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Death metal band Asphyx headbanging during a performance. AsphyxBand.jpg
Death metal band Asphyx headbanging during a performance.

Headbanging is violently shaking one's head in time with music. It is common in the contemporary rock, punk and heavy metal music genres, where headbanging is often used by musicians on stage. In recent times, headbanging has become more common in various electronic dance music genres. [1] Headbanging is also common in traditional Islamic Sufi music traditions such as Qawwali in the Indian subcontinent and Iran.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.



Sufi music

Headbanging has been common in Islamic devotional Sufi music traditions dating back centuries, such as the Indian subcontinent's 600 year-old Qawwali tradition, [2] [3] and among dervishes in Iran's Kurdistan Province. [4] Qawwali performances, particularly at Sufi shrines in the Indian subcontinent, usually in honour of Allah, Islamic prophets, or Sufi saints, often have performers and spectators induced into a trance-like state and headbanging in a manner similar to metal and rock concerts. [5] [6] [7] A popular song often performed by Sufis and fakirs in the Indian subcontinent is the 600 year-old "Dama Dam Mast Qalandar" (in honour of 13th-century Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar), which often has performers and spectators rapidly headbanging to the beats of naukat drum sounds. [3]

Islamic music may refer to religious music, as performed in Islamic public services or private devotions, or more generally to musical traditions of the Muslim world. The classic heartland of Islam is the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia, and it also included the medieval Iberian peninsula (al-Andalus). Due to Islam being a multi-ethnic religion, the musical expression of its adherents is vastly diverse. Indigenous traditions of various part have influenced the musical styles popular among Muslims today.

Sufi music is the devotional music of the Sufis, inspired by the works of Sufi poets, like Rumi, Hafiz, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusrow and Khwaja Ghulam Farid.

Indian subcontinent Peninsular region in south-central Asia south of the Himalayas

The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The most well-known Qawwali performer in modern times is late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whose performances often induced trance-like headbanging experiences in the late 20th century. [2] Khan's popularity in the Indian subcontinent led to the emergence of fusion genres such as Sufi rock and techno qawwali in South Asian popular music (Pakistani pop, Indi-pop, Bollywood music and British-Asian music) in the 1990s which combine the traditional trance-like zikr headbanging of Qawwali with elements of modern rock, techno or dance music, which has occasionally been met with criticism and controversy from traditional Sufi and Qawwali circles. [8]

Pakistan federal parliamentary constitutional republic in South Asia

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China in the far northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Pakistani musician, primarily a singer of qawwali

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, born Anjum Pervaiz Ali Khan, was a legendary Pakistani vocalist and musician, primarily a singer of Qawwali, a form of Sufi Islamic devotional music. Widely considered one of the greatest voices ever recorded, he possessed an extraordinary range of vocal abilities and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours. Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Khan is widely credited with introducing Qawwali music to international audiences. He is popularly known as "Shahenshah-e-Qawwali", meaning "The King of Kings of Qawwali".

Sufi rock/ Sufi folk rock is a subgenre of rock music that combines rock with classical Islamic sufi music traditions. It emerged in the early 1990s and became widely popular in the late 1990s in India, Pakistan and Turkey. The term "sufi rock" was coined in 1993 by writer Nadeem F. Paracha to define the Pakistani band Junoon, who pioneered the process of fusing conventional rock music with folk sufi music and imagery.

Rock music

The origin of the term "headbanging" is contested. It is possible that the term "headbanger" was coined during Led Zeppelin's first US tour in 1969. [9] During a show at the Boston Tea Party, audience members in the first row were banging their heads against the stage in rhythm with the music.

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band's heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia and folk music.

The Boston Tea Party was a concert venue located first at 53 Berkeley Street in the South End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, and later relocated to 15 Lansdowne Street in the former site of competitor, the Ark, in Boston's Kenmore Square neighborhood, across the street from Fenway Park. It operated from 1967 to the end of 1970. Its closing was due in part to the increasing cost of hiring bands who were playing more and more at large outdoor festivals and arena rock concerts.

Furthermore, concert footage of Led Zeppelin performing at the Royal Albert Hall January 9, 1970 on the Led Zeppelin DVD released in 2003, the front row can be seen headbanging throughout the performance. [10]

<i>Led Zeppelin DVD</i> 2003 video by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin DVD is a double DVD set by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in the United Kingdom on 26 May 2003, and the United States on 27 May 2003. It contains live concert footage of the band spanning the years 1969 to 1979. The DVD includes performances from the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, Madison Square Garden in 1973, Earls Court in 1975, and Knebworth in 1979, plus other footage. Bootleg footage from some of the concerts is interspersed with the professionally shot material.

Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath are among the first documented headbangers, as it is possible to see in footage of their gig in Paris, 1970. [11]

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and recorded the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city Birmingham, England in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Lemmy from Motörhead, however, said in an interview on the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years , that the term "Headbanger" may have originated in the band's name, as in "Motorheadbanger".

Ian Gillan, frontman of Deep Purple, when asked if he invented headbanging, said: "That’s a definite possibility", although he claimed that "it was not really head banging — more hair floating". [12]

The practice itself and its association with the rock genre was popularized by guitarist Angus Young of the band AC/DC. [13] [ unreliable source? ]

Early televised performances in the 1950s of Jerry Lee Lewis depict young male fans who had grown their hair in the fashion of Lewis, where his front locks would fall in front of his face. Lewis would continuously flip his hair back away from his face, prompting the fans to mimic the movement in rapid repetition in a fashion resembling Head banging.

Dave Tyo of Bipolar demonstrating the 'whiplash' technique at CBGB in New York City. BIPOLAR-Dave Tyo Headbang CBGB.jpg
Dave Tyo of Bipolar demonstrating the 'whiplash' technique at CBGB in New York City.

Health issues

In 2005, Evanescence guitarist Terry Balsamo incurred a stroke which doctors postulated may have been caused by frequent headbanging. [14] In 2007, Irish singer and former Moloko vocalist Roisin Murphy suffered an eye injury during a performance of her song "Primitive" when she headbanged into a chair on stage. [15] In 2009, Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya began experiencing spinal problems due to his aggressive form of headbanging, and had to undergo anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. [16] [17] In 2011, Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine said that his neck and spine condition, known as spinal stenosis, was caused by many years of headbanging. [18] Slipknot sampler Craig Jones once suffered from whiplash after an extended case of powerful headbanging[ citation needed ].

Several case reports can be found in the medical literature which connect excessive headbanging to aneurysms and hematomas within the brain and damage to the arteries in the neck which supply the brain. More specifically, cases with damage to the basilar artery, [19] [20] the carotid artery [21] and the vertebral artery [22] have been reported. Several case reports also associated headbanging with subdural hematoma, [23] [24] sometimes fatal, [25] and mediastinal emphysema similar to shaken baby syndrome. [26] An observational study comparing headbanging to non-headbanging teenagers in a dance marathon concluded that the activity is associated with pain in varying parts of the body, most notably the neck, where it manifests as whiplash. [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

Head injury serious trauma to the cranium

A head injury is any injury that results in trauma to the skull or brain. The terms traumatic brain injury and head injury are often used interchangeably in the medical literature. Because head injuries cover such a broad scope of injuries, there are many causes—including accidents, falls, physical assault, or traffic accidents—that can cause head injuries.

Music of Pakistan

The Music of Pakistan includes diverse elements ranging from music from various parts of South Asia as well as Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and modern-day Western popular music influences. With these multiple influences, a distinctive Pakistani sound has emerged.

Abusive head trauma

Abusive head trauma (AHT), commonly known as shaken baby syndrome (SBS), is an injury to a child's head caused by someone else. Symptoms may range from subtle to obvious. Symptoms may include vomiting or a baby that will not settle. Often there are no visible signs of trauma. Complications include seizures, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, and cognitive impairment.

Dura mater There are 4 processes of dura mater

Dura mater is a thick membrane made of dense irregular connective tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It is the outermost of the three layers of membrane called the meninges that protect the central nervous system. The other two meningeal layers are the arachnoid mater and the pia mater. The dura surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and is responsible for keeping in the cerebrospinal fluid. It is derived from neural crest cells.

Data Darbar Sufi shrine in Pakistan

Data Darbar, located in the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan is the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia. It was built to house the remains of the Muslim mystic, Abul Hassan Ali Hujwiri, commonly known as Data Ganj Baksh, who is believed to have lived on the site in the 11th century CE. The site is considered to be the most sacred place in Lahore, and attracts up to one million visitors to its annual urs festival.

Subdural hematoma Hematoma usually associated with traumatic brain injury

A subdural hematoma (SDH) is a type of hematoma—usually associated with traumatic brain injury—in which blood gathers between the inner layer of the dura mater and the arachnoid mater. It usually results from tears in bridging veins that cross the subdural space.

