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Metal made me who I am: Seven adult men reflect on their engagement with metal music during adolescence

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Abstract

The relationship between adolescent mental health and their habits of music listening with regard to metal music has been consistently explored in academic research since the rise in popularity of heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Correlational studies have been most prominent, but do not tend to explore this relationship in the depth required to garner a detailed understanding of the nature of this music engagement. The aim of this study was to investigate adolescent experiences of metal music from the perspective of adults reflecting on this time in their lives. Descriptions shared in e-mail interviews by seven men from different countries were analysed using phenomenological strategies. Fourteen different themes were deduced from the data, highlighting a variety of experiences. These ranged from engaging and validating difficult emotions to gaining positive energy, finding out about world issues and negotiating social networks. The results of this enquiry challenges the dualistic notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music often interpreted from quantitative data.
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IJCM 7 (2) pp. 205–222 Intellect Limited 2014
International Journal of Community Music
Volume 7 Number 2
© 2014 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/ijcm.7.2.205_1
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adolescence
youth
metal
music
mental health
music therapy
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The University of Melbourne
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

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
The relationship between adolescent mental health and their habits of music listen-
ing with regard to metal music has been consistently explored in academic research
since the rise in popularity of heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Correlational studies have been most prominent, but do not tend to explore this rela-
tionship in the depth required to garner a detailed understanding of the nature of
this music engagement. The aim of this study was to investigate adolescent experi-
ences of metal music from the perspective of adults reflecting on this time in their
lives. Descriptions shared in e-mail interviews by seven men from different countries
were analysed using phenomenological strategies. Fourteen different themes were
deduced from the data, highlighting a variety of experiences. These ranged from
engaging and validating difficult emotions to gaining positive energy, finding out
about world issues and negotiating social networks. The results of this enquiry chal-
lenges the dualistic notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music often interpreted from quan-
titative data.
IJCM_7.2_HinesMcFerran_205-222.indd 205 8/19/14 1:17:38 PM
Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
206
1. The Kessler 10 is a
validated Psychological
Distress Scale (Kessler
et al. 2002) that
measures non-specific
psychological distress
based on questions
about negative
emotional states.
2. Whilst a range
of theoretical
orientations inform
the practices of music
therapists, Humanism
has been one of the
main influences
from psychology,
particularly in youth
work (McFerran 2010).
Strengths-based
practice is used here to
represent that thinking.

All of the academic literature on metal and adolescence is constructed by
adults, each of whom has undertaken a unique journey into the field. The
journey behind this article began unexpectedly during 2011, when the results
of a small-scale study were released to the media in order to generate interest
and recruit participants for a follow-up study about the relationship between
vulnerable teenagers and their music (McFerran et al. 2012). A cluster sample
of 110 Australian teenagers from a single school with a low socio-economic
status had participated in the original survey. The intent of the survey had
been to illustrate how teenagers engage pro-actively in selecting the form and
style of musical participation for different moods, influenced by the perspec-
tives of eight Finnish youth who described intentionally regulating their mood
through music listening (Saarikallio and Erkkila 2007). The voices of the young
people in Saarikallio’s study challenged assumptions in the music psychology
literature about teenagers being passive in their relationship with music. The
survey was intended to amplify these findings with a larger sample of young
Australian participants answering a range of survey questions from which
correlations were explored and that targetted pre-listening mood, listening
selection and post-listening mood. A brief measure of psychological distress
was also incorporated in order to show that those at-risk of depression were
equally conscious of their choices (Furukawa et al. 2003).
Some of the findings in this small-scale survey study confirmed the
hypotheses about successful and intentional uses of music by young people.
The results showed that the young people frequently used their preferred
music to enhance their mood and often reported feeling better after listening,
which was consistent with many survey studies of music and youth (North
et al. 2000; Saarikallio and Erkkila 2007; Wooten 1992). What was novel was
that this was most apparent in states of boredom and happiness and that
fewer students reported improvements after music listening for moods of
anger and sadness. Even more unexpected to the adult investigators was
that the only significant correlation identified in the Australian study was
between teenagers who scored as high-risk of psychological distress on
the Kessler 101 and a preference for metal music in general and across all
moods. When drilling down into the responses of the nineteen metal fans, it
became evident that this group consistently reported the least percentage of
improved moods through listening to music when sad, angry and stressed,
although they were equivalent with the rest of the cohort when initial mood
reported was bored or happy. For music therapists who typically advocate
for young people’s rights to access and utilize preferred music, this correla-
tion was intriguing. It challenged strengths-based2 assumptions that self-
selected music was always helpful, and it demanded further exploration. The
findings from the survey inspired a renewal of our own relationship with
metal music as adults, which have since been explored through a number
of studies that represent young people’s voices (McFerran 2012; McFerran
and Baird 2013). What is conspicuously absent in the scholarly discourse,
however, is the perspective of lay adults who had been metal fans during
their adolescence and who can now reflect on the role that metal music had
played during this important developmental stage. This study gives voice
to seven men who initiated contact with McFerran after hearing about the
results of the Australian survey and who wished to have their opinions
included in the discourse.
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Metal made me who I am
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
The findings from the small-scale Australian study are consistent with a pleth-
ora of studies that identify correlations between unhappy youth and hardcore
music, and this link is the foundation upon which the Parents Music Resource
debate was built in the 1980s (Arnett 1991; Singer et al. 1993; Verden et al.
1989; Wass et al. 1989). In a careful review of the empirical literature, North
and Hargreaves (2007) emphasized the important distinction between corre-
lational findings and those from experimental studies that suggest causa-
tion. They concluded that there is a relationship between hardcore music and
delinquent/criminal thoughts and behaviours; that music can prime behav-
iours; that this is probably not exclusive to mainstream American culture; that
the relationship is stronger, but not limited to, fans of rap and heavy rock; and
that the relationship is stronger among certain ‘vulnerable’ groups.
We contend that identifying a correlation between metal music and
vulnerable youth is not problematic in itself, but rather, it is the meaning that
is made of this relationship that is sometimes dangerous. The wild assertions
made by some powerful researchers provide ‘evidence’ that supports restric-
tive and punitive approaches by those in power. For example, as Head of a
Suicide Prevention unit, Steven Stack’s conclusions that heavy metal subcul-
ture and suicide are linked have an impact on policy-makers. However, his
research was based on a comparison of the number of heavy metal magazine
subscriptions as compared to data obtained from the annual Mortality Detail
Files in one American state (Stack et al. 1994). This link was then interpreted
to ‘prove’ that the greater the strength of heavy metal subculture, the greater
the youth suicide rate.
As music therapists, this impact has serious implications for the qual-
ity of support we are able to offer adults and adolescents in mental health
facilities. Although using a person’s preferred genre and style of music is
common practice in music therapy (Grocke and Wigram 2007), many insti-
tutions restrict access to hardcore music because of the negative associations
garnered by misinterpretations of the correlation that is persistently reported.
