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Gothic (Goth) Music

Updated on February 29, 2020

What is 'gothic'?

First, separate yourself from the concept that the word 'gothic' is bad. It is a reference first to a type of architecture with lean lines and sweeping counterbalances. The word also refers to gloomy, dark or mysterious themes in literature, a type of font which is used to print in the German language, and most recently - a subculture which branched off of the punk movement of the late 70's and early 80's.

Wait... punk?

Yes, punk. The gothic subculture was often referred to as 'Positive punk' by those who encountered it.

Anders Manga - Goth Techno!

A brief history of Goth

Bearing in mind -what- the source of the whole gothic movement was, namely an aversion to the rise of bitter and harsh punk music, how exactly did this whole genre get it's start?

Mike Mercer, author of numerous books related to the Gothic subculture and something of a gothic legend, stated in an interview that the first gothic band was Gloria Mundi. Other sources have pointed to Concrete Blonde as the true beginning of the musical movement.

What everyone can agree on is that beyond the trappings of the subculture, a rich musical avenue was created in the late 1970's as punk rock became more repetitive and angry. The ancestors of Gothic music, as the sound has changed since it began, struck lively tunes with heart-thrilling drum beats and deep ear caressing vocals.

Dozens of bands, big and small, trace their lineage to the fading popularity of hardcore punk rock, and the rise of something reverent and new.

Gothic Bands

While there are many bands which can be swept under the massive rug of the gothic music genre, there are some bands whose influence or activity in the scene were integral to the strengthening of the genre's foundation.

Bauhaus

From the very beginning of the gothic music movement, Bauhaus remained the truest source and launching point for the genre. Everything that represented the core of the gothic subculture, Bauhaus represented in every way. They had the look, the lyrics, and the inspired and fashionable ensembles. When one looks to the past in this genre, inevitably you look to Bauhaus.

UK Decay

It was Abbo from UK Decay who attributed the term 'gothic' to the genre in the early days, giving a singular banner under which the lost, the weary, the disillusioned punk kids came togther.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Much like the band Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees were not actually 'gothic,' but they influenced the genre in leaps and bounds. Siouxsie created the stereotypical gothic look for women, and this group solidified the use of the term gothic.

The Cast of Extras

Joy Division, as well as groups like Play Dead and Sisters of Mercy, added a fuller definition and influence to the gothic music scene. While the Sisters arrived in the scene much later, the influences of the bands mentioned above ricochet through the scene to this day.

This list is by no means comprehensive of the wide variety of bands to whom the tag of 'gothic' can be attributed to. In fact, this list only features the major names tossed around during the early 80's when the gothic music scene was just getting heavy.

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    • gypsyworldwife profile image

      Maria 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      i like the band Madness of the night, they are a new band but i enjoy listening to them a lot especially the song Oppression. The singer was in nikab before and took it off. I'm a fan right away of them.

    • profile image

      Salafrance 

      8 years ago

      Emo didn't exist back in 1983 - true punk precedes emo by a decade or two. Also, those of you who've dipped into goth music are likely unaware of how many different genres there are nestling under the gothic wing.

      Hand on heart, I like sad music. I love early offerings from The Cure, for example. I like songs about difference and distance and alienation. Currently, I'm listening to a lot of neo-medieval and electro-medieval, drawn by the beauty and the romance of the music in these genres - much of it being focused on the idea of courtly love and based heavily on examples drawn from the time.

      Check out Qntal - Entre Moi, or Estampie - Floret Silva, for reference.

    • profile image

      Steven Vang 

      8 years ago

      thank for this post

    • RedxVelvet profile image

      RedxVelvet 

      8 years ago from California, United States

      I'm glad to see another who is aware of what goth truly stemmed from and where it's roots lie. It is sad to think that people consider Marilyn Manson and Evanescence Goth. Although they are good artists, they are in no way goth, even if they are goth-inspired.

      A very good hub,Gamergirl! I give you a thumbs up plus a few others!

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      8 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Mia -

      Actually, the only terminology mixing the Victorian era and the word Gothic refers to architecture, not clothing styles. Victorian era clothing is replicated in more modern clothing styles and yes, quite prevalent in gothic clothing as a method of rebellion against the revealing and to be blunt, slutty clothes of today.

