Underground (culture)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The underground ( English , literally underground ) is a term that in many branches of art describes that part of a scene that is not geared towards the masses, independently produced and often also represents a counterculture . The underground is not tied to a particular style from the outset, but it usually represents a minority culture in society. The opposite pole is the so-called mainstream , which is used to describe art that is generally established or produced for the “masses”.

The underground often plays the role of an avant-garde , its forms are later taken up in the mainstream, but also robbed of their subversive content and reduced to purely formal- aesthetic elements.

Representatives of the so-called underground often attack established or commercial art (performing arts, music, literature) publicly and deny it the artistic quality: it is shallow mass-produced goods that are only interested in commercial success and also mostly represent reactionary content. Especially in the rock and pop music scene, a real dispute between under- and overground has developed, in which underground has also become a marketing catchphrase, often without being associated with the relevant content (e.g. grunge, alternative).

There is also a clear separation between underground and mainstream in youth culture and clubs , with the people who create underground culture claiming to offer the more demanding (e.g. more experimental) events, exhibitions, concerts and the like that to do this, regardless of commercial success, would arise from idealism and creativity.

Many works of high culture today - measured by their sales figures - also represent a kind of underground.



Most of the time, underground music is related to political or social engagement . It is also considered a forerunner for punk and independent music.

Frank Zappa is one of the figureheads . Other well-known representatives are Henry Cow , Captain Beefheart or Crazy Backwards Alphabet and not least The Velvet Underground . The underground often includes representatives of the following styles of music:

Literature and comics

Visual arts


see main article: Underground film