Since metal music is a genre that adolescents frequently list as their favoured
style of music (Doak 2003; Mulder et al. 2010; Schwartz and Fouts 2003), this
restricts our ability to engage vulnerable young people in shared music listen-
ing, song composition and even performances that express personal music
preferences, all of which are common music therapy methods with this age
group (McFerran 2010).
In a response to criticism about the heavy metal and pop music he used as
a music therapist in a correctional facility, Bushong (2002) undertook a review
of the literature that investigated metal music along with other popular styles
with regard to its deleterious effects with clients. He describes the two main
theoretical perspectives that shape the popular music/heavy metal debate as
‘drive reduction’ and ‘social learning’ theories. In the first, the value of cathar-
sis achieved from engaging with violent, heavy music is thought to be an
outlet for similar feelings and listening to this music is proposed to reduce
the potential for acting out aggressively in the real world. The second theory
suggests the opposite, posing that listening to this music promotes those very
behaviours the music espouses through imitation. Given the complex nature
of the transaction between people and music, Bushong insightfully concludes
that, ‘Most likely, popular music is both a reflection of, and an exacerbating
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Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
208
influence on, attitudes, values and behaviours, when the idiosyncrasies of the
individual and the stimulus are considered’ (Bushong 2002: 77).
Despite the fact that scholarly thinking has altered slightly in the past
decade with regards to metal music and its use and effect on adolescents, it is
still apparent that much of research insists on exploring metal music and its
relationship to pathologic behaviour, whether it is an attempt to confirm or
negate this association. Brown deftly explains how the dominance of inves-
tigations from disciplines such as criminology and psychology have naturally
shaped the discourse in this direction:
Academic psychology views the music and culture of heavy metal as a
problem, one that needs to be scientifically studied in order to identify
an objective measure of the ‘effect’ or influence of the music culture on
antisocial, delinquent and deviant behaviour.
(2011: 223–24)
Rafalovich (2006) has also described how a continued approach in this direc-
tion will limit our understanding of metal music and the way we perceive it
to interrelate with individuals and in society. Brown and Hendee (1989) chal-
lenged conventional research methods for examining music and behaviour
over twenty years ago, suggesting that engaging with music is an individ-
ual and complex experience and by virtue of this, it is resistant to traditional
research methods.
In examining the literature exploring the effects of metal music on listen-
ers during the decade of 2000, it is clear that there has been some expansion
in terms of both research methodologies and cultural breadth. For example,
Halnon (2004) collected data from observations and informal interviews with
the explicit intention of challenging the assertions that heavy metal music
attracts only angry, white, working class youth. Her research showed that
metal music attracted people from all walks of life that broadened the class
representation and age group of this fan base. Snell and Hodgetts (2007) used
observational, visual and verbal qualitative methods to further understand
the community practice that metal music involvement creates. This emphasis
on building communities through music rather than informing pathology is
a strong theme in current discourse, and this can be seen as congruent with
earlier research suggesting that metal music attracts alienated, unhappy youth,
since they stand to benefit significantly from a sense of increased belonging
to a peer group.
With the exception of these authors, few qualitative enquiries about the
experience of metal music for young people have been conducted without
the undercurrent of associated pathology. Most youth studies have drawn
on reports and perspectives from adolescents at that moment in their life.
This is understandable, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s when metal
music first became popular, but now those adolescents have grown into
adults and as Halnon (2004) has highlighted, a large number of adults now
comprise the metal music demographic. The aim of this study is to investi-
gate adolescent experiences of metal music from the vantage point of adult-
hood. A qualitative enquiry to elicit fresh perspectives from adults about
the ways that metal musical engagement impacted their mental health has
been absent in the literature to date. This data could provide insight into
the value of metal music experiences for adolescents that have not yet been
empirically generated.
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Metal made me who I am
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
Participants
After gaining ethics approval from the University of Melbourne Human
Research Ethics Committee (#1135548), ten individuals (including one
woman) were approached to participate in e-mail interviews. This group was
identified from a total of 79 individuals who had dialogued with McFerran
via e-mail (sometimes involving up to four subsequent e-mails to clarify the
correct results of the research) immediately following the media reporting of
the Australian survey described in the introduction. The ten were selected
because they had freely offered to be involved in future research as part of
that dialogue. Seven adult male participants agreed to participate in the study
and were provided with a plain language statement that explained the focus
would be on their story about how music influenced their own mental health,
particularly during adolescence. The participants were aged between 24 and
39, representing diverse nationalities including Australia, Finland, France,
Holland, Italy, Russia and Turkey.
Data collection
E-mail interviews were used to collect data, and a recursive model of question-
ing was adopted, as described by Minicheillo et al. (1995) where the research
technique is altered to treat the participants as unique. The list of questions
(below) provided a foundation for all of the interviews, however depending
on the type of answers provided, other questions were also asked of some
participants and not of others.
What inspired your interest in metal music initially?•
Did you listen to any other genres of music?•
How often did you engage with the music?•
How did it make you feel during this engagement?•
What did metal music mean to you?•
What did you learn from it?•
As an adult reflecting back do you feel the same or differently about how •
the music influenced you at the time?
On average, ten to fifteen e-mails were exchanged with each participant, with
the data from the most prolific participant totalling ten pages, whilst the mini-
mum data for one participant was three pages.
Data analysis
An inductive approach was adopted to the data that was informed by the
phenomenological approach of Giorgi (1975). Giorgi’s emphasis is on descrip-
tions that are reduced to an essence through processes of imaginative variation
(1997), and where the phenomenon is examined from a range of perspectives.
Finlay (2009) further delineates a phenomenological approach as one that
refrains from interpreting the description through a particular framework, and
instead emphasizes the description of things as they appear.
In this project, analysis was undertaken following McFerran and Grocke’s
(2007) procedural steps, described as phenomenological microanalysis.
Consistent with most approaches using phenomenology, this began with the
reflexive exercise of generating an epoche that supported the researchers in
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Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
210
identifying assumptions about the phenomenon under investigation. Having
bracketed previous understandings in order to focus on the available descrip-
tions, we then identified key statements (Colaizzi 1978) and subsequently
undertook two stages of imaginative variation that involved identifying struc-
tural and experienced meaning units. This is derived from Moustakas’s descrip-
tions of noema and noesis (1990). Individual essences were then created that
provided a rich description of each participant’s data, and these were sent
to the participants via e-mail in order to ensure that they were acceptable to
the informant. Changes were made where suggested. This verification process
was drawn from Colaizzi’s (1978) work.
