I just can not agree with you, although you have some good points.
    I never said Metal was a simple genre, I'm just saying in comparison to Jazz, it's nowhere near as complex. Even the more complex subgenres of Metal are lagging behind some forms of Jazz, not in terms of technical skill required to play necessarily, but in terms of arrangement, harmonic content etc. is where I consider it to be more simplistic by comparison. There's a few exceptions, but that's all it is, a few.
    I agree with you in terms of arrangement and harmonic content. That said, if you look at certain progressive metal bands, a lot of their instrumentals could stand right next to many jazz pieces.
    Really both you and 5tOrM have good points but being a huge metal fan myself i agree a little more with You... But again theres a good front on both sides.
    A good jazz player can play a little bit of everything, a good metal player can play.... metal.
    Actually a good metal player can play anything s/he has learned to play. Don't be a dumbass c**t, Arunas. Use your head, not the colon.
    You had a fairly solid argument up until your last two sentences. Way to play up to stereotypes though.
    You had a fairly solid argument up until your last two sentences. Way to play up to stereotypes though.
    most of the metal will have more musical knowledge than pretty much any other musician, the reason is simple, metal need way more versatility and "mastering" of different genres of music to be what it is. Metal includes a lot of influences from other musical styles too which is something you can't see in jazz music because you just "can't touch" jazz music according to purist. Study metal and come back after, you don't know much in that domain.
    Purists are wrong, there's been a lot of experimentation in Jazz and some of the most critically acclaimed albums within the genre are actually what is regarded as "Fusion".
    I agree that metal is a diverse and complex genre, but to say jazz isn't is just bizarre. Ever heard of Victor Wooten or Guthrie Govan? Both play jazz fusion. So if you "can't touch" jazz music, those two and hundreds of others must be doing something seriously wrong. If you haven't heard of either I hope you discover both of them, they're incredible musicians both of whom are practically flawless technically while still maintaining incredible expression.
    You clearly don't know much about jazz and all the fusion sub-genres then.
    You clearly don't know much about jazz and all the fusion sub-genres then.
    Things you can learn from metal: 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0
    If the follow-up course isn't a Masters of Reality they missed something golden.
    Jesus Christ UG members. Obviously this is not great for getting a job. That's what a business degree is for. Metal being studied in school is not immediately elitist, and this guy just wants to study how metal affects society. Where are all the comments of "Yes ! More people appreciating how good and relevant metal is !"
    At least it's better than Religious Studies and Media.
    I bet all those who listen to pop etc. are going 'stupid metalheads' or watever. Id love to see theirs and our reaction when the degree to study pop comes out...
    Heavy metal is a way of life, a feeling, not something that can be "taught".
    All things can be taught at a purely academic level. Jazz is a life, but we teach jazz forms and history. Why not Heavy Metal forms and history?
    Hello all. Your article is wrong. You've copied something off the internet that is wrong and failed to check it. Ouch! I never said anything about a Metal Music Studies course. I am talking about a journal, and a learned society. Leeds Met does not have a course on metal, and is not planning one. Karl Spracklen
    The Virtuoso
    Karl, You have an awesome beard. Also, your photo with your Enslaved shirt is fantastic. I hope to be as cool as you if I ever make it to full professor. Now, if you excuse me, I am going to write the most complex song ever. It will include: all of the modes and keys, most of the scales, most of the chord inversions, and most of the rhythmic groups, lots of tritones and atonality. Consequently, it will be the greatest song ever due to its complexity. Cheers.
    Face R1pper
    You should do an issue on the attitudes and work ethic of local metal bands compared to national/international metal bands. And then hire me to write an article in relation to Connecticut metal.
    People need to stop asking about a degree for this. It's not a degree program. It's one course, geared towards sociology students.
    I'd be stoked if this course was taught at UI. It's really cool to take a look at the sociological/cultural connections of media, especially music.
    Amaizing!With this diploma you can work at Heavy Metak High Schools,Institutes for Heavy Metal Technologies and Heavy Metal Kindergarden!
    just applied to uni, shame i missed out on this haha. still, id rather it wasnt centred around black
    Epi g-310
    Y'know, for everyone who's claiming this isn't a good genre for study, go give 12-tone music a listen and explain to me why that warrants more academic interest than metal.
    Leeds Met? well that explains it... Anyway, what possible career could you have a degree? pointless.