Music and Geographical Location


Oct 13, 2002
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Music and Geographical Location

So what are everyone's thoughts on this? I've been wondering about this lately. How much does where somebody lives affect their musical preference (listening or composing)? It seems to me that categorization by location seems to be much more prominent in metal than other genres. Why is that do you think?

One of the things that got me thinking about these sorts of questions was that Wolves In The Throne Room interview. I sent the interview to a friend of mine whom was nearing the end of her education to receive a masters in popular culture because I figured she'd find it interesting reading. One area she felt the need to comment on was:

WITTR interview said:
Besides Dead as Dreams, what are some monumental USBM albums? Are US black metallers working to surpass those recordings, or should they be more concerned with providing nice complements?

Surpass? I guess that we don’t think about music this way. Black metal has this strange macho obsession with being the “best,” the “elite.” I can only speak for our band, but we don’t consider our music in relation to that of anyone else. It is private, personal and local. We definitely don’t consider Wolves in the Throne Room within the context of any BM grand narrative.

I think that there is too much choice and variety in music – commodification makes for extensive and wide-ranging record collections, but it also takes art out of context and throws it willy-nilly into the whirling vortex of modern capitalism. Hence, the barcode on the record and the MySpace page. I would rather that music remain local: music about a certain place, for a small group of people. This is all fantasy of course; the world is as it is. I suppose if my Luddite dream became reality, we would never have heard Burzum or Emperor in our adolescence and our band would never have formed, or at least it would sound quite different.

She called bullshit, but then again, so do they ("This is all fantasy of course..."). But it got me thinking. How does location affect fans and musicians? Is there much of any point in this geographical categorization we've seen in the past and continue to see now? Does it really mean anything to call something USBM? Does such a label denote anything beyond simply wide genre classification and country of origin or something more specific?

With the internet and continuing globalization will we continue to see "scenes" or local styles like we saw with NY death metal and Floridian death metal? What of the perception that the BM coming out of France is pushing the boundaries? Why are there more bands of that nature coming out of France or are there really that many more there than anywhere else?

Why do Eastern European musicians seem to be so much more passionate? Why are Scandinavian fans so damned jaded? Are these false perceptions? Are they the bands and fans getting the attention not a representative sample?

Meh, maybe none of this makes sense. It was just some stuff that was running though my head as I was taking a shower.
Considering that weather has a massive impact on what type of music I'm in the mood for during any given day, I'd say yes, geographic location is very important when it comes to all things music. I don't think it's necessarily exclusive though, I mean Devo came from freakin' Texas.
Solid idea worth revisiting. Although lizard of course owned it. :lol:

I still have a strange feeling about black metal from California.

Much like stoner rock from Sweden... that just confuses me.
I think location only matters with respect to musicians within a given scene, and even then, only in the formative years of that scene. And even that is probably no longer relevant. Given that live music seems to be dying on the vine, while online music is exploding, it seems far more likely that the next truly influential band will inspire musicians through the internet than through their local club scene.

With regard to fans, it clearly has no bearing. Only a small percentage of the music I listen to comes from U.S., and an exponentially smaller percentage from New Jersey. And really, what difference does it matter if it comes from L.A. or London, if both are equal distances from me?

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