Friday, November 12, 2010

Music to (Your) Ears

I have what can be best described as eclectic taste in music. My father is an operamane, so I grew up with all the great high operas blaring through the house at night on a regular basis. He also sang in the light opera company at Big Municipal U. during his three years there, so he was also a huge Gilbert and Sullivan freak, hence the topic of my undergraduate thesis at SFU on W.S. Gilbert and my general lack of shock when Topsy-Turvy came out, revealing that Sir Arthur Sullivan (composer of "Onward, Christian Soldiers", for which Queen Victoria knighted him) was morally bankrupt. The opera thing helped a lot during quick recall tournaments, most notably one of our television appearances when we happened to catch an opera-based speed round.

Our nanny/babysitter introduced me to funk, particularly Soul Train, which we watched religiously every Saturday along with American Bandstand, followed later that night by the cultural portion of the evening: Lawrence Welk. As I got older, the brother of one of my English teachers introduced me to Blondie and Pat Benatar. In high school, there were the New Wave bands, and finally, Goth music like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure. If you were to check my iPod playlists, you'd find a little of everything- including the Ohio State University marching band playing their arrangement of "Malaguena Salerosa", later co-opted, significantly improved, and made legendary by The Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps.

I can, will, and do listen to almost anything. There are even three or four country songs on Ye Olde MP3 player...but no house music. Nope, not a fan.

Hopkins and I have a lot in common, but musical taste is not one of those things, apart from a healthily geeky obsession with Weird Al. Some of the stuff he listens to is a little hard to take...there was the entire Pink Floyd era when I was seriously worried about him, and in retrospect, it probably bears some relationship to what I was told today. He's taken up what I consider a pretty disconcerting immersion in house music, particularly ambient trance. Why, God, WHY? Trance is something I outgrew as I moved out of a major depression in my early thirties, and now I can't stand it. Then this morning, during a casual conversation with a colleague, I found out why this aberration has occurred: gaming.

WELL, DUH. I am now officially, utterly out of gaming with a vengeance and I am feeling just mortally stupid. It's nothing to do with taste, it's everything to do with greater gaming acumen. The rhythm of trance is exceptionally well-suited (so I was told) to gaming, particularly multiple-user online games. Since this is where he feels most at home these days, it follows that he'd be looking for music that best enhances his gaming skills.

So, yeah, like looking for the perfect kick-a$$ exercise music or Music to Type By (my typing teacher favored John Philip Sousa and Russian marches), gamers are up to the same thing. Maybe he's not as far gone as I thought, although next time the iPod shuffles up "Learning to Fly", I'll have a slightly different take on it.

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