Wednesday, February 17, 2010

School of Rock

Each month we take a look at a specific type of music or musical movement and tell you what it's all about. This month's lecture is on "Math Rock."

Math Rock - adjective, origin - The American Midwest, circa - late 1980's

The term Math Rock was first coined in the late 1980's to describe a sound that was taking shape out of the post rock scene with some bands in the Midwest. The sound is a mix of odd time signatures (such as 7/8, 11/8/, 13/8 as opposed to the traditional 4/4) and start and stop rhythms. Math rock bands are generally led by guitars and drums plugging away at difficult rhythms that often change abruptly throughout the coarse of a song to different time signatures. The music usually focuses on the instrumentation while the vocals are moved to the background or used as another instrument. This brand of complex songwriting is why the sound has been dubbed Math Rock - though, like all labels, most groups reject actually calling themselves a Math Rock band.

The earliest influences of math rock can be traced to 1970's 'progressive' bands like Rush, Yes, Frank Zappa and even Pink Floyd. While the origins of Math Rock began in Chicago with bands like Breadwinner and Big Black the sound has spread to both coasts and became especially big in San Diego (Rocket from the Crypt, No Knife) and Washington, DC (Q and not U, Shudder to Think, Jawbox). Most recently the genre has been rekindled by neo math rockers Battles, whose album Atlas was chosen as the best record of 2007 by a slew of music critics.

Class dismissed.

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