Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Novelty and Repetition

On a conceptual level, these are the fundamental building blocks of music composition. As humans we like to hear a theme, usually a melody (but it could also be a chord progression or rhythm) repeated enough to be pleasurable but not so much as to become irritating. It feels good so we want to hear it over and over.

This repitition must then be broken by something novel and unexpected – and it is this juxtaposition of the familiar and the unexpected that keeps us listening. These concepts hold true regardless of genre – classical, pop, jazz – all rely on this basic idea.

But for the sake of simplicity, pop music (jazz and classical are a bit more complicated) is filled with examples. Pretty much every successful pop tune has examples of this phenomenon, some more obvious than others. These concepts have been developed into a science with contemporary pop/rap.

Today, however, repetitive themes tend to be much simpler and novelty is introduced more from sound design than actual music – actually, sophisticated digital processing often provides both the themes and the novelty. I really don’t think this is a question of better or worse rather, however it bears the question:

Imagine what cool shit you could make by combining both ideas.