On the definition of djent: part two - discussion

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On the definition of djent: survey discussion

This is part two of our post about the survey 'On the definition of djent'. Read part one here.


In this part, we take an in-depth look at the the comments we received. We've also sollicited some comments and insights from a few people who have played an important role in the djent scene, which you can read below. And finally, we also share the answers of some musicians and people from the industry!


Editorial

Site moderator Waldheri had a look at the things people wrote in the 'remarks and comments' box.

Introduction

The goal of this editorial is to give a summary of the various comments that were written in the optional, open comment section at the end of the survey. This was included to give users the freedom to express their opinions outside the confines of the strict tickboxes that dominated the survey.

Not everyone who submitted their answers included a comment and a large portion of those who did simply thanked got-djent.com for the website it is and this survey in particular, expressing their support and interest for the venture. Therefore the first order of business is to reciprocate and thank you all for taking the time to complete it, despite the fact that it was admittedly rather lengthy.

To our knowledge, it is the first and only survey of its kind, and we are glad it received the voluminous response that it did. Many of you were surely hoping we would be able put this “djent business” to rest with the results, but like with most things, the truth is more complicated than anticipated. The reasons for this seem to lie with the subjectivity inherent to music and language. As an art, music need not comply with strict rules or even guidelines, and the meaning of words can evolve over time.

Though the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, there was also a common criticism: the ten second samples were hard or even impossible to pin down as djent or not djent. This was partly by design. All band pages submitted by users on this site for inclusion in our bands database are reviewed by the team of moderators. The submission must be relevant and fit with the musical profile of rest of the bands in the database. There is no defintion of djent that all moderators subscribe to, nor is there a strict protocol to decide inclusion except for a voting process. Many of the samples included in the survey were expected to yield a discussion when they would undergo the submission process, and so the criticism is not unexpected. For more information about how we decide what content will be featured on the website, check out our FAQ.


The meaning of djent


Djent? Maybe.
When you say “djent”, do you associate it with its current usage, or with its original meaning? This question appears very related to the dichotomy of whether djent describes a sound or a style (or even a full-blown musical genre). A frequently returning comment was that in its inception “djent” described a sound produced on the guitar, and that it found its inception with Meshuggah or Fredrik Thordendal in particular. The guitar technique that is used to create djent is universally said to be a power chord. Some add that the chord composed of four (low) notes or that it is played using four (down-tuned) strings and/or that it is palm muted. These descriptions of the djent sound all seem to be variations on the one by Misha Mansoor, which is included in the got-djent.com FAQ and defines djent as a “(...) heavily palm muted distorted guitar chord which is usually played as but not limited to a 4 string double octave powerchord(...)”. Yet others say that “djent” is merely the word that is now being used for what used to be called a “chug”.


Djent? Possibly, who knows.
There are those who think the term “djent” encompasses much more than just a guitar sound. Whether a genre of its own, a mixture of genres or merely a subgenre, djent is considered by many to be related to progressive and groove metal, the former being the most frequently named. A few relate it to (technical) death metal and the myriad of -core genres. Many noted that as a genre it is influenced by jazz. The incorporation of ambient and electronic elements also features in the comments, with some going so far as saying that it is a complete blending of different genres. The musical characteristics of the genre are said to include polyrhythms, syncopation and, less often, polymeters. These musical devices are not employed for their own sake, however, but for the production of what makes djent appealing: (complex) rhythms and groove.


The djent community

There were also comments about the “djent community”, which has been growing steadily if the number of bands and releases in our database and the website traffic are any indication. The presence of many (aspiring) musicians that are recording, mixing, producing and releasing their material independently is considered an important aspect of the (online) community. Indeed, many of the artists that dominate the popular bands list have either recorded, mixed and/or produced their (initial) works themselves: Periphery’s Misha Mansoor (“Bulb”), Animals As Leaders’s Tosin Abasi, TesseracT’s Acle Kahney, Chimp Spanner’s Paul Ortíz, Cloudkicker’s Ben Sharp, and the members of Vildhjarta and Uneven Structure, to name a few.