Further imaginative variation was then invoked in order to identify themes
across the varied descriptions. Drawing inspiration from Spinelli’s (1994)
descriptions of horizonalization in phenomenology, these themes were labelled
as common, significant or individual, and no hierarchy of importance was
ascribed to themes that were mutually agreed in comparison to those that were
unique to one individual. These shared themes are presented as the results.

Fourteen themes were deduced from the data of all seven participants and these
are presented in Table 1. In the subsequent discussion, the meaning units from
the individual interviews that contributed to the construction of these themes
will be shared to illustrate how these themes were generated. The themes are
labelled as common, significant or individual, with common themes including
ideas of five to seven participants who described similar meaning experiences,
significant themes including data from three to seven participants, and indi-
vidual themes being informed by one to two participants. Each table includes
quotes from the interviews to transparently illustrate the basis for the theme.
Pseudonyms for each participant are used in the following tables. This
allows the reader to explore sets of opinions shared by any one individual,
without compromising confidentiality. However one participant e-mailed six
months later to request the use of his actual name. Each of the themes will
Table 1: Summary of collective themes across all participants.
Engaging emotions and feelings: Common theme
Validating emotions and feelings: Common theme
Self-acceptance: Significant theme
Positive energy: Significant theme
Sensing power: Individual theme
Learning about other issues through metal music: Significant theme
Making contact with others through metal music: Significant theme
Identity development: Significant theme
Being absolutely united with metal: Individual theme
Connecting to shared social values: Significant theme
Expanding musicality: Individual theme
Writing, performing and playing metal music: Individual theme
Intentionally pushing through the experience of metal being a
misunderstood noise: Individual theme
Using metal as protection: Individual theme
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Metal made me who I am
211
be presented and discussed in the context of the literature in order to offer
further explanation. A final distiled essence will be offered in conclusion.
Emotions and feelings
It appeared from the participants’ responses that the terms, emotions and feel-
ings were used interchangeably and thus for the purposes of analysis it was
most useful to categorize these terms together and interpret them as such
from the data (see Tables 2 and 3).
Both engaging and validating emotions and feelings were the most
common themes that continually re-emerged in the data. The emotions and
feelings experienced by the participants when they engaged with metal music
during adolescence ranged from sadness to elation, and references to anger
were also frequently made. Maartin, Tali, Alex, Simon and Mikhail described
being able to engage with more difficult emotions such as anger and sadness
with metal music and made specific reference to feeling better because of this.
Mikhail spoke of the importance for him to feel these emotions through metal
music and felt that they could have otherwise been unhealthily suppressed,
especially given that the culture in his immediate environment discouraged
the acknowledgement of strong emotion.
Baker et al. (2007) discuss the concept of experiential avoidance, a phenom-
enon that occurs when people adopt certain behaviours that can be harm-
ful, such as drug abuse, in order to avoid certain negative emotions. They
describe recent cognitive behavioural therapy approaches that address
the person’s tolerance to a range of negative affective responses and conclude
with a recommendation that ‘clinicians include interventions that encourage
the exploration of negative emotions so that clients can experience these in
Not feeling alone with certain emotions and views (Maartin)
Angry music matching mood and providing solace (Simon)
Metal music matching energy, validating feelings and providing
self-assurance (Tali)
Angry music fitting mood (Maartin)
Feeling understood and not alone with metal music (Simon)
Metal music matching feelings about society and my own world (Alex)
Validating that experienced emotions are not to be afraid of (Mikhail)
Table 3: Validating emotions and feelings (common theme).
Passively releasing emotions and feeling calm (Luca)
Drawing angry emotions out and leaving me relaxed (Simon)
Expressing and feeling emotion (Maartin)
Being able to revel and immerse in emotion and energy (Mikhail)
Using metal to engage with sad and melancholic feelings (Theo)
Being able to experience a range of feelings (Alex)
Channelling feelings of anger and sadness productively (Maartin)
Table 2: Engaging emotions and feelings (common theme).
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212
a safe environment’ (Baker et al. 2007: 321). Many of the participants in this
study described using metal music as their safe environment for experiencing
these difficult emotions. It seemed as though they engaged with this music to
specifically confront these feelings so they would not be avoided. As Maartin
remarked, ‘if it wasn’t for that music, I would have no idea how to express my
anger and sadness other than by using unhealthy methods’.
In one of the first experimental music therapy studies specific to heavy
metal music, Wooten (1992) explored the effects of heavy metal on the
emotional responses of adolescents in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Her
results, which were at odds with the prevailing public concerns at the time,
indicated that participants with a preference for heavy metal had a signifi-
cant increase in their mood after heavy metal exposure. The results from
her study were consistent with what some of the participants in this study
reported about the benefits from listening to metal music. Individuals from
her study described feeling calm and relaxed after listening to metal, which is
how Luca and Simon described their experience (see Table 2). Wooten (1992:
96) discussed the concept of metal music therapeutically validating the feel-
ings of despair and anger that the adolescents experienced, although none of
the participants in this study used the term therapeutic in their descriptions.
Perhaps a similar therapeutic experience is occurring between the
adolescent and his/her music. Acknowledgement of the emotional
turmoil expressed through the music is enough to cause the adolescent
to ‘feel good’.
Wooten concluded her discussion by advocating for the use of metal music
in music therapy if that was the preference of the young person and believed
that discussing the themes in the music with the therapist could lead to
greater understanding of their emotional issues and also highlight different
coping methods.
Some of the participants in our study also spoke of their ability to gain
further insight into their emotions through the metal themes. For exam-
ple, Theo stated that often metal songs would make him feel more sad or
melancholic but it allowed him to engage in the feeling and then he some-
how felt better afterwards. This is consistent with studies by Arnett (1991)
who described metal music as having a purgative function that helped to quell
the adolescent’s emotions, particularly anger. Arnett proposed possible bene-
fits of prescribing heavy metal for adolescents who might have an inclina-
tion for aggression, although he did acknowledge that some adolescents felt
worse immediately after music listening and only later found their negative
feelings were somewhat alleviated. The opposite conclusion was reached in
a study showing that participants who listened to heavy metal experienced
greater levels of anxiety after music listening (Labbe et al. 2007). However,
these researchers did not distinguish between the two different time frames of
immediately after, and some time after music listening as the other authors and
the participants in this study have done.
Based on his analysis of the content of 603 metal songs, Rafalovich (2006)
argues that what gives metal its tremendous appeal to the majority of young
males is its depiction of masculine suffering and that many of the themes in
metal are in contrast to the prescribed stereotypes that deem it inappropriate
for a man to expose his vulnerability. In our study, Simon referred to feelings
of sadness during adolescence and how his father perceived these feelings as
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Metal made me who I am
213
a weak characteristic, particularly in males. Metal music for him seemed to
validate that there were other men who also felt sadness and that he was not
alone in experiencing this. Tali and Maartin admired the adult men in metal
bands and their ability to scream. They saw expressions of emotion that they
aspired to. As Maartin explained: ‘I almost felt like I wasn’t just crying, I was
crying with someone. Someone who was just like me, who could help me.