      Thanks for visiting the hub, though!

    • profile image

      Mia Sparks 

      8 years ago

      Though like to point. Gothic was around way before then.

      Ever heard of Gothic Victorian (in which I am obsessed with their clothing) Yea, it existed back then. So just saying

    • profile image

      Amos 

      9 years ago

      Nice hub, between your article and the comments I did gather some info I didn't know.

      1 question though; You listed Siouxie Sioux as influential but not goth and made no reference to Robert Smith (The Cure). I don't put The Cure a whole lot behind Bauhaus in their importance and they are far ahead of Joy Division, Play Dead and Sisters of Mercy, yet you left them out. My question is are you perhaps showing some bias against Siouxie and Robert because they actually made the pop charts too, and well, if it's pop it can't be Goth?

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 

      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Funny how things change... goth? Death disco... post punk... dark indie. Yes, they all describe me! Although I dont look quite graveyard yet!! There are few underground bands coming through who follow the lead of bauhouse, the cure, siouxsie, killing joke, Joy Division ... things move in circles. Thanks for your clear explanation :)

    • moondive profile image

      moondive 

      10 years ago from Modena,Italy

      Grat hub!

    • profile image

      AgathoDaimon911991 

      10 years ago

      gothic is somewhat negative too… usually tragic or dramatic, bun on emotions/feelings, it's not really positive, it’s not pop! wtf?

      If I were to match it with punk, I’d say the difference is:

      that punk affiliates with society and politics and the whole social system negatively…

      while

      goth is with the feelings, it's sentimental, could be about a couple or heartache, that is why punk is more hard rock and metal, but goth can become really instrumental, classy, even symphonic! Usually the singers know the notes, c’mon.

      like my nick says... I was born in 1991 (9th of January), I'm sorry if my english is bad, I'm not english nor american... and I listen more to gothic metal, like: Sirenia, Tristania, Nightwish(symphonic metal? c'mon, it's very alike with the 2 before and it's less metal than those and more on the feelings), Lake of Tears (the gothic part, not doom), Paradise Lost (actually sings more geres...), Crematory (told to be gothic-death metal), Lacrimosa (gothic rock, with violin), etc.

      I just told my point of view(which kind of connects... gothic is dark architecture and dark dramatic literature, right?), and I accept criticism(but I hope you won't just shoot).

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      11 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      I'll tell ya, we'll just have to agree to disagree, especially about the historical importance of Leif Erikson's landing here first (one of the many controversies surrounding Christopher Columbus) and about the origins of a musical genre I've listened to my entire life. It's obvious that you feel pretty strongly about the music from that time period, which is great! ;) Like I said, if you can provide concrete and solid info as to the opposing viewpoint or theory on the origin of gothic music other than the reports and accounts of musicians from that era (where some of my info comes from) then please share, I'd be ecstatic to read it. I love music and am always enthused about learning more.

    • profile image

      witchman 

      11 years ago

      thanks for your comment back gamegirl!! i understand what your trying to say about doing a butt load of research on this subject!! but i grew up in early 1970s and have been around music both punk and metal since then..i am also a musicain and have been playing for over 20 years with both genres..and have listened to both lyrics of both genres along the years!! im not trying to cause a battle or anything here lol what im realy trying to say is that punk pretty much came in the mid seventies,which was realy big!! and metal wasnt as big!! till it exploaded in the early 80s such as iron maiden,ozzy and ect. i think cridics pointed fingers at the punk genre as starting the so called EMO/GOTH founders!! when in fact a lot of bands got under looked!!! its like saying that (christopher columbus) discovered america...when in FACT it was realy the vikings who where the first ones here in america!! well i just gotta say i realy dont believe that goth was an off shoot to punk music!! (in my belief) i think the cridics should of done some more research at the time...in stead of picking punk music that was just a big movement at that time and saying,oh yeah it was punk that started it!! and yeas ive read your hub and have read endless pages on the subject..and i still beg to differ!! like i said i dont wanna start some kind of battle with this subject...its my own belief.....thanks,doug

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      11 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Doug,

      As someone who has been listening to the kinds of music mentioned in this hub since elementary school, and having done a buttload of research before writing this hub, I would be happy to see some concrete evidence to the contrary of what I've written here.