Perhaps more so than in other musical communities, musical gear, guitar tunings, recording setup, software and mixing techniques are common topics of discussion. This “do-it-yourself” ethic is generally lauded, but there is also widespread annoyance with the many aspiring (young) musicians who have jumped on the proverbial home-recording bandwagon without bringing anything new or original to the music. Some feel certain bands are associating themselves with the community unwarrantedly, simply because it is surging in popularity and hence makes for a good promotional device.

Above: a sometimes frighteningly accurate depiction of the djent community.



Final words: who are we kidding?

As you have read, thoughts on the meaning of “djent” are varied. Though there is no clear consensus, the following is not contested: at its inception, “djent” described a sound produced on the guitar. Many still hold on to that definition, denying any further meanings. One of those respondents made the following analogy: “No band can be ‘djent’. That is like saying a gun is ‘bang’ because it makes that noise (redacted)”. To others the term has since acquired an additional or even completely different meaning as a useful (yet still broad) descriptor of music.

We can speculate that this updated definition came about because of common characteristics, attributes, techniques and attributes of the bands who choose to incorporate the djent sound into their music. The survey results and this editorial will undoubtedly start a whole new chapter of discussion. Until then, we leave djent to evolve on its own accord, without us imposing any restrictions on what it can and can’t become.


Labels and media

What do the labels and the media think about djent? We sollicited some comments from four people who, according to us, have played an important non-musical role in djent's development.

Lisa Coverdale works at Basick Records, arguably one of the most important labels in djent. She is also a publicist at Hold Tight! PR. Here's what she had to say:

The most interesting thing from this survey is the fact that it’s clear there are very few women interested in this scene. Perhaps this may be because it’s a scene born from internet forums and chat rooms, geared towards guitar forums in particular. For a genre to grow it really needs to be accessible to all – and in djent’s case this would mean figuring out how to attract a female audience.

Secondly djent has surpassed its original meaning, growing in to what some would call a genre, however from the survey it’s still clear that many disagree on what bands fit into the djent category. From this survey it seems that djent now encompasses tech, progressive, metalcore and pioneering djent bands. In that sense it’s become the umbrella term for experimental music within the Metal genre.

Finally, the fact that there is a survey about djent, perhaps highlights many of the criticisms or observations thrown at the term – that it’s a very small, secular piece of the metal jigsaw, it’s very insular and introspective and as it’s still just in its birthing stage, it’s not quite sure what it is yet or what it has the potential to be.

It’ll be interesting to see if djent blossoms into a larger movement or fades into obscurity in the next few years.

Steve Joh does A&R (Artist and Repertoire) for Century Media records, and was instrumental in getting TesseracT and Vildhjarta signed to the label. His remarks:

I have to say, the results were pretty close to what I imagined, mainly because got-djent.com conducted it. Your readers, the people that come to this site and contribute to it, they are the ones that helped create what is now known as Djent, whether they wanted to or not or are even happy about it. As someone who comes to the site daily, reads the comments and goes to the message boards, these results reflect what seems to be discussed here quite a bit.

Is Djent a scene or is it a genre or is it a chord? Obviously not everyone agrees on what it is, but I think what everyone can pretty much agree on is the timeline of events on when this whole thing started. We all can debate what is and what isn’t Djent and never get anywhere. Djent has taken on a life of its own, for better or for worse. To me, it’s been exciting to watch and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it. On the other hand, I don’t want it to become water-downed. I don’t want to see all these young bands across the globe saying “well, we better go get 8 strings now…”. I tend to think we all can agree on that to some extent as well.

