When I was a kid I would play with Music Construction Set on my Apple ][, "painting" lots of random notes into one or two bars and then putting repeat signs around then. What sounded totally random and annoying at first became kind of catchy once you listened to it eight times in a row.
The composer that I really admire for unabashedly using repetition before the Minimalists really took off with it is Olivier Messiaen (the Turangalîla Symphony has lots of great examples). Classical music is historically largely about continual transformation, and he was unafraid to just cut and paste big sections. It worked magnificently.
It's like the brain has a threshold; under the repetitive threshold is boring, but too far above it is also boring. We need this middle ground where breakdowns or middle-eights or whatever they're called have this magical property.
This supposedly explains the popularity of jazz. Which leaves me personally baffled, but there you have it. The sciences!
I think Glass does the repetitive/unexpected thing exceptionally well, though it's often subtle.
If you're already familiar with Glass (or if you like Beck) you might want to check out Beck's song from Rework, an album of remixed Glass: https://soundcloud.com/dunvagenmusic/nyc-73-78
It's repetitive, but has enough of the unexpected mixed in to make it a stimulating listen.
I'm not finding a Web reference. It was described in a book by David Toop
Swing is actually the simplest expression of a three-against-two polyrhythm. I don't know if this will format well on HN, but here's a try...
This is 12 subdivisions, divided into twos and threes. Where the twos and threes line up are interesting focal points. You can see them on the downbeat (start) and backbeat (middle). Now, let's try to express 3 against 2 in a lighter way...
| x--x-xx--x-x :||
This last one is really interesting. The capital X (backbeat) is played with an accent to show a triplet-cycle lineup, and the trailing x is an "anticipation beat" into the next downbeat. With just those two things, you can express polyrhythm.
But unlike this notation, a beat isn't a fixed point in time! Rather, it's a region of probability where a sound might occur. Sounds can start anywhere in their beat, and attack or decay slowly or quickly, and evolve over multiple beats. This matters for the timekeeping instruments. Bass instruments tend to attack slowly, and high-pitched percussion like cymbals and snare drums attack very quickly. This creates a tension between the bass sense of time and the treble sense of time, tension that can be exploited musically.
So the backbeat and trailing anticipation beats that help define the underlying polyrhythm? They can be played early, or late. This can make the music feel faster or slower than it actually is!
Compare reggae and ska. They use exactly the same rhythmic structures. But in reggae, the guitar "skank" and the snare drum arrive very late, dragging the beat. In ska, they arrive early, pushing the beat. So reggae sounds relaxed, and ska sounds excited. Same beat, different meaning, just by manipulating the polyrhythmic emphasis.
The emphasis can also be manipulated by making the polyrhythm more or less explicit. Blues often has a very hard triplet feel. A lot of rock is very square and barely swings at all.
The beauty is that this is incredibly simple and repetitive, but offers an infinite variety of emotional expressiveness. This is why the American beat has dominated popular music for century. (As an aside, this is why so much drum machine music sounds painfully stiff - it lacks the core tool of expression)
One of my favorite things to do on the bass is to play around with that "region of probability" - to jump the beat, or to wait until the last possible moment to resolve something before moving on with the riff. It's fun. It makes the music sound unpredictable-yet-familiar, alive, and exciting. When my drummer and I start playing around with this, really fun things start happening. I've never really known how to express it before, but this gives me a wonderful way to conceptualize it. Thank you!
Now, let's try to express 3 against 2 in a lighter way...
| x--x-xx--x-x :||
x-- x-x x-- x-x
x-- x-- X-- x-x
Imogen Heap is a fucking genius.
It's called off-beat, If you mean rhythmic elements like the second base in the arch-typical Drum And Base, the and in One-and-Two-and-...
Chopin's music does this really well. He's always changing the expected chord right at the last second to throw you off and then eventually comes back to it. There's a good TED talk about it.
The Guardian had an article a few days ago on an emerging emphasis of bridge rather than chorus, and the role of repetition, in recent blockbuster hits by Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalia, Nicki Minaj and others.
The article has a great quote from the founder of Motown:
"Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!” Berry Gordy once joked, understanding that this is what listeners truly gather around.
The bridge is where you find out who really knows the tunes.
For those interested, certain artists like Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and ISIS really take it to the next level with subtle changes in each refrain. As an added bonus, they are all fantastic for programming.
That's exactly how mysticism sees music. As a level above speech.
The curve never go up, but with some songs it have flattened and those are my favorites. But it has more to to with the feelings associated to those pieces then the music itself.
> The stutter edit is a musical production technique, most often known for its use in electronic music, in which fragments of audio are repeated in rhythmic intervals.
Electronic musician Brian Transeau (better known as 'BT') developed the "technique", coining the phrase, and later released it as a standalone plug-in.
Stutter edit is just a particular technique in working with samples, and not even that important in itself.
I'll agree that what the article is talking about and the stutter edit are very different things though.
check out the date on this announcement:
this program was "old" and wasn't the first. ableton added beat repeat in 2005, and there was vst's i can't remember the name of that did it before that.
you've hit a nerve anyway, BT is easily my least favourite electronic music artist ever and so I am probably not capable of reasonable debate hereafter. i think he's possibly the most overrated producer in the world.
earliest i can think of is the aphex remix of flow coma and i'm not even trying.
> Electronic musician Brian Transeau developed the "technique", coining the phrase, and later released it as a standalone plug-in. Until this point the majority of stutter edits were created through deliberate manual editing techniques rather than automated processes (such as the eponymous plug-in). The audio plugin is named "Stutter Edit" and was co-released by iZotope and Sonik Architects.
it's not like izotope release a plugin in 2002 which does the same thing, oh wait it is:
"developed the technique" is such a weaselly phrase. did he develop the technique, or did he further develop a technique that already existed. to my understanding neither is true. he's a crap musician to boot.
It's like saying: "Columbus didn't discover America because it already existed" or "Newton didn't discovered 'Law of inertia' because it already existed".
he could have used google, but keep believing!
It was invented by BT and patented: https://www.google.com/patents/US8145496