I don’t usually post TED Talks, but I’ll make an exception for this talk on repetition and music by Colin Morris who is a data scientist and educator based in Toronto with a Master’s in Computational Linguistics.
I love how he uses quite disparate techniques to prove that yes, pop music is getting simpler and more repetitive, but also makes the point that that isn’t the whole story. I’m reminded of the whole thing that complex is easy, it’s harder to simplify something. To make a song where it all rests on one word or line isn’t lazy,
It’s actually really difficult because that phrase or hook has to work in multiple ways for the song. It has to have enough interest for listeners to not get boring on repeat listens, maybe have multiple meanings and ambiguity, resonance with the experience of the listener and have an identity from which the artist and video can jump off. It’s a lot of work for a single phrase or word to do. I’m guessing all those writers aren’t ‘adding’ – a lot are taking away, editing, refining the pop song into a short shareable instant nugget.
Whether that’s better or worse is up to you, but it’s not a new thing, and for the record I LOVE Daft Punk’s Around the World and I’d not call it dumbly repetitive at all! (via DJ Tripp)