Mynett, Mark (2013) Contemporary Metal Music Production. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.
Abstract

Distinct challenges are posed when conveying Contemporary Metal Music’s(CMM) sounds and performance perspectives within a recorded and mixed form. CMM often features down tuned, heavily distorted timbres, alongside high tempi, fast and frequently complex subdivisions, and highly synchronised instrumentation. The combination of these elements results in a significant concentration of dense musical sound usually referred to as ‘heaviness’. The publications for this thesis present approaches, processes and techniques for capturing, presenting and accentuating heaviness, as well as intelligibility and performance precision which facilitate the listener’s clear comprehension of the frequent overarching complexity in the music’s construction. Intelligibility and performance precision are the principal requirements for a high commercial standard of CMM, and additionally can enhance a production’s sense of heaviness.

This synoptic commentary defines heaviness from an ecological perspective, by highlighting invariant properties that shape the embodied experience of being human. Heaviness is primarily substantiated through displays of distortion and, regardless of the listening levels involved, the fundamentals of this identity are ecologically linked to volume, power, energy, intensity, emotionality and aggression. In addition to distortion, a vital component of heaviness is sonic weight, which refers to CMM’s low frequencies being associated with large, intense and powerful entities.

CMM’s heaviness is also considered in terms of the perceived proximity of activity, apparent size of performance environment, and level and type of energy being expended. In particular, CMM provides the listener with the sense of utmost proximity to the band, usually without any significant perspective of depth.

Production strategies for achieving a high commercial standard in CMM are then presented. This is followed by a reflective commentary on the portfolio of productions, which includes discussion of the author’s transition from emulative to professional level of production and considers originality within this body of work.

By presenting the subject as an important, valid and authentic scholarly discipline, this work bridges the gap between the worlds of academia and music production practice for this style.

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