Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Repetition Repetition

When my daughter was younger, if I said or did anything cool or interesting she would yell, “Again again again!”  You had to be really careful what you said and did, as you’d better be prepared to repeat it 87 times in a row.  Now that my kids are teenagers, I’m no longer cool or interesting, so this is no longer a problem.

The Teletubbies tapped into this brilliantly in their TV show by showing their video pieces twice.  They’d play a video about something, and all the Teletubbies, just like my daughter, would scream “again!” and they’d play it again.  Of course, this meant you only had to make half a TV show (smart move,) but the kids loved it.  I’m guessing they couldn’t quite process the whole thing the first time around and wanted to see it again.

While repetition has its place in the musical pantheon, we try to avoid too much of it.  Psycho-acoustically speaking, if something repeats long enough without change, the brain tends to ignore it as silence.  Take, for instance, white noise.  Various machines are sold which produce white noise to help block out background noise and enable people to sleep in noisy environments.  This works because the brain treats the constant sound as if it were silence, and the white noise (being, in theory, a combination of all sonic frequencies in the way white light is a combination of all light frequencies) covers a wide variety of sounds.

The problem is, this works in music too.  Without some kind of changes in the music, the brain gets bored and tunes it out.  I suppose that in some applications, this might be desirable, but it doesn’t seem to be what most of our clients are looking for.

Many video editors like to cut their video to music, rather than adding music in after the video is done.  In order to do this, you’re going to want to have some music that shifts gears throughout, or your video is probably going to end up a bit flat.

Since we come from video backgrounds, it’s an issue we’re well aware of here, and one we try to avoid when producing our music tracks.  Also, I bore (sonically) very easily, which turns out to be an asset as a producer.

When my daughter was younger…wait, I already said that…


-Dave Hab

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