-core music

So, it starts with coverage of the latest crowd gunning-down (James Dao and Serge F. Kovaleski, “Music Style Is Called Supremacist Recruiting Tool”, NYT yesterday):

… the shootings [at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee] also shined a light on an obscure cultural scene that is helping keep the movement energized and providing it with a powerful tool for recruiting the young and disaffected: white power music, widely known as “hatecore.”

Yes, hatecore.

I’ll get back to the morphology shortly, but first, some more of the story:

For more than a decade, Wade M. Page, a former soldier who the police say was the lone gunman — and who was himself killed by a police officer on Sunday — played guitar and bass with an array of heavy metal bands that trafficked in the lyrics of hate.

Even in Mr. Page’s below-the-radar world, those bands — Blue Eyed Devils, Intimidation One and his own, End Apathy — provided a touchstone and a gateway to a larger cause, as they have for many others in recent years.

“It is one of the pillars of the white supremacist subculture,” Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, said of white power music. “The message can motivate people to action, cause them to be proud of themselves and their cause. It can aggravate anger levels. It can rouse resentment.”

Two of Mr. Page’s bands make a cameo appearance in an F.B.I. informer’s report made public this year in a Florida drug investigation of people involved in white supremacist groups. The informer, who is not named, reported that the bands, Definite Hate and End Apathy, both played at a $20-per-person St. Patrick’s Day gathering of the Confederate Hammerskins group last year at a bar in rural Christmas, Fla.

Arno Michaelis, the former leader of a white power band called Centurion, whose CD “14 Words” has sold 20,000 copies worldwide, recalls being swept away when he heard racist music from the British skinhead group Skrewdriver in the 1990s.

“Listening to that music was an essential part of how we rallied around the idea of racism,” said Mr. Michaelis, now 41. “It made me feel I was part of something greater, that I had purpose and that my race was something very special and was something I needed to defend.”

… Racist and neo-Nazi rock began as an offshoot of British punk in the late 1970s, appropriating both its shaved-head style and so-called oi sound featuring slashing guitar chords and barked vocals. By the 1990s, the music had become heavier, louder and darker, featuring violent diatribes against blacks, Jews and, later, gays and immigrants.

In 1999, the National Alliance, founded by William Pierce, author of the 1978 white supremacist novel “The Turner Diaries,” bought Resistance Records, the largest and most prominent label for white power music. The acquisition signaled the growing importance of the music to recruiting a new generation of white supremacists.

Deeply unsettling.

But on the morphological point, things start with hard core / hard-core / hardcore. First the nominal, in the sense

an irreducible nucleus or residuum; also a stubborn or reactionary minority; something blatant or intractable; freq. attrib. (OED2)

With the first cite

1936   Nature 12 Sept. 441/2   Possibly 200,000 would be practically unemployable on any ordinary basis—the ‘hard core’ as it is called.

Eventually we get to attributive uses, like:

1973   Times Lit. Suppl. 20 Apr. 451/5   The leading modern writer of hard-core science fiction.

And this serves as the core, so to speak, for specialization to pop-musical uses:

hard core adj. and n. (usu. as one word) orig. U.S.,  (a) adj. denoting harsh, aggressive, or extreme versions of various types of popular music (originally punk, now also rap, techno, etc.), typically faster, louder, or more experimental than related forms, and determinedly less mainstream;  (b) n. any of various forms of popular music (often a variety of an established genre) regarded as particularly extreme, aggressive, or experimental. (Draft additions March 2003)

(The first cite, from 1977, has “the hardest core hard core glue stained sounds of the new wave”, with internal inflection, but there are also many cites for externally inflected hardcorest, a number with superlatives piled up:

I know tyrannosaurus Rex was the hardcorest strongest animal to ever walk the earth? but did they ever really have feathers, or was that only at childhood? (link)

But there are also things like:

The Hardcorest of New York Hardcore (link) )

In any case, there are a huge number of cites for musical hardcore. Wikipedia thinks it’s a truncation of hardcore punk:

Hardcore punk (often referred to simply as hardcore) is a punk rock music genre that originated in the late 1970s. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock.

and that’s plausible.

Then we get to portmanteau offshoots, with the adjective hard replaced by relevant nouns:

Queercore (or Homocore) is a cultural and social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of punk. It is distinguished by being discontent with society in general and its rejection of the disapproval of the gay, bisexual, and lesbian communities. Queercore expresses itself in a DIY style through zines, music, writing, art and film.

As a musical genre, it may be distinguished by lyrics exploring themes of prejudice and dealing with issues such as sexual identity, gender identity and the rights of the individual; more generally bands offer a critique of society endemic to their position within it, sometimes in a light-hearted way, sometimes seriously. Musically, many queercore bands originated in the punk scene but the industrial music culture has been influential as well. Queercore groups encompass many genres such as hardcore punk, synthpunk, indie rock, power pop, No Wave, noise, experimental, industrial and others. (link)

Metalcore is a subgenre of heavy metal combining various elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. (link)

And now hatecore. There is as yet no English Wikipedia page for the word (there seems to be some dispute about its definition), but there are pages in German, Polish, Portuguese, Finnish, Russian, and no doubt other languages.





One Response to “-core music”

  1. Ben Zimmer Says:

    See the Summer 2012 installment of “Among the New Words” in American Speech for further discussion of -core and other productive libfixes in the naming of new musical genres.

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