That already made me feel less sad’. It seems that in a climate of masculin-
ity that is characterized by stoicism or the suppression of emotion there will
always be a male audience for music that espouses the antithesis of this.
Personal strength
Very little literature addresses the concept of self-acceptance in relation to
metal music. Halnon (2004) alluded to the idea that being apart of the metal
subculture fostered acceptance from others through tolerance and egalitarian-
ism, however she did not discuss the more intra-personal aspects of self-ac-
ceptance. Data from participants gathered under the theme of self-acceptance
suggests that this was a more internalized phenomenon (see Table 4). It
appeared from the data that this state of self-acceptance may have developed
as a consequence to having their feelings repeatedly validated by the themes
and form of expression in the music. In a sense, being able to accept oneself
was a more permanent state of feeling validated.
Four of the participants described their ability to become energized, moti-
vated, and excited and to develop a sense of confidence and courage through
listening to metal music (see Table 5). This is congruent with the findings
of both Arnett (1991) and Wooten (1992) who discussed how the adoles-
cents in their studies commonly reported a heightened level of energy and an
inducement of positive mood states. Similarly, Gowensmith and Bloom (1997)
suggest that participants who listen to heavy metal music experience a more
heightened sense of arousal than those who listened to other genres, and this
seems implicit in the descriptions contributing to the ‘positive energy’ theme.
Two of the participants described being attracted to intensity in the sound
of the music (see Table 6). Although it could be inferred that this gave them a
Metal making up for low self-esteem (Tali)
Self-acceptance (Mikhail)
Accepting myself (Maartin)
Being able to see beauty in sadness, anger and despair (Tali)
Table 4: Self-acceptance (significant theme).
Using metal to motivate (Luca)
Metal music made me feel energized, confident, courageous and euphoric
(Theo)
Feeling elated and excited with a sense of appreciation and respect for
metal music (Tali)
Using metal music to improve mood (Alex)
Table 5: Positive energy (significant theme).
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Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
214
feeling of power, they did not state this explicitly. Rafalovich (2006) has made
reference to the concept of power in his analysis of the themes in popular
heavy metal songs. He noted that the common narrative in many of the songs
is of a dominant self that has victory over perceived forces of repression. This
association of power however, refers more to the ideological content in the
lyrics rather than the physical and auditory mountain of sound that was referred
to by the participants in this study.
Exploring the world
One theme that emerged through the analysis but is relatively absent in
the literature is the different types of learning that took place through the
exposure of metal music (see Table 7). Alex particularly made reference to
metal as a vehicle for him to expand his consciousness about global issues.
Both Luca and Simon explored religious and anti-religious themes through
metal and this contributed to their understanding of, and current personal
beliefs about, religion and spirituality today. Simon was the only participant
to mention his involvement with the occult and this was in the form of read-
ing material about Satanism, demonology and folk tales. Metal seemed to be
one avenue for supporting the participants’ adolescent quest for self-discovery
that occurred in a particular cultural context within which a teen may either
choose to rebel or conform.
Three of the participants talked about the various personal contacts
they had made through discovering and sharing metal music (see Table 8).
Looking for new metal music fostered and continued these contacts during
adolescence. Although Maartin described himself as shy during this time, he
found that playing metal in a band at school was the medium that helped him
to socialize with other students. At a juncture when Tali felt his network of
friends was limited, he consciously used metal as a tool to help him forge new
relationships with other people.
These strategies are in keeping with the ideas of Reddick and Beresin who
state that ‘Allegiance to a form of music is allegiance to those who make it, a
way to friendship and kinship, and a road to personal identity through belong-
ing’ (2002: 51). Previously undocumented complexities also emerged in the
data however, with Tali also reflecting on how he simultaneously used metal
to isolate himself and build connections. Although this may be understood as
Listening to the powerful, in your face, mountain of sound (Mikhail)
Liking the extremeness, pressure and violence in the music (Luca)
Table 6: Sensing power (individual theme).
Learning English language and cultural references (Theo)
Exploring a curiosity about death and the occult (Simon)
Allowing for new thoughts and development of consciousness (Alex)
Liking transgressive lyrics and music that dealt with the absence of god
(Luca)
Table 7: Learning about other issues through metal music (significant theme).
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Metal made me who I am
215
developmentally appropriate individuation, Tali considers that he may have
used his music tastes in metal to further alienate himself.
It (metal music) meant that I could separate myself from the rest. The
tricky part is knowing that this is only partially true – because in all prob-
ability, it didn’t differentiate me, but only served to justify my differenti-
ation. I was always an outcast, which although providing me with some
small measure of pride, also meant I was more isolated. I thought both
that I could justify this by going for the minority tastes but I also used it
to isolate myself further. It’s kind of a vicious cycle I guess.
Three participants spoke specifically about metal music in relation to their
identity during adolescence (see Table 9). Alex reflected on adopting the metal
dress code and following the rules of being a metal kid and how this was a
way for him to be recognized as someone who was against the system. This
is also reported in the academic literature by Snell and Hodgetts (2007: 437)
who confirm that ‘metal stylisation is presented as a response to and rejec-
tion of mainstream dictates of taste and style’. Theo also remembered feeling
like he was rebelling against something by listening to metal, which he now
perceives to be more about developing his independence from authority. Both
Theo and Alex articulated how this development of identity was closely linked
to connecting with others with similar social values that will be explored
under Table 11.
For Tali, metal music also meant being different and he purposefully used
it as an exercise in individuality. Miranda and Claes (2009) note that research
is gradually recognizing the importance of music listening in the development
of an adolescent’s identity, irrespective of genre. Reddick and Beresin (2002:
59) claim that ‘In all rebellious rhapsodies, the music provides a tool for the
adolescent to re-examine and re-question assumptions of earlier stages of
development in the service of separation and individuation’.
Two of the participants described such an intense connection between
their entire being and music that we combined them into a separate individ-
ual theme (see Table 10). Neither of these participants explicitly made refer-
ence to the development of their identity with metal and their reflections on
Making contact with others who introduced new metal music (Simon)
Helping social situations in high school (Maartin)
Repeatedly listening to metal music to try and understand the harshness
and noise. Wanting to ‘get it’ in order to gain some common points with
potential friends (Tali)
Using metal to isolate myself (negative case example) (Tali)
Table 8: Making contact with others through metal music (significant theme).
Development of identity and differentiation (Tali)
Rebellion and identity development (Theo)
Development of identity through metal (Alex)
Table 9: Identity development (significant theme).
