An exploration of how South African youth experience heavy metal music
Mulder, Bianca Simone
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This mini-dissertation presents a discussion of the qualitative study exploring how South African youth, between the ages of 18 and 35, who are active listeners of Heavy Metal music experience this genre of music. The sample in the present study consists of 26 South African youths, living in various parts of the country, who listen to Heavy Metal music. Participants were recruited from attendees of the Heavy Metal music festival, Witchfest, which took place in Newtown, Johannesburg during 3-5 April 2015. An explorative qualitative research design was used. Three methods were used to gather data for the research study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with individual participants, and one focus group session was also carried out. Participants were approached at random times throughout Witchfest. Interview questions for both the semi-structured interviews and for the focus group session consisted of themes relating to the participants’ introduction to Heavy Metal music, how they experience Heavy Metal music, whether or not the music influences their relationships, and whether they experience Heavy Metal music as dangerous or violent in nature. Data was also gathered using unstructured nonparticipant observation, and therefore the behaviour and appearance of festival attendees was also observed at varying times throughout Witchfest. The results show that many participants were introduced to Heavy Metal music via their families and friends. This was mostly because these family members and friends listened to Heavy Metal music themselves. This, participants stated, was a very important factor in their experiences of Heavy Metal music because the commonality of listening to the music brings people closer together and strengthens the bonds between them. Apart from the music enhancing their relationships, participants also noted that Heavy Metal music evokes positive emotions within them and contributes to their well-being, owing to the fact that they often experience the act of listening to this genre of music as therapeutic and as an outlet for their negative feelings. These findings contradict dominant views held by non-listeners of Heavy Metal music, namely that this music causes dangerous and negative feelings and v behaviours, and shed light on the influence that this genre of music has on South African youth. On the other hand, findings also showed that the social setting surrounding Heavy Metal is associated with the frequent consumption of drugs and large amounts of alcohol. Although participants claimed that drugs and alcohol tend to enhance their experiences of Heavy Metal music festivals and of the music itself, the potentially harmful consequences of this practice cannot be ignored and requires additional investigation. The mini-dissertation is concluded with a chapter that outlines the conclusions and limitations related to the study, and on this basis, several recommendations were proposed for future research and practical application of the findings. Some of these recommendations include that future studies include a broader range of data gathering, and a wider variation of participants. It is suggested that future researchers attend one or two more Heavy Metal music festivals to attain this varied sample. Also, due to the fact that most Heavy Metal music listeners are older in age, further studies on the topic could increase the age in the sample selection criteria to 35 and above. Also, in order to avoid including participants that are intoxicated in any way, prospective studies could obtain participants by means other than from Heavy Metal music festivals, in settings free from drugs and alcohol.
- Humanities