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Functions of genre in metal and hardcore music

Kennedy, Lewis F.


Lewis F. Kennedy



This thesis addresses various functions of genre in metal/hardcore music as a lens through which to study popular music in the twenty-first century. The thesis proposes that issues of genre are fundamental to understandings of popular music for all participants.

Predominant in metal/hardcore discourse, genre serves as an organising principle in historiographies that exert significant influence upon contemporary perceptions of metal and hardcore. I propose generic symbiosis as a new way to conceptualise the relationship between metal and hardcore, addressing issues of consequentiality arising from extant frameworks. Exploring intra- and intergeneric connections, I observe the relationship between small- and largescale phenomena that allows a relatively specific group of performance techniques and compositional devices to connote numerous metal/hardcore genres (and vice versa). Within this interconnected model of genre, subgenres provide a middle ground of generic adaptation by providing a focus on specific small-scale phenomena.

Genre may be understood as a general, amorphous concept in flux, while style affords specificity, and their relationship is analogous to that between type and token (where style tokens the genre type). Structured rhizomatically, scenes provide the literal and metaphorical space for such tokening, connecting physical instantiations to abstract notions. The internal rhetorical tensions of mainstream versus underground, and progression versus tradition, are demonstrated to function as a creative apparatus for participants. A manifestation of generic symbiosis, this apparatus provides the mechanism for generic adaptation as participants negotiate these tensions. Through a case study of twenty-first century metalcore, I observe the process of generic codification, outlining how a combination of specific elements of style, emerging from particular scenes, came to demarcate a genre. I show how adaptations within a single genre engender change in numerous other areas of metal/hardcore music culture, underscoring the interconnectivity of genre in popular music.


Kennedy, L. F. (2017). Functions of genre in metal and hardcore music. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Music
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Music, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2017


Thesis (2.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Kennedy, Lewis F. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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