What makes metalheads happy? A phenomenological analysis of flow experiences in metal musicians

Andrés Kaltwasser Hamilton, David Martínez Pernía, Carolina Puyol Wilson, Daniela Carrasco Dell’Aquila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Flow can be understood as an experience in which awareness merges with the action itself and there is a perfect balance between activity and challenge that produces an optimal functioning as a result. Research on flow has shown a relationship with different types of music, but it has not been analyzed with metal musicians. The main aim of this research is to understand how metal heads experience flow when they play live music, considering the metal movement’s characteristics and how these components can shape the associated flow experience. We used the phenomenological interview method to collect data regarding the flow experience of metal heads. To analyze the phenomenological data, Moustakas’ method of transcendental phenomenology was applied, which allowed us to find the stable structure of their flow experience. This study found that the essence of metal musicians’ flow was an experience in which the participants channeled their emotions to play with a sense of agency while they merged with the band and the fans in a unique ritual. This work describes flow experiences in musical instances, highlighting the importance of others, which supports the findings of previous studies on group flow. Also, our finding that negative emotions can enhance flow in the metal context deepens our understanding of a phenomenon that has, until now, only been considered through the lens of positive emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-565
Number of pages29
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Flow
  • Moustakas’ transcendental
  • metal music
  • musicians
  • positive psychology

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