History of gothic music

Gothic (or "goth") music began in the post-punk era of the late 1970's. Gothic rock generally contains lyrics with dark or morbid themes and has a generally dark atmosphere, which is reflected in the instrumentation and vocal styling of the performances. Frequently keyboards feature as a main element of instrumentation along with guitar and bass guitar, and by replacing drummers and their backbeats, drum machines set a sombre tone to the music.

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The "godfathers" of goth music are usually said to be Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and UK Decay. They set themselves apart from the punk scene by subduing the loud guitars that were typical of punk music. Instead, guitars were usually sombre, and truly in the background of haunted-sounding vocals, often pitched unusually low. Synthesizers and drum machines further distinguished the sound from both punk and post-punk.

Bauhaus' first single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," is widely considered to be the first gothic song, which was released in 1979. In the early 1980's, the goth music scene began to gain in popularity and recognition. Many bands that had been around for years shifted their sound to reflect the goth aesthetic. One well-known example is the Cure, who moved away from their experimental roots to a more serious and gloomy attitude. Similarly, Siouxsie and the Banshees moved away from the post-punk scene with their 1981 release "Juju."

In July, 1982, London club the Batcave opened, and soon became a hub for those interested in gothic music. The Batcave offered an opportunity to participate for those interested in not only the music, but the culture as well. By 1984, several music magazines wrote articles referring to the scene with the label "goth." Culturally, the "goth look" that many bands sported became more recognizable, with both men and women sporting black clothes and hair, and lots of dark eye makeup.

Around the same time, the gothic music scene was getting louder, and many bands were moving towards a more gothic-rock sound, rather than the keyboard-heavy early days. Like most music genres, gothic music became fragmented as it became increasingly popular. In the late 80s and early 90s, some gothic artists began to experiment with electronic sounds in addition to their traditional lineup of guitar and bass, drums or drum machine and vocals. Because of this, there is a good deal of overlap with the Industrial music scene, and the subgenre of Goth-Industrial became increasingly popular around the world.

Today, there is less of a clear-cut gothic music scene, although the influence of goth lives on. Many clubs around the world have goth-industrial nights, playing music by current artists as well as music from the origins of goth. The goth music scene still thrives in Western Europe, especially in Germany and Scandinavia, where annual music festivals bring tens of thousands of gothic music fans to enjoy.