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.