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Cover Songs and Tradition: A Case Study of Symphonic Metal

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This paper examines the role of cover songs in the continuation of tradition, and in the formation of a musical canon. It explores the connections between ‘classical’ and heavy metal music as expressed by musicians of said genres, specifically those who partake in both. Furthermore, I argue that the practice of covering works from the Western art music canon in the metal genre, evinces the consequent development of the symphonic metal sub-genre. An embedded investigation attests to Western art music having inspired numerous metal musicians, who have in turn covered said music as a means to show their respect for the tradition. As such, cover versions are essential to continue one tradition in a new direction. Ultimately, these cover versions of classical works liaise classical music and heavy metal, resulting in the formation of the symphonic metal tradition. Covering music also strengthens a musicians’ position as authentic artists by demonstrating their belonging to two rites, and through their work of synthesizing grounds for the fusion of aforementioned rites. This research provides a further basis for examining the same phenomenon in other genres of music that demonstrate inter- and intra-generic links. It also provides a base for research into how rock and metal bands construct their own notions of tradition, canon, and authenticity through the music that they create and adapt.


Cover songs, symphonic metal, Western Art Music, canon, authenticity

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