Sometimes, the word ‘repetitive’ is used dismissively of a track, an album or even a whole body of work, or genre. As if it’s a bad thing. Somehow suggesting a lack of ideas, or creativity. I remember ‘The Adults’ telling the teenage me how ‘repetitive’ all my records were, although the fact they were saying essentially the same thing to me, over and over again, didn’t strike them as odd at the time.
I’ve never considered repetition – or more accurately, I suppose, ‘repetitiveness’ – as a negative trait in itself. I believe that even those of us immersed in free jazz, or avant-garde atonal classical music, will always, at times, appreciate and respond to a hook, riff or motif. But recently, after listening really closely to some of my favourite musicians, (who write songs or compositions and develop them to play live, solo, using looping technology), it struck me that repetition as a technique (rather than simply a by-product), can so often be a springboard for musical problem-solving, moments of pure joy and tricks on the ear.