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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fresh Tunes: Search for Sound Frequency.

Heavy bass, drums, dramatic cascades of sound... I hear those sounds and can't be still. For many years, music with a thumping good beat was part of daily life. I taught fitness classes and almost every night created exercise programs incorporating salsa, kickboxing, hip hop, and strength training - ending with a cool-down of pilates and yoga. The best part was that most clients were seniors and it was a wonderful surprise to learn that they were open to most forms of music - not just music of their youth.

Try to visualize your grandparents step-aerobicizing to the Gorillaz 19-2000 (" the cool shoeshine"), bouncing a gigantic ball Harlem Globetrotter-style to Led Zeppelin bron-y-aur stomp (bouncing started at approximately 24 seconds), or low-impact kickboxing to Fatboy Slim's remix of Pierre Henry's Psyche Rock. A class favorite was kickboxing to Afrika Bambaataa's Mind Control (the Nebula Funk Danmass instrumental version). To Billy Idol's Dancing With Myself we shook our booty while working on kickboxing punches... and near the song's end counted how many times Billy shouted the word "sweat". 

It was a beautiful sight to see people more than two times my age dancing, exercising, smiling and acting like teenagers.

As long as the music had the appropriate beats per minute, the lyrics were not offensive - and there wasn't too much mosquito-like high-pitched electic guitar - the class was very open to my music selections.

Of course the music for yoga and pilates was more laidback. For yoga, music with a beat similar to that of a resting heart was appropriate for most classes. For Pilates, chill music with a vaguely Latin rhythm was a nice accompaniment to many of the movements.

What makes you dance? 

I'm looking for sound that one cannot listen to sitting still. 

Lately, surf music is something I cannot hear enough of. A lot of it is formulated like a wave - to wash over the listener. It finally became evident that one of my favorite old TV theme songs (from The Munsters) was based on a surf-band sound.

Here's a classical musical mystery:   Do you know of classical music that sounds like a charging brigade on horseback? (Not Rossini's William Tell Overture - which is certainly energetic, but there is a mystery song that produced the charging brigade image in my head - and I never heard the composer announced.)

Coincidentally, Beck's Guero (2005) is the only album I could repeatedly listen to in its entirety - no skipping tracks, no turning down the volume. A curious ear in search of fresh tunes finds a treasure trove of sound frequencies with Beck, who stitches it all together with a fascinating beat.

Music works best for me when it progresses in this manner: First there's a bit of ambient stillness, then a sound is introduced. A distinguishable beat, or variety of beats, interact with the first sound - which develops into a symphony of beautiful, invigorating noise... and then the music begins to peel away - like layers of an onion - until the song is reduced to the simple origin. 

These ears are adventurous listeners, give them almost any genre - but please don't let the sound be too "canned". If the sound is electronically generated, I still require variety - so the evidence of the human touch is detectable in the sound engineering.

Your suggestions will be appreciated.