Why we really really really like repetition in music

Why we really really really like repetition in music

It slays all day

In episode #5 of Vox Pop’s Earworm, producer Estelle Caswell, comes to appreciate the art of repetition with the help of Colin Morris and Elizabeth Margulis. Colin is a computer scientist who created two really amazing ways to visualize repetition in song lyrics and how they’ve increased over the last 50 or so years. Elizabeth Margulis has dedicated her career to music research and runs the music cognition lab at the University of Arkansas. Her book “On Repeat: How music plays the mind” delves deep into the science behind musical repetition and explores the many ways our brains react to it.

Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/estellecaswell/playlist/6HrwEf5pmD51Paqc829vp6

The Pudding interactive “Are Pop Songs Getting More Repetitive?”: https://pudding.cool/2017/05/song-repetition/

SongSim: https://colinmorris.github.io/SongSim/#/gallery

Elizabeth Margulis: http://www.elizabethmargulis.com/

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20 Responses

  1. tabeazoe says:

    my favorite series of vox! keep it coming!

  2. SlimThrull says:

    Lots of great prose features repetition. The Raven Springs to mind.

  3. theonlygoggin says:

    What’s that bass line in the background

  4. james checker says:

    my favorite earworm yet! great job Estelle, Mona and Juan!

  5. Oded Breiner says:

    From an evolutionary standpoint, I think we like repetition because it was used as a syncing and motivational mechanism for big crowds of people, chanting or using military drums, especially in wartime.

  6. Kallisti Babylon says:

    true. but there ist repetitive music that is also challenging – there’s certain complex electronically produced music that does that and also music with lyrics over a repetitive beat that do that. when i listen to a lot of pop i feel numb.

  7. tree bear says:

    I don’t get it…I am dumb

  8. Suggestions says:

    Today’s hip hop “artists” AKA lil douchebags are not just repetitive, but they pretty much just copy and paste until their “song” is about 3-5 minutes long

  9. soapalot says:

    I’ve never written a song in my life, but I feel like if I keep watching these vids I’ll have the tools to write a number one hit one day.

  10. Judah Bateman says:

    This made me think of The Black Tapes…

  11. vasquez. i. says:

    *i see a thumbnail of Michael Jackson*

    i quickly click on it

  12. Ain't no Slice says:

    yeah ok, songs need repetition, but thats basically all pop music is these days. Just admit that the majority of artists these days aren’t that musically knowledgable.

  13. james42519 says:

    why do these videos always have music i never heard of that they think is popular? where is vox that this is “popular”? also i would say just like fire by pink would be better for the last. that song seems like 3 songs in one or something.

  14. Michael Martens says:

    where can i get the software to picture my favorite songs??

  15. AnJell-O says:

    5:20 vox makes a video complaining about misleading graphs that dont start at zero; but makes one anyway. It may be just to fit it on the screen, but they couldve just made a zoom in transition.

  16. Em D says:

    Please do a video on progressive rock

  17. DerpNerd says:

    You can’t touch music, but music can touch you.

  18. Karne Asada says:

    Are we out of the woods, are we out of the wood, are we out of the woods, are we out of the woods, are we in the clear, are we in the clear, are we in the clear, are we in the clear

    Omg I hate that song

  19. Jade Montebon says:

    a topic people care less about but Daym! Great work, Vox! more of these, please. Now I am a proud member of the Notification Squad. 👏👌👍

  20. PrincessJpen says:

    This is one of my favorite Vox videos

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