Classical Music Students Study Heavy Metal

A renown classical music university in Australia has asked its students to copy techniques from a stunning heavy metal band - hear the song they're studying here.

Ultimate Guitar

Heavy metal might not often be found in an academic environment, but one university in Australia is starting to think different.

Professor Matthew Hindson at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music has shaken their classical music curriculum by introducing a song by Australian metal band Ne Obliviscaris to his students.

What's more surprising is that Hindons is himself a world-renown classical composer, but he was so struck by the band's song "And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope" that he's asking students to use their techniques in an assignment.

"It is my pleasure to introduce such high quality music making to our students, alongside other music by composers including Beethoven, Gershwin, Steve Reich and Peter Sculthorpe. Musicians deserve to hear the music of Ne Obliviscaris, and the music of many other metal bands, in order to appreciate the compositional complexity that lies within it, no matter what their musical tastes," said Hindson (via Blabbermouth).

It's not the first time this year that metal and education have hit the headlines. In May, the world's first Heavy Metal degree was announced, but education campaigners were quick to dub the course a waste of time.

Hear the song "And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope" by Ne Obliviscaris here:

What songs would you recommend to universities if they wanted to study music? Post your suggestions in the comments.


52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The song thats displayed in the player isn't the song intended. Skip the first few to find it, or use the vid below:
    The song in the player wouldn't work for me anyway. It said it was playing but no sound came. This one sounds great so far. The violin at the beginning really reminds me of Jean-Luc Ponty.
    If we're studying metal, I'd have to go with something by Cynic. But if we're not limiting ourselves, pretty much any King Crimson song deserves picking apart, especially their most recent works.
    The song sounds pretty technical. It's good that metal is finally being recognized for it's actual musicality.
    I'd see what the music students make of Dream Theater's Octavarium!
    That would be incredible. If any metal song could be compared to a classical piece, it would be Octavarium. That song is a ****ing masterpiece.
    I know someone at the Con (same place as this) studying vocals, who studied Dream Theater because of LaBrie. They spent a long time deconstructing octavarium, apparently.
    So many people in these comments don't seem to understand they are studying it for its musical ideas, concepts, techniques, etc. Whole bunch of theory stuff. They aren't studying metal, they are studying a piece that happens to be metal.
    I don't know if it counts because their music is pretty much directly influenced by classical music anyway, but I find Tosin Abasi's compositions to be completely out of this world. I will never fully comprehend the technicality of his work but I really don't mind living in quiet, dumbfounded admiration.
    Can't believe it took so long for Tosin to be mentioned. I mean.. he's studied classical guitar/theory and jazz, and played in metal bands for ages. I wouldn't pick him to start with in studying classical music, but he'd be great to study if you were looking at more contemporary takes (as he uses classical techniques, but not in a very classical style). He's just so crazy technical studying him would be a challenge... a fun one though. - Same goes for Javier's playing.
    I don't see how this song can be fruitful for classical musical theory (aside from the first two minutes), but maybe someone with more musical knowledge than me can tell me Good thing for the band though, that album is good.
    This song in particular is used because of its complexity when it comes to mixing each instrument together. When you get further into the song, to put it simply, 'there's like, tons of shit going on at once', similarly if you wrote an orchestral symphony you'd be guiding violins, bass, percussion, wind, brass etc.
    Thankyou! I too was wondering the same thing about how it would be useful to people learning classical music at such a high level. All I could think of was maybe time signatures? Your comment, resulted in a face palm
    This song and this entire album are absolutely amazing! One of the best releases of 2012
    Unfortunately they neglected to say that hinds on actually puts a lot of pop and metal influences into his music. His pieces. The most popular of his works being 'Rush' and 'an Ode to Metallica'. He's long been influenced contemporary music. As the chair of music at the Sydney con it was only to be expected.
