Why are 'Symphonic' and 'Heavy' together?

protos

New member
Hi,

Just curious - why are 'symphonic' and 'heavy' together? I would have though that 'symphonic' goes more into the 'progressive' forum so what is it that passes for 'symphonic' at Magle International Music?

How does 'progressive' differ from 'symphonic'?

Rory
 

Frederik Magle

Administrator
Staff member
Regulator
I've chosen to divide the "rock music" sections into a "Metal" and a "Rock" (or "non-metal") section. So this forum covers symphonic, heavy, and progressive metal. If things get going in here one day, I would be happy to divide the sections once more so prog/symphonic metal (under one) and heavy get their own sections.

I would say that symphonic metal is closely related to progressive metal, without being exactly the same. It could perhaps be described as a kind of progressive metal, but progressive metal does not have to be symphonic.
 

protos

New member
I've chosen to divide the "rock music" sections into a "Metal" and a "Rock" (or "non-metal") section. So this forum covers symphonic, heavy, and progressive metal. If things get going in here one day, I would be happy to divide the sections once more so prog/symphonic metal (under one) and heavy get their own sections.

I would say that symphonic metal is closely related to progressive metal, without being exactly the same. It could perhaps be described as a kind of progressive metal, but progressive metal does not have to be symphonic.

I guess my confusion is that 'symphonic rock' usually isn't considered 'metal' at all, but perhaps there are cultural variations. I tend to think of 'metal' as music that is more based on fuzz guitar as the bedroom instrument providing the harmonies. I tend to think of 'symphonic' as music where strings/orchestral sounds provide the bedrock. I've never heard of 'symphonic metal' before although I'm returning after many years away from the music scene and may be out of touch.

All the best
Rory
 

protos

New member
Hi,

Thanks. Interesting discussion. I had a look at Wikipedia and I'm still not sure how symphonic rock and symphonic 'metal' differ. Perhaps they don't. The following passage on musical characteristics from the Wikipedia article could just as easily be said about progressive rock, symphonic rock as symphonic metal, so why the different term? Perhaps this is something I come across all the time in academia - rediscovery of the same genre with a different label?

"Keyboards in Symphonic metal play the most important role in the music, and are the focal point of the genre that the rest of the music centers around. While most of the instruments play relatively simple parts, the keyboards tend to have the most complex and technically difficult parts. The keyboards alone are used to play the "classical" parts of the music which the genre is renowned for, and covers all forms of classical music. Bands sometimes use orchestras when playing live to play the parts that the keyboardist would play, and at times feature real instruments in recording instead of using digital samples with a keyboard."

To me progressive rock or more precisely symphonic rock would be adequate as a label for music of the above type. What I'm interested in is the 'metal' tag - what does the 'metal' imply for people here?

All the best
Rory
 

rojo

(Ret)
Regulator
I think metal uses more 'doom-type' subject matter (evil, end of the world...), and a lot of guitar distortion and power chords.

Often, the lines between genres are hard to draw; some things fit under more than one label... and of course there are always disagreements about what genre a certain band or artist is...
 

JLS

New member
I personally tend to ignore genre distinctions -- especially in music. I think such distinctions stifle creativity as much as political parties hinder honest voting. That said, it is part of the way we function to group things into categories. Doing so makes comprehending the world a good bit easier. I suppose this is true for the music world as well.


As for your question...

"Progressive" is less a genre of music and more an intension or purpose. It is exemplified by the artist(s) attempting to extend the musical landscape of a particular form or genre. It seems to me that any form of music can be progressed in this way and, if so, would become that form's progressive. We can have progressive rock, progressive jazz, progressive bossa nova...

"Metal" is more a genre or form of music. The term has been used frequently for four decades referring to a lot of very distinct subgenres. Today, I'd say the term "metal" refers specifically to subgenres derived from Thrash. The most popular examples of Thrash are Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax and Slayer. Death metal and Grindcore are mainstream derivatives of Thrash(or, at least, as mainstream as real Metal gets), with other more obtuse subgenres out there.

