• Carmen Marie Fabio

The sound of music

Shutterstock photo Copyright Katja Gerasimova

This month is 'Nothing but Black Metal November.' It's an online movement where those with a proclivity for such things listen only to music of this delightful genre for the full 30 days.

How do I know this?

Because when I came home from work one night this week, my son was loading up the dishwasher to the blaring 'tune' of Agonizing the Dead by Sadistik Exekution, my optimism at his musical maturation process thwarted.

While I was pleased he was never a loud child, and patient when he began musical experimentation, I gritted my teeth through the initial metal phase and welcomed his latest forays into more mellow, experimental chapter that included the folkie sounds of The Mountain Goats, indie rock punk White Lung, and the very listenable The Shins. My baby was growing up!

Until he took this November challenge literally and very seriously.

While the whole family has varied musical tastes, we'll often share band discoveries with each other and domestic chores are made more entertaining if we all take a turn at YouTube while tackling our respective choices.

Through my younger two, I've been introduced to everything from really catchy songs used in video games including reggae and funk, to chaotic jazz standards from Charlie Mingus and experimental Miles Davis, really interesting stuff.

Then my oldest introduced the goats…. Goat Whore, Goat Moon, Arch Goat, Weregoat, and two more that the publisher redacted.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked my son.

“Hey,” he retorted, “you almost killed me once with Chicago.”

He was apparently nursing a grudge.

I have vivid memories of my mother being mortified by my brothers' choices of artists that are pedestrian by today's standards. Alice Cooper lost his cred when he did a Staples back to school TV commercial.

Not wanting to perpetuate stereotypes of the generation gap, and especially not wanting to sound like my mother, I had made an honest effort to understand the subtle nuanced differences between Black, Death, Stoner, Sludge, Grindcore, Power, Thrash, Speed, and Drone. That's just the metal category.

Then there's Shoegaze, Noise, Minimalism, Ambient, and Mathcore. “It's really defined by riffs that are all over the place,” my son explained.

Although he usually has earbuds in when he comes with me to walk the dogs, he patiently takes the time to spell out the differences between the noise that spills over into the serene outings with our canines.

“As for genres within the genres, this is Black Thrash if you want to get nit-picky about it,” he earnestly told me.

Years ago, I mentioned to my husband that I'd always wanted to learn to play the banjo. Apparently it stuck with him because one year, an oblong box from Knoxville, Tennessee showed up under the Christmas tree. Though I duly practiced at the beginning, kids, pets, and life got in the way and the beloved banjo sat neglected in my closet – until my son discovered Taake, a Norwegian band whose name is an old spelling of the word 'tåke,' meaning 'fog.'

Their song 'Myr' (Swamp) includes a wicked banjo solo enticing my son to attempt to emulate his heroes in five strings and hours of practice.

I don't really know where I'll ever use my newly acquired musical education but in the end, it's not the content that matters. It's the sharing, the laughter, the mutual discoveries and the unabridged and brutally honest opinions on each other’s' lyrical and symphonic tastes that make the music sound all that much better.

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