Backpatches & Elbowpatches #11: Upcoming Events in Metal Academia
Merry New Year and all of that! We’re getting into some new things in metal academia so I wanted to take this column to highlight a few upcoming things that Elbowpatches-type folk might be interested in checking out. I’ll have some more pseudo-academical type musings for y’all in February, but for now I hope that some of y’all might have some interest in the work these good people are doing.
Coming right on the heels of last month’s column on metal studies and music theory & analysis, Music Theory Online published an article on Meshuggah’s light show technician Edvard Hansson by music theorist Olivia Lucas. Lucas has published previously on Meshuggah’s rhythmic structures, but this article expands that connection to the sonic experiences with the physical, visual, and embodied ways of listening and experiencing music. Here, the light show adds an additional interpretive layer to the musical performance that both highlights the complexity of the music and provides clarity by emphasizing particular rhythmic layers and cues. It’s a pretty cool article that left me with a lot of chin-scratching to do in terms of appreciating how the experience of music (especially live) is a multi-sensory and embodied experience in which sound itself forms only one facet.
There are also a few Metal Studies-type events coming up online that I wanted to highlight as we get into the new year. There is an online Zoom-based course series called Heavy Metal 101 that is beginning presently, supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The course features panels and roundtables on music theory and songwriting, staging and lighting design, fashion, and vocal techniques. I’d especially want to invite folks to check out the event on Tues. the 18th on feminism and motherhood with Joan Jocson-Singh. She’ll be discussing her research on feminism in metal, vigilante feminism, and motherhood's role within metal, along with larger questions about metal music in academia and the importance of "academicizing" the genre. I expect it will be an informative and potentially challenging discussion for sure.
Next month the Department of Classical Studies at Brandeis University is hosting the Heavy Metal and Global Premodernity Conference organized by Charlotte Naylor Davis and Jeremy Swist. This conference is going to bring in scholars from all over the world discussing the myriad ways in which metal employs and constructs the distant past as a site for artistic inspiration and also often a form of social and political rhetoric. In some cases it’s just an extension of metal’s tendency to explore fictional and/or distant worlds of all types in its lyrics and artwork, but the past also provides a vehicle for forming alternative and resistant sorts of identities in multiple contexts. It’ll be of particular interest for anyone interested not only in metal & Greek/Roman myth and history, but also includes panels on medievalism, Mesoamerican metal, and a number of other things to boot. It runs from Thursday February 24th - Saturday February 26, with papers and panels happening all day.
Until next time!
Ross Hagen is a musicologist at Utah Valley University and is the author of A Blaze in the Northern Sky from the 33.3 series. Fun. Core. Mosh. Trends.
Graphic used under creative commons.
Toxophilus, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons