Metallica and the Case of the Missing 32nd Note


One of the most-read posts on my blog is this one about the microtiming in Metallica’s masterpiece “Master of Puppets.” Every few months I run across new discussions on different forums or subreddits where someone drops a link to that post. But the most exposure that piece has gotten by far has been very recent, from an excellent video made by one Jake Lizzio who runs Signals Music Studio in a suburb near Chicago. He gives an insightful discussion of the rhythm timings I describe and a great explanation of the stakes of the issue, and I’m amazed and honored that my post inspired him to put that together. Definitely check out some of his other videos if you have a chance! As of today, this video below has over 300,000 views, way more people than I ever could have imagined would be interested in the minute timing details of Metallica’s riffs. (And certainly a bigger audience than I will ever get in an academic music theory journal.)

By far the coolest thing about seeing my research get shared, though, has been reading the discussion it generates. Apparently the idea of microtiming analysis struck a nerve among lots of internet commenters. Many of the posters are hashing out the same stakes about the validity and purpose of music notation that ethnomusicologists and music theorists have been writing stuffy 50-page-long journal articles about for decades. But of course, net denizens get to the point faster (when they don’t go off topic) and are a LOT more colorful. Continue reading