The Heavy Metal course at the University of Helsinki

It is said about Finland that it is the country that has the most Heavy Metal bands per capita in the world.

It’s a fact that I still have to check, as well as find out more about which other countries are at the top of the hypothetical ranking for a future post.

But in the meantime there is a development in this part of Finnish culture that I couldn’t stop myself from sharing with you: Heavy Metal has become a university subject in Helsinki.

Heavy Metal is now a university subject at the University of Helsinki Share on X

Heavy Metal in Finland

The post about Heavy Metal in Finland that aroused the most interest in the blog was about priest who gave heavy metal masses in Helsinki. And it wasn’t baseless: this priest revitalized an activity – going to mass – which is increasingly seen just for people of certain age. But he was able to draw in a lot of curious people and religious people who just didn’t like to go to mass.

Heavy Metal church service in Helsinki
See the heavy band in the background. Source (CC: by-sa-nc)

We also did a while back a post on the 10 best Finnish bands, and many of them turned out to be some kind of Metal bands. This was another indicator of how important this musical genre is for Finland. Other places we can turn to to confirm that the country loves metal are the Tuska Festival (a Metal-only music festival in Finland) and the Tavastia Klubi: a Metal club that is one of the most revered in Helsinki.

The Heavy metal course at the University of Helsinki

The University of Helsinki is Finland’s most famous and the best in terms of international university rankings.

The main building of the university, in the center of Helsinki. Source (CC: by-sa).

And the university has decided to innovate in its summer courses (yes, this course has already finished, but since it is a successful one it repeats every year) and has created a 3-week course titled “Heavy Metal and Hard Rock: Mu­sic, His­tory, Society and Culture” (originally, when it was created some years ago, it went by the title of “Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary History and Society“).

This is the trailer of the course, as narrated by its teacher, the doctoral candidate Paolo Ribaldini:

The content of the classes of the Heavy Metal course

As taken from its website:

The exploration of the development of the popular music style of Heavy Metal. The primary focus will be on the musical elements of the genre, then on its historical features and its relation to contemporary Western society. A number of lectures will be devoted to Heavy Metal in Finland, where this genre is particularly successful and characterizes musical culture more than in other European or non-European countries

University of Helsinki

The course includes, including homework and final thesis, 135h of work for the student (5 ETCS credits). It costs, if I’m reading it correctly, 50€ for the students of the University of Helsinki (for students of Grade or Doctorate 940€, and for professionals 1400€).

In short, this is the summary and objectives of the course:

The students will appreciate the importance of heavy metal music in Western musical culture, its historical development and the characteristics of the subculture related to the music. This subculture is particularly strong in Finland, and Finnish HM is recognised worldwide as a key manifestation of this musical style. The students will also achieve competences in music theory, sociology of music, music semiotics and cultural studies. Furthermore, the course gives them a solid basis to critically understand popular music genres other than Heavy Metal.

University of Helsinki
A concert in Helsinki.

And how will the students get to do all this? With classes, multimedia material such as songs, films and documentaries; workshops and seminars; and group discussion. They will even go one or two times to Heavy Metal concerts in Helsinki all together, learning with the local musical scene.

Pretty cool, right? Let’s end the post with another video from Paolo Ribaldini, the course’s teacher, playing with his band.

Ribaldini is also a heavy metal musician and vocalist himself. He is a doctoral candidate and his research focuses on this musical genre, specifically on sociological, philosophical aspects, and the development of music.

After reading about it, would you attend this course on Heavy Metal? Which is your favorite band of this genre?