The Pop Ups on Kid Tune Tuesday…

The Pop Ups

When I was a dance major in college, one of the faculty members, Llory Wilson, choreographed a piece entitled Titanic.  Yes, it was based on the tragic ocean liner accident.  We flung ourselves around stage, clutched on to little white pillows and swayed back and forth.  Without any actual water.  Or boat.  But just shy of getting seasick.

It was a fun piece to perform.  While the movement was complex and sophisticated, fast paced and athletic, the thing that made me the most excited to dance this piece was that it was set to music by Phillips Glass.  The music had such irregular downbeats and alternated unconventional time measures so quickly that it had us counting measures on our fingers in the wings and waving to our counterparts on the other side of the stage so we knew when to enter.

Drop focus for one second and you’re lost.  Nothing begs being present more than that.

As a dancer, I love this type of challenge.  And I love songs that push the listener’s ear a bit.  This weeks’ song by Grammy-nominated band  The Pop Ups delivers that challenge in the latest song that we can’t get enough of:  “Math Rock”.

It appeals to my nerd side.  The side that loves figuring out the downbeat to a complicated piece of music.  The side that wishes I’d learned to play the drums rather than the flute in middle school.  The side that gets irritated beyond belief when struggling to find music for dance class that goes beyond common time and coming up empty.

The Pop Ups’ “Math Rock” echos the uneven or asymmetrical time signatures you’ll find in avant-guard music from composers like Steve Reich.  That means that the predictable even beat you’re used to will be shaken up with this song that’s counted in sevens.  And just when you think you’ve figured out where the downbeat is, The Pop Ups change it up on you with a building meter in call-and-response fashion.

It’s one of those bonus teaching moments as well, because though your younger child will enjoy the counting aspect of the song, your older child might dig learning and recognizing the shifting meter and mixed time signatures.  How does the energy of a song change when it moves from a waltz (in 3/4 time) to something more complex like a 7/8?  And what does your child like best?

But when it comes down to it, “Math Rock” is just a fun song.  If you haven’t checked out The Pop Ups, you need to do so.  Right.  Now.  They’re a blast of a band.  “Math Rock,” with it’s catchy hook, is an up-tempo and energetic song that includes simple lyrics, but with such a complicated musical structure happening in the background, it’s a nice compliment.

So go ahead and give it a listen.  Don’t worry if you can’t find where you need to tap your foot.  It will find it’s place eventually.

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