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Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
216
this topic have therefore not been discussed previously. However, it can be
implied that this is what they are illustrating with statements such as born to
love and unable to live without metal. The fact that each associated their entire
existence with metal music might indicate an even stronger, more complex
relationship with the music than the other participants. Arnett (1991: 92)
highlighted a similar phenomenon with the interviewees in his study.
It is not just a musical preference to them, but an intense avocation that
shapes their view of the world, their spending habits, their moods, their
friendships, their notions of who and what is admirable, and their hopes
for what they might become.
(Arnett 1991)
Another level of connectedness was described by participants who
valued the opportunity to identify with others who have similar social values
and ways of thinking (see Table 11). Theo described it as ‘identifying your-
self with people who think independently and do not respect authority for
authority’s sake’. Alex stated, ‘I assume that if they (other people) listen
to it (metal) they are also close to “my world” and my way of thinking’.
Tilley observes that the ‘social negotiation of a shared identity is non-verbal’
(in Snell and Hodgetts 2007: 435) and this is where metal music appeared
to resonate with these participants. Maartin describes his belief that metal
fans and musicians are connected by a deep feeling of being different to the
‘happy’ part of society.
A number of authors have described how this desire for connection comes
from an existing state of isolation, with Arnett (1993) describing isolation as
one of the shared themes of union between metal music fans. Halnon (2004)
discusses the dis-alienating aspects of metal subcultures and how they can
provide a sense of community and an alternative to the commercialized
mainstream. Similarly, Reddick and Beresin (2002: 59) state that ‘the music
of adolescents becomes a way to belong while pushing toward identification
with those who stand for what parents, the police, opponents of free speech,
and the government abhor’.
Two participants spoke specifically about respecting the musicality of
metal during their adolescence and intentionally sought to expand their musi-
cal horizons and develop their own individual taste (see Table 12). Much of
the literature around adolescent engagement with metal music tends to focus
Yes, I’ve arrived, like I was born to love metal (Simon)
Unable to live without my passion for playing metal (Maartin)
Table 10: Being absolutely united with metal (individual theme).
Identifying with a tribe of independent thinkers (Theo)
Connection with a group of people who feel the same about society and
music (Maartin)
Belonging to a group of people of my way of thinking (Alex)
Table 11: Connecting to shared social values (significant theme).
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Metal made me who I am
217
on emotional and behavioural responses rather than a passion for the music
itself. Arnett (1991) is one exception, as he refers to the musicality of metal
suggesting that most of the adolescents he interviewed were attracted to the
virtuosity and talent of the performers.
The experience of playing metal music and performing in bands was a
significant part of adolescence for Simon and Maartin (see Table 13). Maartin
spoke of being more emotionally detached from the music when he was trying
to learn his drum parts, however once they were learnt, he connected with
the associated emotion and described this as ‘one of the best feelings there
is’. Simon played with bands formed from school and jammed with friends
outside of this. At the age of eighteen Simon was invited to play for one of the
bigger named bands in his city and this is when he considered his involve-
ment as serious. More research of the emotional and physiological responses
to playing metal music is needed, since much of the literature regarding metal
music and adolescents is more focussed on listening rather than playing or
performance.
Two participants discussed an unexpected phenomenon where they
initially could not decipher the musicality in metal and did not enjoy listen-
ing to it (see Table 14). Both Alex and Tali originally found the music harsh
and referred to it as noise, yet they both intentionally pursued listening to
it, repeatedly. Tali’s motivation was described earlier as his desire to make
connections with new friends who also enjoyed this music but as he describes
it, in the process of doing so he then fell in love with what he thought was the
essence of the music. Alex did not make reference to any ulterior motives to
pursue listening to metal but described being fascinated with the unfamiliar
new sound. With repeated listening his curiosity converted into passion. This
type of experience of intentionally acquiring a taste for metal has not been
described previously in the literature.
Discovering heavier more depressive and aggressive music (Luca)
Exploring musical horizon (Maartin)
Developing musical taste (Luca)
Table 12: Expanding musicality (individual theme).
Writing and performing metal music (Simon)
Unable to live without my passion for playing metal (Maartin)
Table 13: Writing, performing and playing metal (individual theme).
Initially being fascinated by and unprepared to understand the ‘noise’ and
energy in metal music (Alex)
Repeatedly listening to metal music to try and understand the harshness
and noise (Tali)
Wanting to ‘get it’ in order to gain some common points with potential
friends (Tali)
Table 14: Intentionally pushing past the experience of metal being a misunderstood
noise (individual theme).
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Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
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Both Mikhail and Tali described their use of metal as providing a protec-
tive context. Mikhail was less specific about how he did this but his use of
the word refuge certainly implies that this was the case. The data suggests
that metal music provided a place of protection for him to express how he
felt without being judged in the process. In contrast Tali was quite specific
about how he used metal music to detach from his suicidal inclinations during
adolescence.
I think metal taught me to cope with my unending suicidal compul-
sions: the themes of suicide and death are very common in metal,
and having these themes run through an important part of my life
allowed me to sort of detach these thoughts and urges from myself
and observe them from the outside, and helped me understand how
illogical it all is. Without it, I don’t think I could have survived this
long.
Paradoxically, Tali also stated that sometimes the themes of death and
suicide in metal were not helpful and that sometimes they could also trigger
these compulsions, thus indicating the multidimensional aspects of his rela-
tionship with this music during this challenging time in his life. Although
there is some literature that explores correlations between metal music
listening and suicide vulnerability (Scheel and Westefeld 1999; Stack et al.
1994), the double-edged mechanism that Tali describes to circumvent his
suicidal ideation with the music is distinctive. Although this connection is
rarely explored in formal academic discourse, there is increasing exploration
of individual experiences in both refereed (McFerran and Baird in press),
and un-refereed online discourse (see http://www.popmatters.com/pm/
tools/full/169669/ for example).
Using metal to detach from suicidal thoughts and urges (Tali)
Using metal music as a place of refuge (Mikhail)
Table 15: Using metal as protection (individual theme).
Final distilled essence
Of these seven adults of different nationalities, reflecting back and describ-
ing how they experienced metal music as an adolescent, the majority refer to
engaging with emotions and feelings, particularly sadness and anger, through
their music. This engagement with metal has also helped to validate their
emotions and enabled them to feel less alone and somewhat more under-
stood when feeling this way.
A significant number of participants gained positive energy from metal
music that helped to motivate and energize them. This also elicited feelings of
courage and confidence, a sense of power, self-assurance and self-acceptance
during their adolescent years.
Some participants felt that metal contributed to learning about other
issues in the world, such as religion, death and politics. They also described
how music assisted to establish contact with people and help them identify
groups of others who shared similar social values and ways of thinking. This
IJCM_7.2_HinesMcFerran_205-222.indd 218 8/19/14 1:17:39 PM
Metal made me who I am
219
in turn engendered a feeling of being a part of a group. In one case, metal
music paradoxically isolated one person from others at the same time as he
was trying to make these connections.
