Up to 11: a full harmonic-melodic analysis of Nigel Tufnel’s genre-bending Trademark Solo in Spinal Tap

Spinal Tap at the Metro on July 10, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

More than 35 years on from their rapid rise to stardom, Spinal Tap continue to provoke a diverse range of musical, cultural, and philosophical reactions.

Critics and scholars disagree about the true nature of the group’s creative accomplishments - while some hail the bold, genre-defying sonic directness of England’s loudest band, these voices, perhaps ironically, are often drowned out by a shrill, high-minded chorus who unthinkingly dismiss Tap’s work as immature or treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.

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George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer, specializing in jazz, rhythm, Indian classical, and global improvised music.