The one thing that I do believe in is that the bands that are doing this now, the ones that have been for years, they will continue to make great music and push the boundaries of what is called Djent even further. They were doing this before it was a scene/genre/style of music. They were doing it sometimes even without a band. They just wanted to make good music. They visited message boards and soon discovered that there are more people out there just like them. It was inevitable that some sort of community developed and grew and that’s pretty much why we all are here.

Thanks for putting this together.

John Giulio Sprich is half of the duo behind Euroblast promotion, which organises Euroblast festival every year. This year's lineup featured Textures, Mnemic, Vildhjarta, TesseracT and Sybreed, among others. He says:

For me Djent is something with many facets. it's a magical ingredient to free people from boundaries... from thoughts, from narrow minded clothing styles, from clearly defined genre classifications, from a certain way to dance, from being vegan, religous, alcoholic or straight edge, from tunings, skin color-related matters or certain hair cuts and lots of other stuff.

Everybody chooses to be free and share whatever djent he likes! Here we have clean vocals, here we have growls, here we have samples, here we have instrumental music, here we have The Algorithm and we will have much more. Could Djent be the connector, not the separator?! There are people that develop worldwide in face of each other. Human cloud computing via realtime sharing. Musicians granting access to riffs, songs and their music to get shared for others to listen, enjoy and refine. It feels like the embodied era of knowledge to me. And whatever it is I embrace it. Thall

Sander Dieleman, AKA benanne, is the administrator and maintainer of this website, got-djent.com, which we dare say continues to fulfill an important role in the djent scene. He says:

The most interesting conclusion to be drawn from the survey is, in my opinion, that the only thing everyone can agree on is that everyone else has got it wrong. There are also a couple of interesting contradictions in the results: particularly striking is the fact that 'djent' has helped the majority of the respondents to discover new music, but less than half of them actually state that they find the label useful.

It seems that how you formulate a question is sometimes more important than the actual question itself, and I think this emphasises that many people haven't even decided for themselves yet what they think djent entails. Which makes it all the more poignant that so many feel the need to force their definition of 'djent' upon everyone else.

As open-minded as this scene is musically, when it comes to definitions and terms it often seems to be quite the opposite, and this is unfortunate in my opinion (not just when it comes to 'djent' - cfr. the many 'polyrhythm vs. polymeter' debates). As fleeting and vague as 'djent' is, it's undeniable that it has had an impact, and that for most people involved this impact has largely been positive. I get the impression that some artists that are constantly slagging djent seem to forget that it's actively contributed to the growth of their fanbase, and I have to admit that frustrates me. They don't have to like it, but they could at least respect it.

I wasn't particularly surprised by any of the results, but it's nice to see some things quantified nevertheless. An exception maybe is the fact that the 'djent is a genre' camp seems to be quite a bit bigger than I had anticipated. I guess this is because the voice of the 'djent is not a genre' camp sounds a lot louder...

But to end on a positive note: the turnout for this survey has been amazing and I really believe that it's helped to make some sense of the various opinions and interpretations that seem to live with the community. In the end, I think that we don't really need to agree about all this, as long as we can agree to disagree. We still have some work to do in that respect.


Just the facts

What do Textures guitarist Bart Hennephof, Uneven Structure guitarist Igor Omodei, Vildhjarta guitarist Daniel Bergström, Monuments guitarist John Browne, Steve Joh from Century Media Records, John Sprich from Euroblast festival and Sander Dieleman from got-djent.com think? They've kindly agreed to let us publish their answers for the 'Djent is...' and 'Opinions and statements' sections. Have a look below to see what they answered.

Djent is...







Opinions and statements











What's your take on the survey results? What surprised you, and what was in line with your expectations?
Let us know in the comments to this post!


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Comments

John Browne is now one of the guitarists playing djent that i admire the most,
it surprised me that he doesnt really seem to agree with the djent scene.
but it's kinda weird that he strongly disagree with djent as an useful label,
while agreeing that djent has helped him discover music he likes.
how come?@@

node ids include bands, releases, reviews, news articles, updates and forum topics, among other things.

and also you guys are all only referring to western music, classical indian etc has way more notes per scalar cycle Smile benanne, i'm sure i've seen over 10000 in our "bands" content section? like when it says [nid:10075] or whatever?