Many individual experiences were related to using metal to expand musi-
cality, whether it be listening to or playing and performing metal music. In
some cases the experience of listening to metal music was used as a form of
protection or refuge but the music did not always fulfil on this function and
sometimes triggered unsafe compulsions.
Some participants gained a sense of their own identity through listen-
ing to metal and being involved in the metal culture. Two participants felt so
united with metal music that they believed they could not live without it or
that they were born to love it.

The results of this study demonstrate the myriad of ways that these seven
men engaged with metal music when they were adolescents. It is fascinating
to observe the contrast between the rich reflections of these individuals and
the results of quantified data exploring the same phenomenon. The phenom-
enological analysis allowed for the experienced voice of these seven men to
be clearly represented, however the small number of participants clearly does
not provide a foundation for any kind of generalizations to be made about
how this represents the opinions of others beyond the consistencies with the
literature explained above. In addition, the nature of recruitment means that
the participants are passionate metal fans, since they not only communicated
with McFerran immediately and enthusiastically following the misreporting of
her study results, but they also had the initiative to suggest their own involve-
ment in further studies. Since most participants were writing in a language
that was secondary to them, this suggests that they were well-educated as
well as deeply committed to their preferred, metal genre. This study therefore
illustrates the views of seven passionate metal fans reflecting after a passage
of time on an experience that occurred up to twenty years ago. The results
should not be mistaken as an attempt to present non-biased accounts, but
rather as a representation of one perspective that has not been presented in
the academic literature to date.
In the survey study reported at the outset of this article, many young people
scored themselves as feeling worse following engagement with their preferred
music (metal) when in negative moods. Whilst this possibility is present in the
data collected from these seven adults, it is not privileged above the positive
experiences. Rather, the aggregated data suggests that both types of experi-
ences can coexist and be exposed through different types of questions, as well
as different ways of analysing answers. A review of literature exploring the
relationship between music, youth and depression revealed a similar finding
(McFerran et al. 2013), with qualitative investigations reporting only positive
outcomes, and negative outcomes only being reported in quantitative studies.
The recognition of coexisting realities is critical and deserves further attention.
Music therapists have long argued that all types of musical preferences
should be accepted and utilized in supporting adolescents (McFerran 2010).
This research shows that metal music afforded opportunities to energize,
boost confidence and act as a tool to explore personal and global issues for
these seven men. It also shows that metal music can be an effective facilitator
for adolescent emotional expression and provide validation for difficult feelings
IJCM_7.2_HinesMcFerran_205-222.indd 219 8/19/14 1:17:39 PM
Michelle Hines | Katrina Skewes McFerran
220
such as anger and sadness. These adults describe how exploring the dark
themes in the music can lead to further insight into their emotions and thus
potentially promote regulation of these in a safe environment. Care needs to
be taken however, since engaging in dark themes may not always be helpful
for adolescents and this is potentially a delicate process.
Neither simplistic nor dualistic perspectives on the relationship between
young metal fans and their mental health are appropriate. Adolescence is a
time of rich development. Metal music is a vast territory, within which there is
substantial discourse and debate about sub-genres and styles. Understandings
of mental health are equally diverse, and there are no simple answers about
what helps and what hinders, and where and when this is the case. The
results of this study support a continued exploration of this fascinating area
using assorted methodologies and seeking patterns without desiring simple
answers. The link between metal music and vulnerable youth is clear, but
what it means is yet to be well understood.

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International Journal of Community Music 7: 2, pp. 205–222, doi: 10.1386/
ijcm.7.2.205_1

Michelle Hines (MMusThrp) is a Registered Music Therapist (RMT). She has
previously worked as an occupational therapist and performing musician before
qualifying as a music therapist from The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Professor Katrina McFerran (Ph.D., RMT) is Head of Music Therapy and
Co-Director of the National Music Therapy Research Unit at the University
of Melbourne.
E-mail: kskewes@unimelb.edu.au
Michelle Hines and Katrina Skewes McFerran have asserted their right under
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the authors
of this work in the format that was submitted to Intellect Ltd.
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... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... Baker & Brown, 2016). Correlational links between heavy metal music and suicide have driven policy decisions, and some mental health and correctional institutions have restricted access to such music (see Hines & McFerran, 2014;Rosenbaum & Prinsky, 1991 for discussions). Acts of violence within the heavy metal community (e.g., assault, rape, murder) have also shaped attitudes towards this music (e.g., see Phillipov, 2011, for a discussion about violence within the Norwegian Black Metal community). ...
Article
Full-text available
Concerns have been raised that prolonged exposure to heavy metal music with aggressive themes can increase the risk of aggression, anger, antisocial behaviour, substance use, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression in community and psychiatric populations. Although research often relies on correlational evidence for which causal inferences are not possible, it is often claimed that music with aggressive themes can cause psychological and behavioural problems. This narrative review of theory and evidence suggests the issues are more complicated, and that fans typically derive a range of emotional and social benefits from listening to heavy metal music, including improved mood, identity formation, and peer affiliation. In contrast, non-fans of heavy metal music-who are often used as participants in experimental research on this topic-invariably report negative psychological experiences. Our review considers a comprehensive set of empirical findings that inform clinical strategies designed to identify fans for whom heavy metal music may confer psychological and behavioural risks, and those for whom this music may confer psychosocial benefits.
... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... Baker & Brown, 2016). Correlational links between heavy metal music and suicide have driven policy decisions, and some mental health and correctional institutions have restricted access to such music (see Hines & McFerran, 2014;Rosenbaum & Prinsky, 1991 for discussions). Acts of violence within the heavy metal community (e.g., assault, rape, murder) have also shaped attitudes towards this music (e.g., see Phillipov, 2011, for a discussion about violence within the Norwegian Black Metal community). ...
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Full-text available
Concerns have been raised that prolonged exposure to heavy metal music with aggressive themes can increase the risk of aggression, anger, antisocial behaviour, substance use, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression in community and psychiatric populations. Although research often relies on correlational evidence for which causal inferences are not possible, it is often claimed that music with aggressive themes can cause psychological and behavioural problems. This narrative review of theory and evidence suggests the issues are more complicated, and that fans typically derive a range of emotional and social benefits from listening to heavy metal music, including improved mood, identity formation, and peer affiliation. In contrast, non-fans of heavy metal music — who are often used as participants in experimental research on this topic — invariably report negative psychological experiences. Our review considers a comprehensive set of empirical findings that inform clinical strategies designed to identify fans for whom heavy metal music may confer psychological and behavioural risks, and those for whom this music may confer psychosocial benefits.
... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... There is also limited evidence to justify serious concerns about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to heavy metal, yet such concerns persist and have influenced social attitudes and policy decision-making at political and institutional levels. In some cases, there have been calls for certain music groups to be banned entirely (for discussions of music censorship, see Chastagner, 1999;Cooper, 2011;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Peters, 2019;Savage, 2018;Wright, 2000; for the perspectives of fans, see Hines & McFerran, 2014). Despite these public concerns, many adolescents and young adults report that music enhances their social and emotional wellbeing, including music with aggressive themes (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014;McFerran et al., 2015;North et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2019). ...
... Baker & Brown, 2016). Correlational links between heavy metal music and suicide have driven policy decisions, and some mental health and correctional institutions have restricted access to such music (see Hines & McFerran, 2014;Rosenbaum & Prinsky, 1991 for discussions). Acts of violence within the heavy metal community (e.g., assault, rape, murder) have also shaped attitudes towards this music (e.g., see Phillipov, 2011, for a discussion about violence within the Norwegian Black Metal community). ...
Article
Full-text available
Concerns have been raised that prolonged exposed to heavy metal music with aggressive themes can increase the risk of aggression, anger, antisocial behaviour, substance use, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression in community and psychiatric populations. Although research often relies on correlational evidence for which causal inferences are not possible, it is often claimed that music with aggressive themes can cause psychological and behavioural problems. This narrative review of theory and evidence suggests the issues are more complicated, and that fans typically derive a range of emotional and social benefits from listening to heavy metal music, including improved mood, identity formation, and peer affiliation. In contrast, non-fans of heavy metal music — who are often used as participants in experimental research on this topic — invariably report negative psychological experiences. Our review considers a comprehensive set of empirical findings that inform clinical strategies designed to identify fans for whom heavy metal music may confer psychological and behavioural risks, and those for whom this music may confer psychosocial benefits.
... Qualitative data obtained by Hines and McFerran (2014) also yielded similar results in males who reported a strong affinity for metal music. Specifically, these individuals reported that this style of music was beneficial in allowing them to validate difficult emotions, gain positive energy, find out about various social issues, and negotiate social networks. ...
... Maybe if you dislike extreme intense/extreme music. However, fans of these genres tend to cite positive themes that undergird their preferences (e.g., validating emotions, selfacceptance, positive energy; see Hines & McFerran, 2014), such that "extreme music [does] not make [them] angrier; rather, it result[s] in an increase in positive emotions" (Sharman & Dingle, 2015, p. 1). In the right contexts for the right people, intense music may be therapeutic and beneficial, and social scientists should use caution when making sweeping generalizations about fans of certain genres as listeners have commented that listening to extreme music genres can reduce negative emotions by methods of distraction, validation, and catharsis (Shifriss, Bodner, & Palgi, 2015). ...
Article
The present study sought to examine the relationship between musical preference and aspects of aggression in a United States of America community sample. A total of 400 adults (M age = 34.14; 50.3% female) completed the Short Test of Musical Preference, Revised (STOMP-R), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed., DSM-5) Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure, and several aggression questionnaires aimed at assessing normative beliefs about aggression and prior history of aggressive behaviors. Results of correlational analyses revealed significant relationships between all examined musical genres and psychopathology. Results of regression analyses revealed the presence of psychopathology as the main contributor to scores across aggression measures, with age and gender variables also varying in their significance. Importantly, preference for intense and rebellious musical genres (i.e., alternative, rock, punk, and heavy metal) was a nonsignificant predictor across all aggression questionnaires. As such, the current results do not support a correlational nor causal link between intense and/or rebellious musical preference and aggressive behaviors.
... Self or identity-related functions are also very important. In addition to identity construction, especially in adolescence [37][38][39], other functions include identity management, expression and reinforcement of individual values and attitudes, self-reflection and exploration, and trying out and expressing different aspects of personality [40][41][42] as well as finding meaning in life, or absorption and distraction from reality [43]. ...
Article
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With a few exceptions, musical taste has been researched via likes or preferences of certain types of music. The present study focuses on disliked music and takes a broad approach to cover explanatory strategies related to personal dislikes. Methods In-depth interviews were conducted with 21 participants in five age groups. Interviewees were asked to prepare a list of their disliked music, and for each item they were asked about the reasons for the dislike. To ensure that the complexity and range of the participants’ dislikes and rationales were captured in the analysis, a structuring content analysis as a mostly theory-driven approach was combined with inductive category creation out of the interview data. The most often mentioned type of dislike was musical style, followed by artist and genre. Five main reference points were identified for describing musical dislikes: the music itself, lyrics, performance, artist, and the people who listen to it. The identified rationales for disliked music were assigned to three larger categories: object-related reasons, such as music-compositional aspects, aesthetic dichotomies or lyrics; subject-related reasons, such as emotional or bodily effects, or discrepancies with the self-image; social reasons, which refer to one’s social environment and the taste judgments common to it (in-group) or to other groups of which the participants do not feel part of (out-group). Apart from the rationales for disliked music, the participants described specific reactions when they are confronted with their disliked music, such as emotional, physical, and social reactions. While musical dislikes have already been shown to fulfill important social functions, the current study extends the rationales to music-related and self-related reasons. Musical dislikes fulfill similar functions to liked music, such as preservation of a good mood, identity expression and construction, strengthening of group cohesion as well as social distinction.
... On the other hand, the 54 focus has been on the study of the functions music serves for an individual, where (preferred) 55 music is evaluated by its suitability to certain purposes and on the use of music in everyday 56 life (Boer et al., 2012;Greb et al., 2017;Hargreaves & North, 1999;North et al., 2004;57 Self or identity-related functions are also very important. In addition to identity construction, 126 especially in adolescence (Ackermann, 2014, p. 113;Hines & McFerran, 2014;Laiho, 2004), 127 other functions include identity management, expression and reinforcement of individual 128 values and attitudes, self-reflection and exploration, and trying out and expressing different 129 aspects of personality (Dolfsma, 1999;Rentfrow, 2012;Schäfer & Sedlmeier, 2010) as well 130 as finding meaning in life, or absorption and distraction from reality (Schäfer et al., 2013). 131 ...
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Music serves to satisfy emotional and social needs. In its individual quality as liked or disliked music, it can also be used to create and affirm one’s own identity. While studies on musical preferences are abundant, dislikes have rarely been considered in musical taste research. The current study is centered on the rationales and functions of musical dislikes using semi-structured interviews with participants from different age groups (N = 21). The observed rationales for disliked music followed three main themes of (1) object-related reasons such as the composition, the lyrics, and aesthetic dichotomies, (2) subject-related reasons such as emotions evoked – or not evoked – in the listener, physical reactions, self-related and normative reasons such as a mismatch with the self-image, and (3) social reasons which reflect a rejection of the values presented by the music and its fans and therefore underlining the importance of social distinction as a function of musical dislikes. Other functions include identity expression, the avoidance of negative emotional and physical states, and the implicitly expressed demonstration of musical competence. The explanations for disliked music are based on both an excess or lack of certain qualities of the music or emotional reaction to the music, pointing to the idea of a missing ideal mean of music. Quantitatively, the rationales found relate to a combination of reference points which is mainly the music, but often in combination with the lyrics, the performance, the artist, and the fans. Further, the degree of dislike ranged from a slight dislike to strong hatred. To conclude, musical dislikes are a complex, multidimensional component of musical taste. Taking musical dislikes into account, the diversity and complexity of an everyday aesthetics of music can be captured, extending our understanding of attitudes toward music and the functions of music.
