Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things I've wanted to post about but have been too lazy to

It's not that I don't want to write, it's just that I never get around to it. I will make some comments about posts I recently wanted to make. What's funny is that while I am walking around at work I will compose nice posts in my mind, but by the time I get home the inspiration is gone. Well, here goes nothing . . .

(1) Working out to music
There was a recent NY Times article about working out to music. Apparently someone figured out that there is a correlation between tempo and workout performance. You know, I (and probably a lot of other people) had already figured that out on my own. In fact, I have been known to turn back from the gym if my mp3 player dies out on me. I can't work out at all without my music these days. Typically I would do cardio first and then some weight training. The type of music is not as important for my weight training. If I was very tired, I'd listen to something mellow. If I was still pumped from the cardio I'd keep it at a high energy level. However, my cardio performance was definitely dependent on the music. Luckily I grew up listening to merengue. While my music is frequently criticized for being monotonous this works very well for working out. The article mentioned that jazz (which tends to be idolized, but that's a whole other post) is actually quite bad for working out because of all the tempo changes. While the article failed to mention merengue or other world music as good choices, it did sort of allude to it. My favorite type of merengue to listen to for aesthetic purposes is that from the 80's. That's when the music was at its height. For example, my favorite artist is Ramon Orlando who is a Classically trained pianist and arranger/composer. His merengues are simply beautiful. He writes classical lines with harmonies that work well with the feeling of the song. His sense of orchestration is wonderful due to his Classical roots. He's sometimes been criticized for not being jazzy enough, like Juan Luis Guerra, but frankly I don't think that jazzy always works in merengue. It has to be subtle (NOT like JLG's very first production). While I love to listen to Ramon Orlando's stuff it's not what I typically work out to. In recent years a new type of merengue emerged that some folks refer to as "calle" merengue or "street". I may have written about it in the past and referred to it as a "minimalist" type of merengue because everything is pared down: the harmonies are super simple (in fact, some songs stay on the same chord), the wind mambos are also simplified (or sometimes played by synthesizers - oh the horror!), the lyrics are not inspiring, and the tempi are VERY fast. Many of these songs are almost too painful to listen to, but a few artists are not so bad. These decent artists are actually GREAT to work out to. Other merengue substyles that work really well are tipico (perico ripiao) or palo. While the article listed a tempo of about 130 as ideal here are some of the tunes I was working out to. Tempi are approximate cause my digital metronome needs a new battery.

Julian Oro Duro - "Pasa y sientate" Tempo 162 after a slow intro. This was my favorite for getting started on the jog.
Julian Oro Duro - "Cuando baje la marea" Tempo 172
Julian Oro Duro - "Chinito" (quite politically incorrect) Tempo 192!!
Kinito Mendez - "A palo limpio" This one would inspire me to break out into a full out run even if my heart was beating out of my chest! Tempo 170
Toño Rosario - "Kulikitakati" (the original one - ummm, I don't think it means anything really) Tempo 164
Amarfis - "La Tuerka" (this one is really interesting hahaha! They are playing in D minor and the guy comes in singing a melody in F major. Who knew there was bitonality in merengue music? So what if it was unintentional) Tempo 168
Banda Gorda - "La Cura" Tempo 164
Banda Gorda - "Dejalo Ahi" Tempo 168
El Prodigio - "Baila Mujer" Tempo 160
Jovanny Polanco - "Dile que vuelva" Tempo 170

130? Those guys have to be kidding me. That's hardly a warm-up song! My average is hovering around 170. Hmm, it would be interesting to try to figure out why I need my music to be 30% faster than the general population's. Am I that much more unmotivated? Or is it because I grew up listening to pop music that's generally fast so in order to really work out I need something SUPER fast? That sounds more likely.

Over the past year, thanks to this crazy music, I accomplished something I could never do before: jog for 1 mile w/o stopping. It would take something like 13 minutes but I was so proud of myself for doing it (I think I had the machine at 5.5). Yet I owe it all to a few crazy, fast tunes. Yay, my music is good for something!! Darn, I wish there were an easy way to share these.

I really wanted to make a nice, well-researched, thought out post and possibly even send a response to NY Times. But oh well, this is the best my pregnant scattered brain could muster up.

Oh and I know have lost my oomph to write about my recent medical issues, my latest lesson, and a show I would NEVER take my kid to. Maybe later this week.

2 comments:

Darlene said...

I could never work out without music. TV just does not cut it. I used to hate going to the gym at work where the guys always had some sports channel on the TV. In fact, the only exercise I've been doing lately is DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and I am hooked! I can only do about 40 mins before my legs get like lead and won't move anymore. It is a real workout; I'm a sweaty mess by the end. Would NOT recommend it while pregnant, but afterward you might want to consider it--- if you have a game console to play it on that is. I have known people who go out and buy a Playstation console just so they can play this game.

Hilda said...

OMG! I love DDR!! We actually have the setup at home, but it's not hooked up. Yeah, it's definitely not pregnancy safe hehehe. But maybe afterwards I should take it up again. Thanks for reminding me!