Heavy Metal. You either love it or hate it. Nonetheless it has an awesome power from the sheer volume and deathly riffs that lurk within the genre. Perhaps one of the most doom laden riffs of all time comes from Black Sabbath via the title song of their album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, particularly the riff towards the end of the song (3 minutes 17 seconds on), which competes with Uranium, weighing in at 238 units on the ‘heavy metal’ scale in the Periodic Table.
Heavy metal sounds different to pop music and a quick musical note explains why. Heavy Metal tends to employ modal scales, in particular the Aeolian and Phrygian modes rather than the upbeat scales favoured in pop songs (Doh-Ray-Me-Far-So-La-Te-Doh, with third part harmonies such as those used in songs by The Beatles, Abba etc.). Although heavy metal has its critics, it has been argued that heavy metal has the most in common with classical music, especially Bach, Wagner and Vivaldi through the influence of Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen etc.
As if to illustrate the point, take a listen to Love Sculpture, featuring Dave Edmunds, doing Khachaturian’s ‘Sabre Dance’ in 1968, containing many of the modal scales I mentioned above:
Music theory aside, what can we learn about business from Heavy Metal bands?
From Deep Purple, we get the insight that innovation in business requires discipline as much as it does creativity.
From Led Zeppelin and Peter Grant, we get the insight that, if the industry norms are killing your business opportunity, change the industry norms.
From Black Sabbath, we get the insight that limitations can assist creativity.
From Spinal Tap, we learn that plans are nothing if execution is poor.
About the Blogger: Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching. Contact via firstname.lastname@example.org