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Old 01-12-2015, 02:47 AM   #18
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Re: What is repetitive in a good way?

I think the key to interesting repetitive music is attention. What you're making the listener focus on.

Talking dance music here - e.g. techno / house etc. But may translate well to other styles?

If you have forever changing percussive parts (e.g. even a shaker part that never loops; but instead always tries something different) then it will grab your attention and you'll listen to it - and it'll probably be distracting, and possibly really shit house...

A ridiculous unvaried shaker may also sound too static; but the repetition is probably more likely to draw someone into the groove, and it's more likely to be taken for granted and placed back in the listeners mind and then into the "trance" of repetitive tunes.

Somewhere between never varying and always varying is a good place for most "repeating parts" imo. e.g. a bar or two. Small variations at key points to define the "greater loop" e.g. a little change at 8 bars; or 16 or 32... but then back into the repetitive trance.

So: Distract the listener from getting annoyed - how?

New sounds - a new ride cymbal layered on the hh; a new synth "donk".. etc.

Or maybe it's the background effects and swirls. Or anything really. But something needs to draw attention away from the monotonous side of things...

The point is: in highly repetitive music (e.g. "good techno"), you can be smashing away on the groove - the really repetitive stuff - but listening to that slowly evolving repetitive synth sound - even as simple as slowly raising the cutoff and increasing delays and reverbs on a single sound can draw attention to it; and it becomes the point of focus.

Similar approach to many type of sounds - drums / musical - will do the trick. Slowly increased a decay envelope on a ride cymbal; or dec/rel on a tight clicky synth sound turning it into a ringing sustained sound over many bars... Too many things changing at once and you can loose that repetitive trance effect though.


I don't always write heavily repetitive tunes like this; but they can be really captivating. I'm actually working on one at the moment, and so this seems quite on topic

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