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Paolo Ribaldini

23.9.1986 Mantova, Italy

BA student 2013 - (pop/jazz music), Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
PhD student 2012 - (musicology), University of Helsinki
MA, 2011, music (violin), Mantova Conservatory
MA, 2010, philosophy, Verona University
BA, 2008, philosophy, Verona University

Main lecturer and coordinator, “Heavy Metal music in contemporary history and society” –course, Helsinki Summer School 2015

Research interests: Heavy metal, popular music, music philosophy, music history, music analysis


Black Sabbath and the creation of musical meaning in the Devil’s topos. Proceedings of the international Conference for Music Semiotics, University of Edinburgh, October 2012.
A conference report from the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group 3rd Annual Conference, King’s College (London). Musiikin suunta, 4, 2013.
Classic Heavy Metal and World War I. New Sound, May 2015, ed. prof. Dario Martinelli. University of Belgrade
Heavy Metal vocals. A terminology compendium. Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures, ed. Toni-Matti Karjalainen & Kimi Kärki. 2015.

CIMO Finnish Scholarship Government Pool –grant 2013

Photo: Rita Miklán
Written by Paolo Ribaldini (Tiia Niemelä, ed.)

Heavy metal is a serious business. But not too serious.

At first, I wanted to elaborate a ‘philosophy of heavy metal’, an endeavor no less than ambitious. Just like with most of the mentally healthy researches, the original plan has changed several times, and nowadays I focus on something more practical, realistic in its fulfilment and academically relevant: vocals in the traditional heavy era. It’s amazing how little this topic is addressed in the studies on heavy music, mostly because none or very few scholars have the necessary background to be capable of dealing with it. I’m deeply grateful to my pop/jazz singing studies at Metropolia, thanks to which I can approach vocals from a technical point of view in addition to the social and historical perspectives.

In the front of Porthania a few days before the beginning of the course at Helsinki Summer School. Photo © Laura Mendelin


I’m not very interested in the history of bands and anecdotes anymore, at least not in an academic way. I prefer relying more on listening the music and understanding how it works from the inside. Musicians, crew members, journalists and so on might not always tell the truth, especially when they are asked to recall facts from three or four decades earlier. At that time, many of them were probably often high on drugs or wasted on alcohol, thus I wouldn’t lightheartedly take their stories as truthful. Even more in case of big legal controversies. On the contrary, music rarely lies if we can use our ears properly and dare trusting them!

The number of scholars focusing on heavy music is increasing year by year. As it always happens when an academic is very young, there are noticeable problems with credibility, seriousness and rigorousness in most of the nowadays existing researches; nevertheless, I’m rather confident that such problems will be erased within the next couple of decades.

Paolo Ribaldini in Esplanadi Park. Photo © Rita Miklàn 2015


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