Epic Metal Playlists

I recently fixed something with my computer so that I can once again scrobble (i.e. submit lists of listened-to tracks to last.fm, which will then give me musical suggestions based on my listening habits). In celebration, I suppose, I put together two playlists on my last.fm account, both of which point out phenomena I find interesting in the music I listen to – the tendency towards really long songs, songs which often tell a story and move from one “movement” to another, and the tendency to use a certain language specific to epic metal, by which I don’t mean singing in foreign languages (though this is seen as well), but rather using certain words and phrases much more often than they appear in ordinary English.

Epic Length Epic Metal – ‘Epic metal bands (i.e. viking, folk, power, symphonic, progressive metal bands) have a tendency to love really long songs. This is a playlist of all of the songs in my library over 8 minutes long. There’s a lot of them; they make up 51/828 songs in my popular music library (6%), and take up 8 hours, 52 minutes of the 66 hours, 23 minutes of music there (13%).’

Language of Epic Metal – ‘There are a certain set of words that appear over and over in the titles of songs I listen to – meaning, songs of the “epic metal” genre (viking, folk, power, symphonic, and progressive metal, to be precise). This isn’t surprising; every subculture develops its own distinct language, with words that carry special significance for its members. This is an exploration of those words. The playlist includes every song I have from these genres that contains in its title one or more of these often-appearing words (defined as appearing in >9 titles). The words: Dark, Dream, Land, Night, Song, Time.’

You probably can’t listen to the playlists on last.fm unless you’re a subscriber, but you can still look at the track listing and compare them with your own music library, if some of your musical tastes overlap with mine.


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