Popular Music History, Vol 6, No 1/Vol 6, no 2 (2011)

'I want you to support local metal': A theory of metal scene formation

Jeremy Wallach, Alexandra Levine
Issued Date: 14 May 2012


Much existing literature in metal studies contains an implicit theory of scene formation; the following article aims to articulate an explicit one. This theory is based primarily on ethnographic research on metal scenes in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Toledo, USA. These two field sites are quite dissimilar culturally, demographically, and geographically, yet their respective metal scenes share similar sets of concerns and values and even have contact with one another. Through the positing of four core functions of and six generalizations about metal scenes, the following essay considers artifactual circulation, institutional support, musical amateurism, boundary maintenance, generational succession, and specific stages of maturation as their essential features, whether they emerge in bustling, rapidly-industrializing Asian megalopolises; deindustrialized, depopulated cities in the Midwestern United States; or anywhere else on the planet. We end with a few provocative claims concerning metal’s uniqueness and an exhortation to a new generation of ethnographers to discover if these claims have empirical foundation.

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DOI: 10.1558/pomh.v6i1.116


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