Music as Evil: Deviance and Metaculture in Classical Music




Pino, Nathan W.

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University of Exeter


This paper aims to apply the sociology of deviance and the concept of metaculture to the sociology of high-art and music. Examples of classical music criticisms over time are presented and discussed. Music critics have engaged in metaculture and norm promotion by labeling certain composers or styles of music as negatively deviant in a number of ways. Composers or styles of classical music have been labeled as not music, not worthy of being considered the future of music, a threat to culture, politically unacceptable, evil, and even criminal. Critics have linked composers they are critical of with other deviant categories, and ethnocentrism, racism, and other biases play a role in critics’ attempts to engage in norm promotion and affect the public temper. As society changes, musical norms and therefore deviant labels concerning music also change. Maverick composers push musical ideas forward, and those music critics who resist these changes are unable to successfully promote their dated, more traditional norms. Implications of the findings for the sociology of deviance and the sociology of music are discussed.



deviance, metaculture, classical music, Sociology


Pino, N. W. (2009). Music as evil: Deviance and metaculture in classical music. Music and Arts in Action, 2(1), pp. 37-55.


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