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EYAL LEVI ASSERTS THAT METAL AND CLASSICAL MUSIC ARE NOT THE SAME THING

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I’m sick and tired of hearing that classical music and metal music are pretty much the same thing in different time periods. No, they’re not. Okay? They’re not. There are some similarities, yes, but to say that they’re the same thing is about as accurate as saying that a tank is the same thing as a Ferrari. Sure, they’re both mechanized vehicles that can get you from point A to point B. Sure, they’re both powerful pinnacles of engineering and human ingenuity. But same thing? No.

Classical music and metal share some ingredients. First and foremost, the music is the music and it’s not changing. Yes, there may be some improvisation during solos, but pretty much the songs are the same every time they’re played. Same with classical music. Yes, the interpretation of the piece will change depending on the conductor, or the soloist may throw in different ornamentations here and there, but the piece is the piece just like the song is the song.

Both styles of music are extremely technically challenging. To truly pull off either parent genres, you have to be a master of your instrument. There’s no room for slouches. Yes, sometimes metal trends will bring in shitty bands and players and people do get to the top for political reasons, but by and large, you’ve got to be able to play your fucking instrument to stay on top. And if you can’t play your instrument that well you better know how to write a killer fucking tune. The kind of tune that people will always love. That’s how Lars Ulrich is forgiven for his not so amazing drumming. Same way that a high school orchestra will be forgiven for playing Beethoven’s 9th so badly that suicide seems like a perfectly reasonable way out of enduring a performance.

I feel like the most powerful moments in orchestral music can have the same kind of impact as the most powerful moments in meta,l but there’s a big, big difference in how those powerful moments happen. Metal is riff-based music. Riffs repeat. Contrasting riffs come in. They repeat. How far you go with that is up to you. A section of an Opeth song is still usually based on a riff, just like a section in a Lamb Of God song is based on a riff. Usually, as structures in metal develop, riffs are brought back in a manner that is almost completely identical or slightly altered – but its not nearly the same level of development as in orchestral music. And that’s due to lack of dynamics. Metal may go into soft sections, but that’s a departure from the norm. The soft sections in a Cynic or Opeth tune are not standard fare for metal. Metal is primarily an “everything louder than everything else” style of music.

Take the symphonic metal masterpiece Death Kult Armageddon by Dimmu Borgir for example. I will start by saying that I love that record. I love how the orchestra is worked in. I love how there are sections where the orchestra is the loudest thing in the mix. I love the ambience. I love that there are soft sections. But how many of those sections are there? Its still mainly 100 mph blast beat heaven. In orchestral music, the big badass sections are there to serve a dramatic purpose. They are not the mainstay. They are a part in a story. That is a fundamental difference. Metal is all power, all of the time, with little exception.Classical music is the full range of dynamic expression.

Also, with a few exceptions, like, say, Holst’s The Planets, or choral works such as requiems, classical structures are based around a few long movements. Basically, four movements per symphony. Yes, structures have varied through the ages, but that’s your typical setup. Dramatic 1st. Softer 2nd. Interesting 3rd. Super Dramatic 4th. Metal is based on songs.

I could go on and on ,but you get my point. They are not the same thing. Now that I’ve said my piece on that, let me recommend some classical pieces that are off the beaten path (i.e., not “Night On Bald Mountain”) that metal fans would enjoy.

I’d love to see a metal band try and pull this one off. You think you got skills son? You think you know what epic means? Think again –

Or how about that oh-so-breathtaking symphonic metal sound? Think you can match this with keyboards and face paint?

Do you believe that because you know some Harmonic Minor runs that you are classically trained or can even really call yourself a neo-classical player? Learn this, and then tell me –

It always annoys me when people idolize metal keyboard players because they can play guitar lines on the keys. Lets see them pull this off –

-EL

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