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Old 06-13-2022, 03:48 PM
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Default Repetition and variety in a tune or song?

What's your acceptable ratio/balance range in a musical piece? Repetition can breed familiarity and attraction (propinquity romance ).
However for me when a listen for ten to fifteen seconds pretty much sums up all there is going to be is a repetition stretch.
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:01 PM
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It's also said that "familiarity breeds contempt." The songs I find contemptible are not due to too much repetition, but for me at least repetition can lead to boredom. I'm more easily bored by repetition in lyrics than chord progression or melodic structure.
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Old 06-13-2022, 09:22 PM
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In a vocal thing or piano, the melody should be strong with a good bridge/chorus that keeps me interested. A fingerstyle piece can have a strong melody or a good "hook" that is repeated with variation and keep me interested. I don't mind instrumentals that are "guitar centric" to quote a certain AGF member as long as the "hook" is strong and repeats enough to tie it all together.

I don't like instrumentals that seem to be endless and without a central melodic theme that repeats, even if the guitar does sound great.
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Old 06-14-2022, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
What's your acceptable ratio/balance range in a musical piece? Repetition can breed familiarity and attraction (propinquity romance ).
However for me when a listen for ten to fifteen seconds pretty much sums up all there is going to be is a repetition stretch.
Hi rick-slo

A friend always said one should never fire their cannons at the beginning of the 1812 Overture! Musical acrobats are often so anxious to show off their tricks/skills from the start of a piece, and that is akin to shooting one's self in the foot. Once the trapeze artist has done a quadruple flip and catch, the act is over. So they save it for the end.

Theme and variation is built on the premise of starting very simple and adding more each stanza or chorus. It also helps audiences stay engaged.

If I'm doing the arranging, I'm going to change/complicate (?) things in subsequent passages/passes/repetitions of things. Skilled vocalists do this, as do skilled instrumentalists.

A well-stocked tool-kit for arranging includes solo melody, duet, harmonies, octave changes, tempo changes, key changes (also called modulations), bridges and more variety to build the piece from beginning to conclusion.

Also, shortening the length of pieces from 5 minutes to 2.5-3 minutes is another device for holding attention. The Beatles knew this (though they seem to have forgotten it for Hey Jude).

By having short songs, they got more radio play in an era where the stations benefitted by short songs (more commercials).

Hope this adds to the discussion…




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Old 06-15-2022, 07:45 AM
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I like the idea of taking three good choruses with attractive hooks and put them together to make a song. That's about as good as it gets.
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Old 06-15-2022, 07:54 AM
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I like to play walk ups and walk downs wherever I can squeeze them in to the point of redundancy. It starts sounding like I'm a one trick pony. I have to remind myself sometimes that I don't have to try and walk into every chord change.
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Old 06-15-2022, 11:11 AM
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Ok, time for a knock-knock joke. Ready?

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Phillip Glass. Knock knock

Who's there!

Phillip Glass. Knock knock....

Repetition is a key musical tactic. Oddly, it can really highlight variation, even the slightest variation. The art and taste of this varies. Some people heard Glass' pieces as per this joke (and I laughed when I heard this joke) -- others hear the variations from the parts that don't and delighted in them.

A lot of pop music overdoes the repetition to my taste, but it seems to work for a lot of audiences there.

I just got done composing and realizing a short (1 1/2 minutes) piece based off two intervals sharing a root note between them. So super simple, but it caught my ear as I was composing it, and at that short length the change halfway through to the upper note really grabs more attention that it might otherwise have. Music, like any other artistic presentation is partly about controlling the audience's focus and attention.
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Old 06-22-2022, 06:59 AM
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In my idea of a perfect song....Verse-Chorus-Verse..etc., You can change some of the wording in each chorus but it must have the same feel.
Sometimes you will find a song that you like but after doing for a while you find it just lays there .. Neil Young comes to mind, Some of his songs for us avg. singers they just lay there..boring But he get's a way with it because of his hauntingly unique voice..
Chris Isaak does some odd stuff, Changes tempo/feel in the middle and then comes back to the original melody.. Try that with dancers
And yes I agree..some of the newer pop songs, seem to be in a timeless repeat... "Little Red Corvette"Prince....lots of Michael Jackson songs..
Seems like it's lazy song writing to me...
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Old 06-22-2022, 07:36 AM
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A good tune has the 'right' balance between repetition and surprise. Apostrophes around right because what is considered right can vary.

In Folk tunes a common format is a two part tune where each part repeats with a slight variation in the final bar. Within each single part you will also find repeats and variations.

In Classical music a short musical phrase which is repeated can be called a motif. Repeated repeats of a motif, one note higher or lower, is called sequencing. It was one of the many tools used by J S Bach to dazzling effect. I love it. It might leave you cold.
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Old 06-23-2022, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rllink View Post
I like to play walk ups and walk downs wherever I can squeeze them in to the point of redundancy. It starts sounding like I'm a one trick pony. I have to remind myself sometimes that I don't have to try and walk into every chord change.
That resonates with me. Silence (a few beats of rest) can be golden and engage the listener more effectively than finding a way to insert a note with every beat. Looking at myself here.
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Old 06-24-2022, 04:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
What's your acceptable ratio/balance range in a musical piece? Repetition can breed familiarity and attraction (propinquity romance ).
However for me when a listen for ten to fifteen seconds pretty much sums up all there is going to be is a repetition stretch.
It's a great question.

I think a primary consideration is whether this is a song or an instrumental piece. If there are lyrics, then a far greater degree of repetition will be acceptable, if not required.

However I don't know if there can be a hard and fast rule for purely instrumental pieces. In Irish traditional music, "tunes" are typically composed AABB, ABAB, ABBA or whatever, and repeated a number of times, often in a set of tunes played one after the other without pause.

When played in a typical open session there would traditional be very, very minimal variation between what is played the first turn around and what is played the second, perhaps just nuances in ornamentation. The melody needs to be consistent so people can keep track of where they are in the set. There is scope for rhythm instruments to use different voicings of course, but in many traditional sessions there are no rhythm instruments.

Of course, these were tunes which people often danced to originally, so again repetition and consistency was important. But nowadays when dancing is less common, the tradition of "just play it" allows people who have never played together to join in, which is an important part of session music.

When played more in a more performative setting like a gig/concert, or perhaps on an album track, a group might arrange the tunes in terms of when different instruments come in and out, which can be highly effective.

Where fingerstyle solo guitar is concerned, where the piece has a recognisable verse/chorus component I like an approach that establishes the melody first, then moves into variations of the base incorporating different voicings or different chords, go up/down an octave, ornamentation, flourishes and fills. I think to appreciate the complications we have to first be shown the base.

Of course some pieces flow through with no repetition of the melody. Here I think variation can still be achieved but we are dealing with, probably, a more complicated piece which will have inherent variation simply because it does not repeat.

Again, a good question and interesting discussion for which thanks.
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Old 07-03-2022, 08:43 AM
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Repetition of a cool phrase is an anchor in popular music. But mixing it up helps keep it fresh. By that I mean it has to be mixed into the body of song with some variety. A hint at first, maybe, Then a fresh return with a little change. And ultimately a strong finish with repeats. The key phrase should take on slightly different meaning every time around, until it emerges as the reason-to-be.
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