Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program



David Madden

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The evolution of new musical genres is the result of a reaction to contemporary culture (Garofalo 1997). The evolution of punk rock and hardcore punk are no different. The evolution of hardcore punk was informed by the culture apparent in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s (Blush 2001). The popular musical acts, during this time, prescribed to a relatively homogeneous ethos, driven by monetary impulses. The mainstream music industry ignored many of the thriving subcultural music scenes, which would later be hailed as intrinsically important. This thesis will focus on the relatively short-lived, yet prolific, hardcore punk movement that developed in Washington DC and lasted from 1980 to 1985. The DC punk scene was unique. Whereas other local punk scenes were home to many different punk styles and concurrent punk subcultures, DC was more of a monoculture. This allowed for the development of a particular ethos – an ethos which, as I shall explain, was formulated in response to various local and national forces and was made possible by the scene’s centralized structure. The ethos that developed as the fundamental feature of the Washington DC hardcore scene is called “straight edge.” It requires participants to abstain from excessive behaviors such as the abuse of alcohol and drugs and promiscuous sexual behavior.

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