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Why Music Repetition Works...

 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Having adhered to a "More Music More Often" programming policy my entire career, I was naturally attracted to a piece in the HuffPost titled "Why You Like Listening To The Same Song Over And Over Again" by Taylor Pittman. I should also add that I'm a firm believer in short playlists having practiced that theory at every music station I ever programmed. To top it off, I worked at two major market RKO General stations consulted by the most renowned of all believers in playing nothing but hits, Bill Drake.  Now to the story...

In the post, music experts broke down the many ways certain songs affect us - and gave these explanations for why we keep playing them again and again. Kenneth Aigen, director of the music therapy program at NYU: "It's part of our identity construction. Some people say you are what you eat. In a lot of ways, you are what you play or you are what you listen to." Aigen's theory is that a song's lyrics, beats and other characteristics can embody different feelings and attitudes that enhance our sense of identity. "Each time we re-experience our favorite music, we're sort of reinforcing our sense of who we are, where we belong, what we value."

Another voice heard from was Pablo Ortiz, professor of music composition at the University of California, Davis, who believes that certain songs can connect us to a time in our past because they carry a certain sentiment. "Whenever you listen to a song that you liked when you were 15, for instance the feeling of that period in your life comes back intact. The sound is abstract enough to go directly to the part of your brain that governs the feeling."

Laura Taylor, a composer, who worked on radio commercials as well as music for slot machines and video games, offered insight into how some songs are intentionally designed to make you play them more and more. "From a technical standpoint as an engineer and as someone who's done recording, one of the tricks that we might use is during the verses of the song, we keep the instrumentations kind of sparse, and in respect to the stereo field, we keep it a little more narrow. When we get to the chorus, the sing-along part, there's more instrumentation. There's a wall of guitars or a wall of keyboards and we really fill that out. We also might make it just a little bit louder in the chorus."

Can the time of the season actually affect your listening habits? Yes, says Aigen. "Summer has a mythic association for all of us. Our routines change, we become outdoorsy. It's almost like we return to nature and outdoors and social things. We're not sitting at home cocooning alone." Aigen also believes some songs are simply timeless. Every year he's surprised that his students, who are typically in their 20s and 30s, know so many songs from the 60s. "There was something very special about that time period that enabled the creation of an art form that will endure for a long, long time. Sometimes the songs are just so catchy, and that's the reason they create this sense of familiarity and comfort, and you just return to it again and again."

Pablo Ortiz sums it up perfectly: "People love to listen to songs repeatedly because that helps them recover a certain feeling. It could be sadness, melancholy or happiness. We are constantly trying to go back to some kind of lost paradise. Songs always help."

I(n)M(y)O(pinion):

  • The above opinions are the reason nostalgia and music will always be connected...
  • Will the UPS drones delivering my packages wear shorts in the summer too???
  • DO invite Disney & Target to the same party...
  • R.I.P. drummer Ginger Baker whose legend can't be diminished even by death...
  • I'm with Mike Lupica when I say, make me see "The Joker"...
  • America should be proud of Simone Biles for making history as the greatest female gymnast...
  • If you live in California you better have a battery operated lantern...
  • Whoever wins the NYY-Houston AL Series wins the World Series...
  • Don't invite the NBA and China to the same party...
  • If there's a better male lead than Brian Cox ("Succession" & "The Great Society") I can't imagine who it would be...

 

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