"Symphonic Metal" refers mainly to modern Thrash derivatives that incorporate symphonic styles. It can be said to be a progressive form of Metal, since it's intension is to extend the musical landscape of Metal, and since Metal is a form of Rock it can be said that this progressive Metal is a form of progressive Rock, but clearly progressive Metal is not the same as progressive Rock since Metal is only one type of Rock(as our illustrious webmaster already pointed out). It also isn't fair to say that Symphonic Metal is the same as progressive Metal since most progressive Metal doesn't incorporate symphonic styles.
 

Tomsullivan_ire

New member
When people use the term 'Symphonic' they are talking partly about the instrumentation and partly the style of composition, which when you listen to the metal band 'Symphony X', theres a clear classical(and baroque) influence on both writing and instrumentation.
'Progressive' on the other hand is used when refering to a compositional feature. It has got so many connections though, i think there should be a set of rules layed down on correct use of the terminology.
 

Conservationist

New member
I've chosen to divide the "rock music" sections into a "Metal" and a "Rock" (or "non-metal") section. So this forum covers symphonic, heavy, and progressive metal.

I would say that symphonic metal is closely related to progressive metal, without being exactly the same. It could perhaps be described as a kind of progressive metal, but progressive metal does not have to be symphonic.

It's a good way to divide things. In my view, the metal bands that want to get progressive also want to develop the metal sound, which uses narrative composition like classical musicians and borrows a lot from classical modernists (Bruckner, Wagner) and associated derivations like soundtracks. So the best tend toward symphonic thinking, even if not orchestration...

Personally, I listen to a lot of metal, but more classical, and a smidgen of electronica/ambient (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, VNV Nation, Biosphere, Claustrum, Maeror Tri, Fripp/Eno). A lot of similarities between the three.
 

Premonition

New member
if we really wanna get picky with genres... then we need

Thrash Metal
Death Metal
Black Metal
Grindcore
Doom Metal/Stoner/Sludge
Power Metal
Prog/Symphonic
Punk/Hardcore/Metalcore
 

Premonition

New member
Please subdivide this into its various categories like:

Depressive Black Metal
Punk Black Metal
Black’N’Roll

etc… :p


ah yes of course...

1st wave
2nd wave
that one band that does that 3rd wave type thing...
the super kvlt stuff
the not so kvlt stuff
the emo stuff
the angry stuff
the european stuff
the non-european stuff
the symphonic stuff

etc... :)
 

dll927

New member
Given what most of us normally think of as "symphonic", isn't it something of a contradiction in terms to use the word regarding rock, or for that matter, any type of "popular" music (and in a lot of cases, I use the word "music" very loosely.)
 

AlderonFrederic

New member
Well obviously(and mostly according to wiki)'symphonic metal\rock', is just a term gathering up willing to play hard, but also use some of the grandma instruments that are also here...so what are we waiting for?
Aside from the jokes, to my mind that's something still heavy enough to be a rock of metal, but with a lovely yet fantastically performed classical parts. Not sure that metal and rock in the symphony area really differ much. Also some of the bands, started this out right when there was no such a term as "symphonic metal". If I'm not mistaken Nightwish still sits and considered with many people as power metal, thus that's clearly a symphonic one...
 

John Watt

Active member
This discussion is forcing me to make up my mind about these "genre" distinctions.
My first thought about "symphonic" as opposed to "heavy" comes from what I hear in movies and TV episodes.
I wouldn't think of using "symphonic" to describe any rock music unless a synthesizer player imitates an orchestra.
That could be "Gates of Delirium" by Yes on the Relayer album, but everyone said they were progressive rock.

So for me, hearing a heavy metal band providing a wash of sound without being a lead guitar solo could be symphonic.
Here in this heavily electronic Niagara Peninsula, there are many subtle differences for bands with loud, distorted sounds.
Grind-core, punk, steam-punk, emo, screamo, screamo-emo, thrash, heavy metal, factory, altered states, goth, wicka wicked,
hard rock, psychedelic rock, raunch, classic rock Black Sabbath style....
and I have to include DeadMau5 and Rezz, electronica DJ's who are pumping out the loudest and most famous sounds right now.

For me, the biggest difference between heavy guitar driven bands comes down to is a guitarist using a seven string guitar?
If that extra bass string is there the deep chords can become demonic sounding, an entirely new range of deeper sonic delivery.
I have to mention TINKICKER, one of my favorite bands from Denmark... uh... melodic metal? axe-swinging Vike-rock? Thor-bangers?
 
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