Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How My Children Interpret "Math Rock"

From my albeit limited understanding of what this blog is "supposed" to be about I feel it important to share as many aspects of this genre as possible. Our primary goal here is to showcase new and exciting talent. However it is always important to reflect on not only what this whole genre means to us ...but also to those who will come after us.

My kids are aware of math rock in passing. They've listened to it before, but ive never sat down and discussed exactly what it was they were listening to. At their ages ( 9, 7 and 5) ((my 2 year old was alseep)) I don't feel like genre classification should be something for them to think about just yet. For the most part I let them make their own choices on the music they listen to. We all have mp3 players in the house and as the soul parent responsible for the music adding and subtracting (my wonderful wife leaves these issues to me) I do slip in things that I am interested in that I feel they would also like/think would be cool.

In this instance I sat my three oldest down and had them listen in full to three selections in the genre of "math rock" giving them limited information as to what this means and asked for them to write small reviews of each.

Selection 1: Don Caballero - In the Absence of Strong Evidence to the Contrary, One May Step Out of the Way of the Charging Bull (from "What Burns Never Returns")

9 year old girl - "I like it because it is very well constructed in certain beats and certain levels. There are certain layers of the song too. I like the beats in the background as well."

5 year old boy - "I like it because it has a cool beat to it. I thought that it was cool because it sounded like video games and its old school. The song sounded like it was from 1992"

7 year old girl - "I love it because it gives me the feeling im in a video game store. I dont really like that it has no words. It has a nice beat to it and it sounds like im on a tropical island. I like the drummers beat because it was very steady."

-----There are certainly a couple interesting things here. First off I obviously picked Don Cab due to their "legendary status" in the genre (which they wouldn't have a single clue about) My son somehow had an idea that the song was older and he guessed it was from 1992. Oddly enough he was pretty close, 1998 to be exact.  All of the kids automatically took to Damon Che's titanic drums, commenting on his interesting yet steady beats. My kids do play some video games so the correlation between this and video game music was a good pick up.-------


Selection 2: Three Trapped Tigers - Six (From "EP2")

9 year old girl - "I dont like it because it sounds old and boring. The drumming is good but its just not me. It is constructed weirdly. It reminds me of old television episodes. I hate it"

5 year old boy - "I like it because it has a nice beat to it. It is cool and I want a drum set when i grow up. It makes me feel like im in Mexico."

7 year old girl - "I like it because it has words. I also like it because it has a nice and calm beat. It is unusual because it stops in the middle. It also makes me feel at home."

-----This was chosen by the kids when they watched me scrolling and read the name....its a great band name and even kids know that. Another drum heavy track which they obviously picked up on even when my 9 year old hated it. I did make her explain why to which she equated the song to "old tv episodes". Most of them caught right onto the changing pieced together nature of the song as well. -----


Selection 3: Mouse on the Keys - Spectres de Mouse (From "An Anxious Object") 

9 year old girl - "It is one of a kind. It is kind of jazzy. It has well set timing. it changes the beats"

5 year old boy - "Its like a keyboard I like it. its got a nice drum"

7 year old girl - "I like it because it is very cool. It has lots of unique qualities and is cool in the middle because it feels like your in a music class at my school"

---At this point the kids are getting a bit antsy, hence some shorter responses. This was also a collective yes by everyone. My 9 year old also hit the nail on the head with the jazz comment. I figured I would continue with the "animal themed" band names.---


The one collective comment that all of the kids talked about and settled on without my asking was that the best drums were hands down the first song (Don Cab) I find that pretty incredible considering the other three tracks also feature amazing drummers. They obviously dont have a wide reference for what constitutes "good" drumming or even varying levels of complexity but it seems that they may more than I had anticipated.

My 9 year old was not much of a fan of any of the songs but the younger two were excited to do more at another time. It should be said that primarily the kids enjoy top 40 pop hits. While my son does have a little bit broader of an interest in hip hop and a few other songs I have introduced him to such as Intronaut. If you think that maybe them hearing such music in the past has clouded their judgement / enjoyment you should see my youngest (who is two) dance like a complete maniac to "Town Portal".

Sometimes I feel like I review and listen to things in such a bubble of past experience which includes years of school and private lesson musical training. Many people feel that this is a genre for those that crave complexity or only for people who play music.  Technicality can cloud bands in this genre as I've seen but the "fun" and "emotion" in these songs both play a larger part in this. Through this hour and a half span I began to see that even at its core this is music that can be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone. That this absolutely should not be something to be left alone for us to hoard but to try and share at a broader level.

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