Not necessarily actually, check this out Tongue

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDFCsCoaUO4

there are 12 notes.

How's 'bout objectivity? Instead of stating your personal preference, Then saying it's alright, almost condescendingly, talk about, what is good first or what you enjoy about it first. A tactic that serves your better stance of self-preservation. It's as if you really think a genre is created by the exception, then the body. Whether, Misha or Fredrik can be considered with starting djent, the problem is it's an arbitrary position, an endless one.

Oh man, okay I was just saying it was Misha and Fredrick that made the tone/style of djent right? So... technically that means it's US and Sweden that made djent right? That's all I meant! I appreciate some serious responses though. I don't like America anymore then you guys do, I swear i'm not trying to make em' look good or anything. They (Misha and Fred) may have made djent but there has certainly been many different takes on it. It doesn't matter what country or race makes it, there will always be only 7 notes (A,b,c,d,e,f,g) and we're all limited in the same way!

10000 is a bit exaggerated, we're closing in on 1000 at the moment Smile

Slashmole, attributing a whole scene/genre/whatever term you want to use of music, contributed to by over 10000 bands at least (thats how many bands we have on the database), to one nation because of 1 musician is a very unwise move imo, since in order to determine the true origin of djent you would have to take into account every single concept, thought and particle in the universe according to Einsteins "cause and effect" theory. No one's attacking you about your opinions, and if they are it is probably because of a lack of grounding for your arguments. In future, i also suggest you are a little more subtle, unless you have a truly valid point to make with decent evidence for said point. Smile

Quote:

But the US DID give us djent...

I honestly don't see how. Sure, djent wouldn't be what it is today without Periphery. But it wouldn't be without Meshuggah or TesseracT, either. So to attribute the existence of djent to a single country is completely absurd. That's the point I was trying to make.

Quote:

You seem to neglect that every time that happens, everyone here gangs up on me and attacks like a bunch of kids, rarely does anyone supply a real argument, that tends to be somewhat disappointing.

The way you express yourself invites this kind of response. An opinion is still an opinion, regardless of how it is expressed, but if you want people to take you seriously, then you really need to learn to word your opinions more carefully.

Quote:

It's not that big of a deal anyway, and this wouldnt be happening if you told all those attacking me, not to attack me.

Responding in a calm and serene manner usually isn't an option because you make it impossible - you don't express your opinion in a calm and serene manner, to begin with. So the only thing left for the majority of the other users on this site, is either to ignore your posts, or respond in the same fashion. They would better off ignoring you, but not many of us are strong-willed enough to do that. I do believe most of them try. If you would take some time to think about how people will perceive what you post, maybe you'd get some proper responses and start an interesting discussion, instead of yet another squabble. Not repeating the same thing on every related post or topic you can find might also help to make people more open and accepting of your opinion.

Quote:

I'm the only one that hasnt directly attacked, or tried to offend anyone here.

I'm willing to believe that you're not actively trying to piss people off, but by now you should realise that the way you conduct yourself on this site does piss people off. And you can say that it's not your fault that everyone is so sensitive, but the simple fact is that they are, so if you really want to participate in this community like everyone else, your best bet is to take that into account.

Wow...I couldn't hold out on that one...u.s.gave us djent? How, again. Can't help it!! I've been listening to djent since it was called 'Meshuggah/like/ish'. MNEMIC, Insense, Sybreed, Textures even 'Occult Medicine' by Yyrkoon stated by Century Media early 2000's. Along with others...all European. Even if Misha is one who you want to credit with djent, he's of India/asian decent. Hey, a simple new question who started djent. My vote Europe.

