I love music, and love how it motivates me and inspires me as I ride. And I will be the first to say that when I do find a song that matches my preferred cadence for that terrain, then I am energized, as it can certainly help me to drive my pedals, especially for a powerful climb to the summit.
But there is so much more to music than just the driving down-beat, which is what defines the beats per minute or bpm. To me, the perfect song for IDC classes can be used for a wide variety of terrain, at various cadences, and isn't limited to just one application. If I limited my music choices to only songs with a certain bpm, then I'd probably have to reduce my itunes IDC library to only 50 or 60% of what I have, especially my choices for climbing. Now that would be a bummer, because I have some great music!
As Robert so perfectly explained in his comment on the last post, a distinction must be made between the rhythm of the song and the bpm. He mentions that when dancing, most people will fall into the rhythm of the music. I agree. There is a difference between a musician's technical understanding of a "beat" and that of a dancer's emotional and instinctive perception of that beat. This is what I tend to follow the most when riding in a Spinning class.
When you listen deeper into the music, you find the rhythm of a song, and based on this rhythm, you can find a complementary cadence. It's the mood of the song that then guides you down a faster flat road, up a hill, or at the beginning of class for the warm-up. In this way, some songs can be used for a wide variety of terrain.
Let's take a few songs as examples.
The song Drippy, by Banco de Gaia is an all-time Spinning classic. Even after all these years, I still love it. I may not use it for a year, then I'll rediscover it like it's a brand new find!
It has a bpm of about 128 bpm, or 64 on the half beat (FYI, I'm not very techincal at my bpm determination - I just use a stopwatch for 30 seconds and count, so they may be off by a beat or two). 64 bpm/rpm is perfect for a climb, and when I use it as a climb, I probably fall right in line with the bpm in my cadence, and enjoy it while I'm there. However, I love to use this song on a flat road, in an endurance ride, or as my first song. Cadence would be 80-90-ish. You can only do that by listening deeper than the beat of the percussion and into the other instruments and let them guide you.
Another example by Banco de Gaia is the song Last Train to Lhasa, without a doubt one of my all-time favorites. I use it at every conference for pedal stroke drills (when I do the drill called the "Locomotive" with the sound of the train in the background). The beat is about 112 bpm, too fast even for a flat road, or 56 bpm on the half beat, which is too slow even for a climb. You'd have to erase this song from your repertoire if you only ever follow the bpm. But if you allow yourself to settle into the rhythm of this song, you'll soon find yourself on a long straight, flat road that is total "zen" for over 11 minutes of joy!
Another example is the song Sanctuary by Origene. Not only do I love the lyrics, but the beat and rhythm of this song get inside of me and helps turn my pedals. But at about 132 bpm, or 66 bpm on the half beat, one might think it could only be a climb. Yes, I've used it clibing, and it helps me up those hills because it does feel good to latch onto that beat. But when you separate yourself from the beat and fall into your preferred flat road cadence above 80 rpm, this becomes another introspective seated flat. (BTW, this was the song I sent to someone in the Netherlands who said no one would use it there, as it was "too slow" of a beat. IMO, that's sad, because of what you miss out on!)
How about Dance of the Witches Fire, by Spirit Zone? It's a very high energy song, but still, "only" 144 bpm, which makes for a 72 bpm hill. I always seem to find myself zipping down a fast flat road with this song, pedaling much faster than 72 rpm.
The fastest one I could find (in my brief search for this post) is Conga Fury by Juno Reactor. Great Race Day song. It's 164bpm, but I know I ride it in tempo rides or Race Day at a cadence faster than 82 rpm.
One more, a powerful hard climb if you chose to use it as such, because it's again 65-67 bpm (half-beat) is Zion by Fluke. But I usually use that for a seated flat tempo pace, or in a Race Day time trial.
I love how this type of riding allows students to determine their own preferred cadence, what is comfortable for them, but still within the guidelines of that terrain (e.g. 80-110 rpm for a flat, 60-80 rpm for a climb). It's about being intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically motivated.
I think this discussion has brought me to my own revelation about what I am attracted to in music. As I go through my music to find you examples, it could very well be that I don't have anything (that I can find) that has a bpm of 180-ish, which I could use on a flat at 90rpm, much less a songs with 200-220bpm for cadence drill of 100-110 rpm. Maybe, without knowing it, I never felt an attraction to a beat that fast. Or maybe, you guys can turn me on to some!
Love your comments, keep em coming!
NOTE: you can get some of the above mentioned songs as free downloads on eMusic by clicking on the icon on the left of my blog and signing up for a free trial. No obligation. If I were you, I'd get as many Banco de Gaia songs (or email me and I'll give you a list of the best IDC ones). And make sure to download all 3 versions of Sanctuary on the ep. My favorite is the Harry Lemon Mix, but I like 'em all... Unfortunately Spirit Zone isn't on eMusic, but my version comes from a compilation called Global Psychadelic Trance Vol 4 (sorry, it may be hard to find - try a search for Spirit Zone for their own albums). Zion is from the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, and Swamp Thing is from the Bible of Dreams cd, both of which are not on eMusic (though they have other stuff by Fluke and Juno Reactor).