      As my hub states, gothic music is an offshoot of Punk. Influenced by the hard pressing emotional state of punk music, not the other way around. I am in no way getting the more recent "emo" movement mixed up with anything. If you analyze the lyrics to gothic music and the lyrics and ambiance of punk music, you will find correlations between the two. The gothic music movement began with bands such as the ones listed above.

      Thank you for commenting, and I hope you go back and read again what I stated in the hub. Unfortunately, most people seem to get the concept of "goth" locked down with "medieval, demons, vampires, witches" and lose sight of the musical heritage of the bands they listen to at "goth clubs."

    • profile image

      witchman 

      11 years ago

      First of all,i wouldnt say that goth originated or came from punk music at all!!! punk was more of an EMO thing back in 83-36. which punk music was changing as with the emotional side of lyrics and as well as the music!!! dont get EMO and GOTH mixed up!! yes you can say EMO for the more emotional state and then goth for the more darker look,but i think goth as its meaning,gloomy,or dark,mysterious thems...originated with metal music!! which came about in late 68-70 with black sabbath!! im not saying that sabbath was goth!! but they indeed had a darker and more gloom and mysterious side to them then PUNK music ever did!! but if you look back now days at punk music in 83-86 do you realy see any goth in punk music? i think punk was punk,that was changing into emo,with the changing of the lyrics and getting more EMotional of what they where trying to get out!!! and how things where changing as far as the punk scene was going...but i wouldnt say goth came from punk music just because they whore black(sometimes) or because they became angry!! i mean if you look at it sabbath was more medievil .....if you realy think about it.. with there beliefs in black magic and crosses and ect.. to me thats more GOTH than anything!! to me i dont believe the credicts and how they point there fingers at such movements and say this is where it came from!! i mean do you look at punk music today and see any goth in it?? i know i dont!! although some of the more heavier music has goth writtin all over it big time...theres no saying,well maby or maby not!! i just gotta say i realy dont believe punk music had anything to do with the term goth/gothic

      ~doug~

    • profile image

      nytclubber 

      11 years ago

      great hub! i'm really into music and i'm quite interested in different genres. goth music is in my favorites list! there's those moods that only goth could understand.

    • profile image

      black feather 

      11 years ago

      The one thing that real goths have in common is that they are all old now.

    • profile image

      Lord of Erewhon 

      11 years ago

      :)

      Try use the (shitty) translation tool on the right side of my blog.

    • profile image

      Lord of Erewhon 

      11 years ago

      Nice post!

      Dark kiss.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      12 years ago from United States

      Gamer,

      This is a fascinating hub! I am more of a country/old rok n roll/pop type myself but my oldest daughter was born in 1979 and she was the goth fan! Still loves it today, too. You did an awsome job in presenting this hub and it is an excellent explaination of the gothic music world. Kudos!

      Bonnie

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      12 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Its done! :-)

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      12 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Oh bah!! I'm far from the coolest. Give 'em love and kisses for me! Good luck with your hubs, too. :)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      12 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      You are the coolest hubber! So glad to know you! Gotta go put the little ones to bed now. Kleenex rules.

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      12 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Steph, quite simply you rock. *big hugs* If it helps any, I feel like I was born in '62.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      12 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Oh no! Born in 82?! That's when I started dating my first boyfriend.. AHHHGGHH!! OK. I'm over that now. *sigh* No, not 40 yet, so I'm not old. LOL. Great Hub, as always. I love your writing style and learning more from you, Charlotte. *hugs* Steph

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      12 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Zsuzsy - Why thank you! I was born in '82, so I grew up deep in the midst of it. The trick to listening to good gothic music is to look beyond the dark themes to the more universal picture being drawn. You may be surprised at how beautiful and -alive- the majority of high quality gothic music is. :)

      Wendy - thank you sweetheart. This is one of my favorite topics.

    • Wendy08 profile image

      Wendy08 

      12 years ago

      WOW! great hub Charlote! =)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      12 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Oh Oh! I'm showing my age. I like very little of the goth music. Some of my daughters friends are into it quite deep...most of it seems too depressing for my liking...

      Great HUB Charlotte even though I'm not into it I think you've explained the "Gothic music movement" really well.

      regards Zsuzsy

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