Culture-specific production and performance characteristics: An interview study with ‘Teutonic’ metal producers

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Abstract

‘Viking metal’, ‘Teutonic metal’, ‘Mesopotamian metal’ – labels of this kind are common in fan discourse, media and academia. Whereas some research has investigated such labels and related them to the artist’s stage presentation, music videos, artwork and lyrics, there is still a lack from the perspectives of music production and performance as to how such culturally and geographically associated labels differ musically. This article explores culture-specific production and performance characteristics of ‘Teutonic metal’, focussing on how metal from Germany differed from British and US-American productions in the 1980s and ‘90s, during which time metal spread to Continental Europe and German speed metal achieved international reputation for its unique interpretation of metal. The study is based on a qualitative interview design with three record producers who were crucial for the rise of German metal labels and their bands: Harris Johns for Noise Records (Helloween, Kreator, Sodom), Siggi Bemm for Century Media (Angel Dust, Kreator, Morgoth) and Charlie Bauerfeind for Steamhammer (Helloween, Gamma Ray, Running Wild, Blind Guardian). The findings suggest that performances differed between bands from Germany, America and Great Britain regarding timing, rhythmic precision, ensemble synchronisation and expressiveness. Likewise, production approaches varied due to distinct preferences for certain guitar amplifiers, drum tunings, microphone techniques, mixing concepts and studio acoustics. Despite such culture-specific differences, it proved difficult for the interviewed producers to identify distinguishing features. Genre conventions seem to have a stronger impact than cultural origin overall.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetal Music Studies
Volume7
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jan 2020

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Metals
Performance Characteristics
Germany
Continental
Guardian
Artwork
Acoustics
Lyrics
Genre Conventions
Drum
Tuning
Music Videos
Media Discourse
Guitar
Qualitative Interviews
Rise
1980s
Music
Synchronization
Viking

Cite this

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title = "Culture-specific production and performance characteristics: An interview study with ‘Teutonic’ metal producers",
abstract = "‘Viking metal’, ‘Teutonic metal’, ‘Mesopotamian metal’ – labels of this kind are common in fan discourse, media and academia. Whereas some research has investigated such labels and related them to the artist’s stage presentation, music videos, artwork and lyrics, there is still a lack from the perspectives of music production and performance as to how such culturally and geographically associated labels differ musically. This article explores culture-specific production and performance characteristics of ‘Teutonic metal’, focussing on how metal from Germany differed from British and US-American productions in the 1980s and ‘90s, during which time metal spread to Continental Europe and German speed metal achieved international reputation for its unique interpretation of metal. The study is based on a qualitative interview design with three record producers who were crucial for the rise of German metal labels and their bands: Harris Johns for Noise Records (Helloween, Kreator, Sodom), Siggi Bemm for Century Media (Angel Dust, Kreator, Morgoth) and Charlie Bauerfeind for Steamhammer (Helloween, Gamma Ray, Running Wild, Blind Guardian). The findings suggest that performances differed between bands from Germany, America and Great Britain regarding timing, rhythmic precision, ensemble synchronisation and expressiveness. Likewise, production approaches varied due to distinct preferences for certain guitar amplifiers, drum tunings, microphone techniques, mixing concepts and studio acoustics. Despite such culture-specific differences, it proved difficult for the interviewed producers to identify distinguishing features. Genre conventions seem to have a stronger impact than cultural origin overall.",
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