... A client's self-selected music preferences are more likely to support the therapeutic process, as music that elicits emotional responses has been found to hold greater meaning for people (Craig, 2009). Accordingly, the music therapy literature is expanding to explore the impact of a diverse range of musical genres and their applications within therapy (Hines & McFerran, 2014;Viega, 2013). Specifically, an emerging body of literature describing the use of Rap in music therapy signals that it may have specific value within recovery-oriented music therapy practice due to its unique capacity to support the formation of personal narratives. ...
Chapter
The following chapter provides a descriptive overview of music therapy and its potential benefits for supporting people experiencing severe and enduring mental illness to journey toward personal recovery. Music therapy is a health profession in which music is employed as the primary agent for therapeutic change. It has been increasingly recognised that the values underpinning music therapy practice are closely aligned with those of recovery in mental health. As a person-centred therapy, music therapy supports personal recovery by capitalising on protective factors and clients’ individual resources. This chapter begins with a descriptive overview of music therapy and its role in mental health recovery, including a literature review outlining its clinical efficacy in alleviating the negative and global symptoms associated with schizophrenia. From a recovery perspective, exclusively pursuing quantitative outcomes when establishing evidence for music therapy provision is problematic, as it de- emphasises the role of service users’ lived experiences in informing the therapeutic process. Accordingly, while presenting a comprehensive overview of supporting music therapy literature, this chapter means to delineate the emerging personal and clinical recovery discourses in the field. This is achieved primarily through the presentation of a case example outlining the personal recovery journey of a young man through his self-selected preference for Rap music. The development of a meaningful personal narrative has been identified as a particularly relevant component of the recovery process. Through this case example, the authors seek to illustrate this young man’s use of Rap music in forging a narrative identity beyond his experience of illness. Overall, the authors hope to demonstrate music therapy’s potential to provide experiences of mastery, personal agency, connection and vitality despite the presence of ongoing symptomatology, while offering a unique medium through which meaningful narratives can be formed.
... [33] pokazuje, że preferowanie "mocnej muzyki" łączy się z ujawnianiem myśli samobójczych czy samookaleczeń słuchaczy. Inne badania wskazują na istnienie korzyści ze słuchania tego rodzaju muzyki: słuchacze ci przejawiają niższy poziom lęku i mają mniej objawów depresji [34] oraz większą motywację, pobudzenie, pewność siebie czy samoakceptację [35]. Gordon i wsp. ...
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Introduction: Among adolescents, the importance of music reveals itself in their subjective experience (feelings), expression and emotional behaviors, as well as their physiological reactions. Music is of particular value because it is accepted and liked by young people, it stimulates imagination, provides many aesthetic impressions and has a significant impact onthe personal experience of the listeners. Adolescents have their own preferences regarding music, conditioned by their personality or situational factors.The primary purpose of this study is to determine the impact of different genres of music on experiencing emotions by young people.Materials and methods: In the project we assumed that the effect of music depends on many factors, such as its genre and the age or gender of the listener. We argue that listening topopular music causes changes in teenagers’ emotions, the music genre determines the nature of invoked emotions and that gender differentiates perception of emotions depending onthe kind of music one is listening to. We conducted a psychological experiment with a questionnaire to assess the participants’ initial mood, upon which they were presented with athree minute music video (hip-hop, pop, or heavy metal, depending on the group) and asked to evaluate 21 IAPS pictures (The International Affective Picture System), then they filled out a self-designed questionnaire including questions on demographic data, music preferences, or potential hearing problems. The study involved 388 second and third-grade secondary school students from Szczecin.Results: The experiment permitted identifying the cause and effect relationship between listening to music and emotions of the youth. It has been shown that in adolescents, listening to popular music evokes changes within emotions. These changes have more negative than positive effects on young people’s emotional reception of reality. In adolescents, gender has a differentiating function in the emotional reception of visual stimuli while listening to music.Conclusions: The experiment results show that listening to a specific music genre during the period of adolescence can have an important and specific role in development and socio-emotional functioning, and also indicates the need for further research on this issue.
... Wśród tradycyjnych badań popularne są tematy takie, jak formowanie się subkultury metalowej i tożsamości subkulturowej (np. Larsson 2013;Hines, McFerran 2014;Varas-Díaz i in. 2014), problematyka wyborów dokonywanych w czasie wolnym (Spracklen, Spracklen 2012) oraz rytualnego, a czasem parareligijnego charakteru subkulturowych praktyk (Sylvan 2002;Palmer 2005;Gregory 2013;Riches 2011). ...
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Metal Music Studies started in 2008. This article describes their genesis and the history of their growth up to the present day. It summarizes the most important publications and lists the academic centers that proved to be crucial for stimulating their growth. The article moves on to describe the main research areas of Metal Studies, supplementing each description with relevant published research examples
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Phenomenological researchers generally agree that our central concern is to return to embodied, experiential meanings aiming for a fresh, complex, rich description of a phenomenon as it is concretely lived. Yet debates abound when it comes to deciding how best to carry out this phenomenological research in practice. Confusion about how to conduct appropriate phenomenological research makes our field difficult for novices to access. Six particular questions are contested: (1) How tightly or loosely should we define what counts as "phenomenology" (2) Should we always aim to produce a general (normative) description of the phenomenon, or is idiographic analysis a legitimate aim? (3) To what extent should interpretation be involved in our descriptions? (4) Should we set aside or bring to the foreground researcher subjectivity? (5) Should phenomenology be more science than art? (6) Is phenomenology a modernist or postmodernist project, or neither? In this paper, I examine each of these areas of contention in the spirit of fostering dialogue, and promoting openness and clarity in phenomenological inquiry.
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A comprehensive review of published concern and research evidence regarding the potential influences of popular music media was undertaken. The intention was to provide a significant resource enabling the music therapist or interested reader to contextualize their usage of popular music media. While the literature does not provide convincing support for the conclusion that music therapists can “create” forensic clients through their choices of popular music media, the concept of such music as a powerful social discourse is well substantiated. Consideration of the idiosyncrasies of individuals and of the music stimuli in their social context ultimately leads to a view of popular music media as both a reflection of and an exacerbating influence upon attitudes, values, and behavior.
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