This vivid ethnography of the musical lives of heavy metal, rock, and jazz musicians in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio shows how musicians engage with the world of sound to forge meaningful experiences of music. Unlike most popular music studies, which only provide a scholar's view, this book is based on intensive fieldwork and hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews. Rich descriptions of the musical life of metal bars and jazz clubs get readers close to the people who make and listen to the music.
Of special interest are Harris M. Berger's interviews with Timmy “The Ripper” Owens, now famous as lead singer for the pioneering heavy metal band, Judas Priest. Owens and other performers share their own experiences of the music, thereby challenging traditional notions of harmony and musical structure. Using ideas from practice theory and phenomenology, Berger shows that musical perception is a kind of practice, both creatively achieved by the listener and profoundly informed by social context.