Why We Love Repetition in Music

At last! A more in-depth explanation as to why I seem to fixate on particular songs, playing them over and over (and over) again. Why We Love Repetition in Music is a fascinating examination of what repetition does to our brains.

In fact the argument can be made that through repetition, mere spoke words can become interpreted as music by the listener.

Repetition can actually shift your perceptual circuitry such that the segment of sound is heard as music: not thought about as similar to music, or contemplated in reference to music, but actually experienced as if the words were being sung.

As a neat example, have a listen to the following two audio clips:

Isn’t that crazy? On hearing this, I was reminded of the McGurk Effect.

I find it interesting that I mostly fixate on songs when I’m working at the computer. This tends to happen to me more when I’m on the computer at home. I tend to have very strong associations, tying certain songs to certain projects.

There’s a blurring of the lines between repetition and ritual. And the article also talks a bit about how repetition allows us (as listeners) to participate in the song as well:

Repetitiveness actually gives rise to the kind of listening that we think of as musical. It carves out a familiar, rewarding path in our minds, allowing us at once to anticipate and participate in each phrase as we listen.

There are a lot of quotable sections, and it’s a really fascinating article worth a read.

[CC photo via Luc De Leeuw, via Scotty Weeks]

Christina Perri: A Thousand Years
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Copeland: Ordinary

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