But the US DID give us djent... but I knew that would offend some since apparently you guys hate it or something. To prevent that I said we couldnt of done it without Fredrick's help because it is about 40%-50%. or something like that.
" every time someone disagrees with you, you act as if they murdered your family or something." You seem to neglect that every time that happens, everyone here gangs up on me and attacks like a bunch of kids, rarely does anyone supply a real argument, that tends to be somewhat disappointing.
It's not that big of a deal anyway, and this wouldnt be happening if you told all those attacking me, not to attack me. I'm the only one that hasnt directly attacked, or tried to offend anyone here. Plus you know that from when I reviewed that Nemertines album, that i've actually been trying not to insult people.

YOU are the one who said 'the US has given us djent'. Nice ninja edit though, it was definitely necessary. I didn't 'turn it into a strange competition' at all.

Honestly, everytime someone disagrees with you, you act as if they murdered your family or something. This also seems to be what you are accusing everyone else of.... Given that you seem to love to repeat your 'dissident' opinions ad nauseam, you should be expecting to get some kind of response. Don't go on the defensive immediately, it's extremely tiring and it makes a rational discussion impossible. Not that I'm interested in any kind of discussion about this subject.

Maybe try to express your opinions a bit less agressively as well. I seem to recall a post of yours that went something like "Damn it VOCALS DO NOT BELONG IN DJENT!!!". Sure, it's just an opinion, but if you expressed it a bit more subtly sometimes, people would be a lot less likely to respond with the same kind of agression.

6 out of 10 is only 1 more band... if you REALLY want to make it into some strange competition of "US vs EUROPE" then fine. I wont go down to these kid's level and insult you or your country. But you do know Jazz, Hip-hop, and the whole home-produced attitude djent has came from the US... there's no need to freak out about it, we wouldn't have dubstep or even electronic music in general if not for the Europeans.
Hell, i'll even give you the benefit of the doubt and just say music wouldn't exist period if not for the Europeans thanks to all those great composers from the past!

6 out of 10 most popular bands are from Europe. Most notably Meshuggah...

... yeah, that edit was in order Tongue

Djent is what metal has to compete with Dustep right now. Similar fanbase, and juicy low digital bass. Thanks to Misha and Fredrick we have this badass "new" form of music now. The US and Sweden have been instrumental in the metal movement.

I totally agree, many of the answers agreed that the original definition was the only valid one and then went on to agree with genre defining characteristics... IMO who gives a fuck there is a lot of amazing music being released lately. Are people ripping off Meshuggah? Maybe. Is it the type of music I like to listen to and want to hear more of? Absolutely. Does debating it really matter? No. If the label of a genre is solely enough to steer you to or away from certain bands/music/productions, it may be time to expand your horizons.

I feel like the people who say that nobody knows what Djent really is might be exaggerating because of all times they ended up reading a flame war about whether or not everyone is ripping off Meshuggah. I may or may not have been one of those people LOL.

Years from now, we still won't know what djent is. It's too subjective. I'd say the djent sound has been infused into both metalcore and progressive metal, and now most people can't decide whether djent is a genre or not because there are enough bands using the djent sound within metalcore and progressive metal to constitute some kind of genre and scene. Obviously you can make music of both those genres without it, so not all metalcore/prog metal is djent, but djent is almost exclusively used in metalcore and progressive metal (at the moment). So if someone told me that a band was djent, I could easily imagine what they meant. But the reason you couldn't really call it a genre is because you could take that same sound and put it in any type of music you want.

Interesting and insightful survey. I found this to be run quite well, and the results were displayed simply, with the disclaimer that they are obviously biased by the sampling (only people that actually care enough to take the survey are represented). Keep up the good work, and the dialogue over 'djent'.

+1 to that, I stick to the same opinion as Browne

I think that just about all of the Musician/Rep results contradict themselves at some point. This poll is proof that the "Djent" community is still divided and unsure of what it even is. I think that it has different meanings to different people as the term has evolved in my opinion. I hated it at first, but now I think we should all accept that it's too late to change the name so we might as well embrace it.

