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The Popularity Of Repetitive Music Explained

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There might be a reason why everyday radio tunes tend to sound the same: most humans prefer repetition over variation in their music.

According to an online TED lesson expand=1] by Elizabeth Hellmuth Marguli, the director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, hearing the same loops and songs over and over again makes them feel more familiar.

Since we are always more attracted to what we know, repetitive music is more inclined to make our feet tap, what Margull calls the "mere exposure effect." In other words, hearing the same song several times will — more or less consciously — bring a listener to enjoy it.

The mere exposure effect is something the music industry has undoubetly understood and exploited, but it is not peculiar to Western commercialized music.

Repetitive loops are major aspects of musical cultures all over the world. They come naturally, the TED talk suggests, because hearing the same loops and riffs over and over allows us to concentrate on other instruments, sounds or aspects of composition.

It is also a good way of anticipating what is to come in a song, and that, as any morning commuter singing along to the car radio will confirm, is an undeniable asset.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why The Ukraine Arms Race Won't Stop

After Germany and the U.S. finally approved sending heavy combat tanks, Kyiv now eyes fighter jets. Who could ask them to do otherwise? And does the West really have a choice but ensure Russian defeat?

Picture of an American fighter jet about to be launched.

Nimitz, Philippine Sea : An E/A-18G Growler fighter aircraft from the Cougars of Electronic Attack Squadron 139, launched on December 31, 2022.

Mc2 Justin Mctaggart/ ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — There is a familiar ring as war tensions rise again, followed by the German and American decisions to finally deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine. Since the start of the Russian invasion 11 months ago, each escalation in the type of weapons provided to Kyiv has been preceded by the same reluctance and public contradictions — and ultimately a decision made under pressure.

And this certainly will not be the last time.

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This was what happened at the beginning of the conflict, when Central and Eastern European governments considered transferring Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine; then for long-range artillery and missile launchers — and later, Patriot anti-aircraft batteries.

Each time, a two-fold hesitation: the fear of provoking Moscow and being involved in a wider conflict, and logistical questions.

But at every stage, the argument of Russian reaction has been quickly brushed aside. Even when Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is not "bluffing," or when Dmitry Medvedev, the former president, claims that Patriot deliveries would turn Westerners into "legitimate targets." None of this has happened.

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