    I'm actually really glad you guys reported on this. Ne Obliviscaris are friends of mine, the fact that they got into the news here in Australia and now on Ultimate Guitar is really great for them, they are pretty stoked.
    I'm surprised they didn't jump immediately to Malmsteen since he has a lot of classical influences like Vivaldi and Paganini. I'd agree better with Dream Theater since they are Progressive Metal and much can be learned from listening to them, even if you're not a fan of 12-15 min songs. Then there's Evergrey.
    Malmsteen's music is clearly influenced by classical music, or actually his melodies in his solos are, but the structures of his songs aren't that classical. Playing the harmonic minor scale and diminished arpeggios isn't classical music (even though it has that "classical" sound). You need more progressive song structure. His songs are not written like classical songs, they are written more like rock songs. So Malmsteen is actually just rock music with classical sounding melodies. Also I don't see why they would analyze Malmsteen when they could analyze Vivaldi and Paganini that are more complex and they are also the "original" composers. I don't think they started studying heavy metal because it has classical influences and melodies that sound just like Paganini. They studied it because it sounded good and had some complex arrangements. It doesn't need to sound like classical music. Actually I think all this "neo-classical" metal is just classical sounding melodies and harmonies played over basic rock and metal song structures. There's nothing really classical in it.
    Saw these guys about a month ago in Adelaide. Kick was mixed really well, so every one of those kicks caused you to vomit a small part of your insides. Now that's f***ing metal.
    Why even bother adding the screaming vocals? They do nothing to make the song better, it only detracts from the song. Just make it instrumental and it would be perfect.
    Between the Buried and me-Colors would be a great piece to study. The themes are quite similar to a classical format.
    It's a good song they are going to study, but I hope that they also are gonna listen a bit to Rhapsody of Fire or Derdian
    A lot of metal has classical connections, even blues. It's not the instruments guys, but the lines, notes and patterns etc.. incredible. Great song and good work on studying Aussieland
    This is why classical and metal do very well when mixed together. Might get hated on for this example, but remember Metallica's S&M performance? The Call of Ktulu was ****ing immense with the orchestra in the background, and I hope they do it again!
    Saw these guys a few months back and I can tell you that hearing this song live was easily the highlight of the night
    I'm surprised that this actually made the news, I'm sure there are plenty of classical music courses that have looked at a variety of musical genres including metal. Other degrees like psychology or biology/neuroscience have looked into metal too. It's as good a source of study as any on a case by case basis (as much as I like metal, I don't think I'd be bothered doing a 4 year degree in it).
    Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (To study heavy metal that is.)
    It's not studying it just for the sake of studying metal. It's just great material for musical study, that happens to be metal.
    Darth Crow
    Oh gee, he could have chosen a good heavy metal song, or at least a heavy metal song! This is FAR from heavy metal.
    You must have the attention span of a goldfish. How about you listen to more than the intro before you judge this amazing song?
    Great song until the 'singing' came in. How come there are so few dio/dickinson/boals/soto type singers in current metal?
    Are you kidding? There are loads of current metal vocalists like that - check out Dream Theater, Symphony X, Dragonforce, and my favorites - Nevermore and Holy Grail... There are so many more, but those are probably the most notable.
    Don't understand the thumbs down man... If I were to add any other bands... Twilightning, Avalon, Rhapsody!
    Meshuggah has very complex patterns and they know very well how to make dissonance sound sonant. Same goes for tool, but thats more of a rythmical kind, even more so as meshuggah. Animals as leaders has very technical stuff, and altho its heavilly based on classical theory (why study something clasicall-like if you have stuff like vivaldi), but might give a good idea of how to integrate modern styles into the more classical theory.
    They should listen to Marty Friedman era Megadeth, or Jason Becker. Or just study Cacophony, Racer X, etc.
    It's good this band is getting exposed. They were super underground a few years ago. These guys are amazing. It's very important you listen to most of the album because judging them off of this one song would be putting them in a box. Better yet, listen to the 3-track "Aurora Veil" demo. I think the production on it made it sound more raw.
    Dat production... its beautiful! I think alot of producers/engineers could learn from this