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Gothic rock
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Gothic rock

Historically, gothic rock started as a subset of the punk movement; with groups like Siouxsie & the Banshees;, The Cure and Joy Division, bands that were contemporaries of such early punk bands as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks and Generation X in the UK in 1977 - 1979. While the latter bands focused on aggressive, outward focused rock, the early goth groups were more introverted and personal. Originally considered just another aspect of the punk rock/post punk explosion, Goth only began to be defined as a separate movement with the emergence of Bauhaus in 1979.

The Goth movement diverged from punk in any number of ways, especially its influences. While punk was firmly focused on the here and now, elements of goth culture can be traced to much older literary movements such as Gothic horror, Romanticism, existential philosophy, and the political construct of nihilism. The culture draws creative individuals often very interested in a variety of academic, artistic, religious and scientific movements; few subcultures place as great a value on knowledge as the goth rock movement. The Goth movement is often less interested in social and political values than many other subcultures, focusing largely on personal beliefs and often disregarding wider culture; although like any generalization this does not always stand.

Table of contents
1 Key early bands
2 External links
3 Fashion
4 Related genres
5 Equipment
6 Bands

Key early bands

While Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure have retained their goth imagery throughout their careers, their music has strayed from the Gothic style. Siouxsie up to and including the Nocturne (1983) album is undeniably goth rock. After 1983, their output shifted to softer focus on Gothic themes. The Cure's contribution to the genre is centered around Faith, Seventeen Seconds and Pornography. This sound originated from the song "Three Imaginary Boys" on the first album (Three Imaginary Boys, 1979), which is generally considered closer to being a New Wave album.

Joy Division was a consistently Gothic band, though after the suicide of Ian Curtis, the group reformed as New Order and became a New Wave/disco group. Bauhaus is also a consistently Gothic band, strongly influenced by English glam rock, such as David Bowie and T. Rex. Some of the members of Bauhaus formed Tones on Tail after the disintegration of that group, releasing Gothic music influenced strongly by Pet Sounds-era The Beach Boys and psychedelia. Fans of Bauhaus & Daniel Ash should look into Jane's Addiction, a modern hard rock band which utilizes aspects of Daniel Ash's guitar playing style, as played by guitarist Dave Navarro. A very good introduction to Jane's Addiction can be seen in the tragic movie, 'Gift'.

Early English Goth rock follows a standard hard rock lineup, but often adds synthesizers, or at least guitar effects that sound like synths. The front person strategy varies, because the music is more introspective than high energy hard rock:

Goth rock is at its most basic level a combination of punk rock and New Wave. Between 1979-1985 it was variously known as post-punk, alternative and new wave.

Lyrics are generally very poetic in nature, and follow melodies in the instrumentation of the song.

Guitar settings are the most notable influence to the overall musical style. Single coil pickups are important to achieve the correct sound, Fender Jazzmasters, Jaguars, & Mustangs fit the bill nicely. The guitar sound before processing ranges from clean, to warm overdrive with gain settings at approx 50%. Dynamics to this can include just turning all amp knobs to the right for chaotic amp-driven sounds found in some Bauhaus & Siouxsie material. For the most part, the combination of the following effects will give you this sound:

Bass is very warm and round sounding, and often uses chorus and/or flange effects.

Drums tend to be played by a human with an electronic kit, BPM ranges are from 80-150.

Synths usually have the above listed guitar attributes, and are generally based on a 'Strings' type of synth patch with a 25% attack rate. Invariably the synths are analog.

This type of gothic rock requires a fairly capable musician, as it will often include modal scales in song construction. Additionally, finger picking & up/down arpeggiation of chords will be found in many verse parts.

Overall song construction is similar to Hard rock

There is much room for variation, and repetition of verses & choruses.

Early Gary Numan material from Tubeway Army to The Pleasure Principle can be considered to be goth, although the image was new wave. The use of analog synths and subject matter were a definite influence on later goth bands. His imagery & fashion have influenced contemporary goth Cyberpunk fashion.

The band which has most influenced contemporary Goth music is The Sisters of Mercy, which is significantly different from the original sound of Gothic music. Stemming from these changes, a movement of Goth dance music was created.

Contemporary Goth music is generally sequenced, making heavy use of FM & digital synthesizers. It is characterized by a crisp snare drum sample and a heavy bass drum sample. The auto-arpeggiate feature of modern synthesizers is used in often complex sounding multiple simultaneous arpeggiations. Vocals tend to be either spooky or lovelorn.

Many fans of early gothic rock are embracing Death rock, as a return to the original values of the scene, in a deliberate avoidance of the cliche stereotypes which have come to be associated with the modern Goth scene.

Contemporary dance club goth evolved simultaneously with industrial music, and both use the same techniques and types of synthesis equipment. The main difference is that industrial is "harder" sounding, and goth is "softer" sounding. Modern goth has the evolutionary feel of New Wave music or synth pop, while industrial is an evolution of synth pop and heavy metal music. The guitar is not used much in contemporary goth, but is often used extensively (with a lot of distortion) in industrial.

Another, less mainstream vision, of Goth music is Goth metal combining medieval Gothic music with heavy doom metal. Goth metal is often described as "beauty and the beast" because of the characteristic duets between operatic female vocals and macabre male vocals. Some of the key bands in this area are Paradise Lost, Theatre of Tragedy, Tristania and Lacuna Coil.


External links


Related genres



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