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Paul Royce

Musically speaking, Paul Royse, a senior in music theory and piano performance, is going where no one has gone before.

Royse, of Knoxville, got interested in research during a music theory class analyzing rock music. His focus: grindcore, a genre of music fusing aspects of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s but has been virtually absent in music research literature.

Royse is among more than 1,400 UT undergraduates participating in research or creative activities that help them apply what they’re learning in the classroom and prepare them for graduate school or launching a career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT more than doubled the number of undergraduates involved in research or creative achievement and saw an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as mentors.

Royse, who is also an accomplished composer, learned about grindcore two years ago from a friend who is a singer in a local Knoxville grindcore band, Rat Punch.

“I fell in love with its unmatched abrasion, energy, over-the-top absurdity, philosophy, and experimentation,” said Royse. “I chose grindcore for my research because of my love of it, more than any type of punk or metal.”

Royse’s first paper is “Nose to the Grind: An Introduction to Structural Paradigms in Grindcore and Its Closely Related Genres.” He presented his research earlier this year to a packed session of academic faculty and students at a College Music Society regional conference.

“There is plenty of excellent theoretical literature on styles such as pop, rock, metal, and punk, but grindcore is relatively untouched in current scholarship,” said Royse’s mentor, Brendan McConville, associate professor of music.

Royse will graduate next month and plans to begin graduate school in music theory this fall at the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music.