Metal umlaut

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Motley Crue's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name MotleyCrue Star.jpg
Mötley Crüe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name

A metal umlaut is a diacritic that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Motörhead, The Accüsed and Mötley Crüe.

A diacritic – also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent – is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

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.

Contents

Usage

In German orthography the umlaut version of a vowel is pronounced differently from the normal vowel; the letters u and ü represent distinct vowels, as do o and ö as well as a and ä . In some other languages it's used to show differences in usual pronunciation: e.g., Spanish bilingüe ('bilingual') is pronounced [bi.ˈliŋ.gue] instead of [bi.ˈliŋ.ge] ; Catalan països ('countries') is [pə.ˈi.zus] instead of [ˈpəi.zus] ; Welsh copïo ('to copy') is [kɔ.ˈpiː.ɔ] , not [ˈkɔp.jɔ] in this form of usage it is called the dieresis.

German orthography is the orthography used in writing the German language, which is largely phonemic. However, it shows many instances of spellings that are historic or analogous to other spellings rather than phonemic. The pronunciation of almost every word can be derived from its spelling once the spelling rules are known, but the opposite is not generally the case.

The Germanic umlaut is a type of linguistic umlaut in which a back vowel changes to the associated front vowel (fronting) or a front vowel becomes closer to (raising) when the following syllable contains, , or. It took place separately in various Germanic languages starting around AD 450 or 500 and affected all of the early languages except Gothic. An example of the resulting vowel alternation is the English plural foot ~ feet.

Ü, is a character that typically represents a close front rounded vowel. It is classified as a separate letter in several extended Latin alphabets, but as the letter U with an umlaut/diaeresis in others such as Catalan, French, Galician, German, Occitan and Spanish. Although not a part of their alphabet, it also appears in languages such as Swedish when retained in foreign names and words, and Swedish spells said letter and sound in domestic words solely as Y. A small number of Dutch words also use this as a diaeresis.

Among English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band's logo a Teutonic quality—connoting stereotypes of boldness and brutality presumably associated with Germanic and Nordic cultures. Its use has also been attributed to a desire for a "gothic horror" feel. [1] The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band's name.

Blackletter Old script typeface used throughout Western Europe

Blackletter, also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century. It continued to be used for the Danish language until 1875, and for German, Estonian and Latvian until the 20th century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes the entire group of blackletter faces is incorrectly referred to as Fraktur. Blackletter is sometimes referred to as Old English, but it is not to be confused with the Old English language, which predates blackletter by many centuries and was written in the insular script or in Futhorc.

Typeface Set of characters that share common design features

In typography, a typeface is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation, and designer or foundry. For example, "ITC Garamond Bold Condensed Italic" means the bold, condensed-width, italic version of ITC Garamond. It is a different font from "ITC Garamond Condensed Italic" and "ITC Garamond Bold Condensed", but all are fonts within the same typeface, "ITC Garamond". ITC Garamond is a different typeface from "Adobe Garamond" or "Monotype Garamond". There are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly.

Foreign branding is an advertising and marketing term describing the use of foreign or foreign-sounding brand names for companies, products, and services. When the actual country of origin may not be beneficial, companies tend to use a foreign branding strategy, trying to make customers believe that the company and/or its products originate from a more favourable country than they actually do.

History

The first gratuitous use of the umlaut in the name of a hard rock or metal band appears to have been by Blue Öyster Cult, in 1970. Blue Öyster Cult's website states it was added by guitarist and keyboardist Allen Lanier, [2] but rock critic Richard Meltzer claims to have suggested it to their producer and manager Sandy Pearlman just after Pearlman came up with the name: "I said, 'How about an umlaut over the O?' Metal had a Wagnerian aspect anyway." [3]

Blue Öyster Cult American hard rock band

Blue Öyster Cult is an American rock band formed on Long Island, New York in 1967, perhaps best known for the singles "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "Burnin' for You", and "Godzilla." Blue Öyster Cult has sold more than 24 million records worldwide, including 7 million in the United States alone. The band's music videos, especially "Burnin' for You," received heavy rotation on MTV when the music television network premiered in 1981, cementing the band's contribution to the development and success of the music video in modern popular culture.

Allen Lanier American musician

Allen Glover Lanier was an American musician who played keyboards and rhythm guitar. He was an original member of Blue Öyster Cult. He resided in Manhattan.

Richard Meltzer is a rock critic, performer, and writer. He is considered by some rock historians to be the first to write real analysis of rock and roll and is credited with inventing "rock criticism".

Reactions

Speakers of languages which use an umlaut to designate a pronunciation change may understand the intended effect, but perceive the result differently. When Mötley Crüe visited Germany, singer Vince Neil said the band couldn't figure out why "the crowds were chanting, Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!" [4]

Vince Neil American singer and musician, member of Mötley Crüe

Vincent Neil Wharton is an American musician. He is best known as the lead vocalist of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe which he co-founded in 1981, but he has also released three albums as a solo artist. He is known for his turbulent personal life which has led to multiple arrests and convictions, including one for vehicular manslaughter.

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in an interview about the mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap , fictional rocker David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says, "It's like a pair of eyes. You're looking at the umlaut, and it's looking at you." [5] The heavy metal parody band Gwar parodied the use of metal umlauts in a lyric insert included with its first record, stylizing the song names with gratuitous diacritics. [6] In 1997, the satirical newspaper The Onion published an article titled "Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts." [7]

A mockumentary or docucomedy is a type of movie or television show depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary.

<i>This Is Spinal Tap</i> 1984 film by Rob Reiner

This Is Spinal Tap is a 1984 American mockumentary film directed and co-written by Rob Reiner. It stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as members of the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, and Reiner as Marty Di Bergi, a documentary filmmaker who follows them on their American tour. The film satirizes the behavior and musical pretensions of rock bands and the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries such as Gimme Shelter (1970), The Song Remains the Same (1976), and The Last Waltz (1978). Most of its dialogue was improvised and dozens of hours were filmed.

David Ivor St. Hubbins is a fictional character in the mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap (1984). In the film, he is the lead singer and co-lead guitarist of the mock rock band Spinal Tap. David is played by actor Michael McKean, who improvised the role through the whole film. McKean writes in his introduction to This Is Spinal Tap: The Official Guide, "When I am called upon to generate copy about the mostly fictional entity called Spinal Tap, I usually do so in the mostly fictional character of David St. Hubbins."

Band or album name examples

English-speaking countries

Other countries

Video games and books

Other products with decorative umlauts

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. Garofalo, Rebee (1997). Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA. Allyn & Bacon. p. 292. ISBN   0-205-13703-2. Some groups, for example Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead, added gratuitous umlauts to their names to conjure up a more generic gothic horror, a practice that continued into the 1980s with Mötley Crüe and others.
  2. "BÖC Retrospectively: Stalk Forrest Group 1969–1970". blueoystercult.com. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  3. Lisa Gidley (2000). "Hell Holes: Spin̈al Tap's main man explains the importance of the umlaut". CMJ. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  4. Eric Spitznagel (November 27, 2009). "Motley Crue's Vince Neil is Finally Bored With Boobs". Vanity Fair.
  5. CMJ New Music Monthly Oct 2000 https://books.google.com/books?id=zioEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA11&dq=%22looking%20at%20the%20umlaut%22&pg=PA11
  6. https://www.discogs.com/Gwar-Hell-O/release/1973195
  7. https://www.theonion.com/united-states-toughens-image-with-umlauts-1819564308