Thought it was quite interesting to see that Browne thinks Djent bands are ripping off Meshuggah, but then continues to say that Meshuggah aren't a Djent band Smile

Browne's answers are perfect.

This is far beyond the year of TesseracT. Firstly, half of their new album was previously released as an EP. More importantly, the titles that have come out and are coming out later in the year (Skyharbor, Animals as Leaders, Uneven Structure and Vildhjarta are all releasing their albums in October and November) are the newer, more groundbreaking albums. Not to diss TesseracT, they are a great band, but I wouldn't call 2011 "The year of TesseracT"

Back to being more on-topic, I don't think the results were too surprising, "Djent" is an awfully divisive word. I remember first listening to "Cybernetic Soul Mechanics" and thinking "now way! Scar Symmetry isn't djent you silly people.... but this sample counts for me." Very tricky you guys.

I was surprised by some of Igor and Daniel's answers. They seemed fairly negative and pessimistic towards the movement.

Well...let's say it didn't count, in 2010 because, I became an official got-djentlemen this year. As well as the year of TesseracT. All things my vote,TesseracT.

Hokenstyfe: we did organise a 'Top albums of 2010' poll, and we plan to make this a tradition Smile 'Top albums of 2011' should be coming up in a few weeks!

The fun part of this huge survey is that (to me) it is very interesting but also completely irrelevant. Whatever it is we're representing on this community website, it will continue to grow, develop and evolve. It is a way to discover great and upcoming artists whom I find interesting, and most of all it's fun. Let's just keep it at that.

The problem is, the djent community is really, really cliquey, it seems.
There are some really talented guys out there writing some great music and getting zero recognition because they're not Misha, Browne, Nolly, Acle etc, and equally some really pants music that's doing really well because of who it is.

Anyway this poll has shown that even people right at the centre of the community don't agree on what's going on here. So go with the flow and see what happens.

Although to the people who say it's not a scene....it definitely is a scene. Deal with it.

I loled when John Browne kept choosing the opposite answers to everyone else

Well that was all nice and all but your work,got-djent.com, is not over. When Vildhjarta drop it's time for the first ever Djent of the year awards. Album, guitarist, producer,new-comer etc.

Not sure if you kept the individuals responses for this poll, but it would be interesting to see their responses in 3-5 years from now. As well as the artists and reps. for their respected businesses that were tallied as well. Thall!

To me, the "djent" sound, even if it's not the orignial meaning of the word, refers more to a guitar tone than to a distortion overdose, even tough this tone should not be named "djent", since it isn't really related. Also, I strongly agree that "djent" has become more of a genre than a guitar sound, it simply has the wrong name. In a "musical structure" approach, what truely qualify the music we're trying to describe (based over syncopations, polyrythm & polymeters, combinaison of low heavy guitars and ambient guitars (or more beautiful guitars), etc...) has no name yet, except djent. We have to separate things, maybe Djent should be considered as a guitar sound effect (just like Clean, Distortion, etc...) because the onomatope doesn't apply to the "syncopations, polyrythm & polymeters" etc, but to the general sound of the guitar and the described above should have another name. Moreover, "djent" can apply to any kind of metal, it can be deathcore, progressive metal, whateverthefuckcore, etc... It seems only legit to give a new name to the "style" of metal we're trying to describe.

Quite satisfied with the results of the survey, I think the best thing that the term has given to most people (judging by the survey) is that it has helped them discover music that they like/love.

great job with the survey and tallying the results!

This was very cool and I'm not at all suprised by the results since I have had the privilege and chance to talk to so many people on here. It's funny because like many of the people who took this, I am also very much in the grey region about subject, except of course for the genre bit. Sadly I wasn't able to do this because my phone wouldn't let me. Oh well.

This was a very interesting read. I loled at how both Daniel Bergström and Steve Joh say that Djent has not helped them discover music they enjoy.