Intracranial hemorrhage hemorrhage, or bleeding, within the skull

Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), also known as intracranial bleed, is bleeding within the skull. Subtypes are intracerebral bleeds, subarachnoid bleeds, epidural bleeds, and subdural bleeds.

Epidural hematoma type of traumatic brain injury in which a buildup of blood occurs between the dura mater and the skull

Epidural hematoma is when bleeding occurs between the tough outer membrane covering the brain and the skull. Often there is loss of consciousness following a head injury, a brief regaining of consciousness, and then loss of consciousness again. Other symptoms may include headache, confusion, vomiting, and an inability to move parts of the body. Complications may include seizures.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, is a Pakistani musician, primarily of Qawwali, a devotional music of the Muslim Sufis. He is the nephew of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and son of Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan and also the grandson of Qawwali singer Fateh Ali Khan. In addition to Qawwali, he also performs ghazals and other light music. He is also popular as a playback singer in Bollywood and the Pakistan film industry.

Sexual headaches are a type of headache that occur in the skull and neck during sexual activity, including masturbation or orgasm. These headaches are usually benign, but occasionally are caused by intracranial hemorrhage and cerebral infarction, especially if the pain is sudden and severe. They may be caused by general exertion, sexual excitement, or contraction of the neck and facial muscles. Most cases can be successfully treated with medication.

Anterior inferior cerebellar artery

The anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) is one of three pairs of arteries that supplies blood to the cerebellum.

Metal Health (song) 1983 single by Quiet Riot

"Metal Health", sometimes listed as "Metal Health ", "Bang Your Head" or, as it was listed on the Billboard Hot 100, "Bang Your Head ", is a song by the American heavy metal band Quiet Riot on their breakthrough album, Metal Health. One of their best known hits and receiving heavy MTV music video and radio play, "Metal Health" was the band's second top 40 hit, peaking at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was ranked #35 on VH1's Top 40 Metal Songs.

Vascular myelopathy refers to an abnormality of the spinal cord in regard to its blood supply. The blood supply is complicated and supplied by two major vessel groups: the posterior spinal arteries and the anterior spinal arteries—of which the Artery of Adamkiewicz is the largest. Both the posterior and anterior spinal arteries run the entire length of the spinal cord and receive anastomotic (conjoined) vessels in many places. The anterior spinal artery has a less efficient supply of blood and is therefore more susceptible to vascular disease. Whilst atherosclerosis of spinal arteries is rare, necrosis in the anterior artery can be caused by disease in vessels originating from the segmental arteries such as atheroma or aortic dissection.

Midline shift

Midline shift is a shift of the brain past its center line. The sign may be evident on neuroimaging such as CT scanning. The sign is considered ominous because it is commonly associated with a distortion of the brain stem that can cause serious dysfunction evidenced by abnormal posturing and failure of the pupils to constrict in response to light. Midline shift is often associated with high intracranial pressure (ICP), which can be deadly. In fact, midline shift is a measure of ICP; presence of the former is an indication of the latter. Presence of midline shift is an indication for neurosurgeons to take measures to monitor and control ICP. Immediate surgery may be indicated when there is a midline shift of over 5 mm. The sign can be caused by conditions including traumatic brain injury,stroke, hematoma, or birth deformity that leads to a raised intracranial pressure.


Noisecreep is a hard rock and heavy metal music news and media website based in the United States. The site was created by AOL Music in March 2009.

Dama Dam Mast Qalandar is a spiritual Sufi song written in the honour of the most revered Sufi saint of Sindh, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177–1274) of Sehwan Sharif. The original poem was initially written by the 13th-century Sufi poet Amir Khusrow, then further modified by Bulleh Shah in the 18th century.

Inner Sanctum is a Death/Thrash metal band from Bangalore, India. They were formed in 2006.

A sports-related traumatic brain injury is a serious accident which may lead to significant morbidity or mortality. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in sports are usually a result of physical contact with another person or stationary object, these sports may include boxing, football, field/ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, soccer, wrestling, auto racing, cycling, equestrian, roller blading, skateboarding, skiing, or snowboarding.

Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu is a Nigerian neurosurgeon.

Dhruv Sangari Indian singer (b. 1981)

Dhruv Sangari also known as Bilal Chishty Sangari بلال ڇݜتى سنگارى is a Sufi and Classical Indian vocalist, composer, lyricist, savant and teacher. He is the son of well known scholar and author Kumkum Sangari and noted painter Mahendra 'Manu' Sangari.


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