Medical Mysteries of Music

Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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There’s a Scientific Reason We Like Repetition Repetition Repetition in Music

Take a close listen to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” Here’s part of what you’ll hear:

Killing in the name of
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Huh!

Killing in the name of
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
But now you do what they told ya
Well now you do what they told ya

There’s more, but it’s more of the same over and over and over again, including 17 recitations of “F–k you! I won’t do what you tell me!”

When it’s laid out in text, it looks like of…weird. But when you’re listening to the song, it all sounds awesome. Obviously, there’s something at work here involving repetition and music. This podcast from Vox Pop’s Earworm explores why we seem to like the same thing over and over and over again.  Click on the graphic to listen.

 




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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