Poll: Do you like repetition in a composition?
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View poll results: Do you like repetition in a composition?
Yes
18 35%
Only if it's an interesting and exciting
28 55%
Not at all. Gotta keep it fresh.
4 8%
Other: Explain
1 2%
Voters: 51.
#1
When it comes to either listening to classical-based compositions, or writing your own, do you prefer a piece with a recognizable and recurring theme, or one that is everchanging in syncopation, phrasing, rhythm, feel etc and without a recognizable theme?

I think both are good ways of composing, and can be made effective on the part of the composer.

I am in the middle of a composition, and I have written enough to keep myself motivated. My problem has always been that I have been afraid and skeptical of repetition, so I try to stay as far away from it as possible, and I fear that I might overcomplicate it.

How do you guys try to avoid or try to make repetition tasteful when composing? I've noticed that classical music is full of it, and usually the pieces are even in a simple tonic-subdominant-dominant progression, and still manage to sound powerful and moving.

TL;DR What are your thoughts on repetition (Themes, etc), and whether bad or good, how do you make it sound tasteful if you have to do it?
#2
well the verse on Pork and Beans is not something to make me jump for joy...I'd dont do the same 5 notes for 2 minutes.
#3
I love motifs. They give you something to look back on. It's essential for writing a symphony. How the hell else you you have different movements? Or for writing a fugue. Wow, what would you do without one?


Listen to a good amount of classical music and you should get a good idea of how to use them. Even look at the chorus' of modern music.
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#4
Personally I think it takes a lot of skill to be able to pull off repetition and still seem original and interesting.


It seems like it's one of those things that when its done right it's amazing and when it's done wrong its really really bad.

Take the solo to Free Bird For example: an excellent use of repetition.

Most pop songs repeating the same hook over and over: annoying
#5
personally lately i've taken to introducing something and then altering it over a course of the song so that it turns into something else by the end of the song, which is very classical in nature. what really got me into doing that? listening to lots of tool, they have several songs where they introduce a motif and slowly change it over the course of the song so at the end you can tell its still the same song just..... different. 46 and 2 is a good example of how to do this
#6
(all posts above)

I see, I listen to a lot of classical music as it is, and it might be that I am much more self critical to my own compositions rather than that of Beethoven's. After all, when there's something I dislike in a classical composer's piece, I think "Who am I to question the great (insert composer)."

I agree, repetition, when handled tastefully sounds great. How does one go about doing that though? Would you just take the harmony involved in your theme and write something else over it, or write something in an "opposing harmony" to create a sort of call and response effect? What are your methods?

And yes, I've just listened to 46 and 2, I see what you mean. Also they have a little bridge section and it kinda goes back.
#7
A call and response thing is cool. Also in symphonies from the first movement to the 3rd the key is usually changed so the motif sounds a little different. In the final (usually 4th) it'll go back to how the 1st movement was kinda and then change up a little bit for the end of the piece.

You could really look at great pieces of music to see how they did it to come up with your own ideas. It helps out.
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”


-Max Planck

☮∞☯♥
#9
A good melody repeats. Too much and your melody will sound obnoxious (think those bad pop songs). Too little and your melody wont be catchy (can you remember every note of an yngwie malmsteen solo?).

I'll go into repetition in composition later in the night, and only if this thread is still alive. I have a page of notes about it.
#10
Repetition is the basis of everything in music, but i have to say that as far as i'm concerned "how much" is entirely up to the composer. Meshuggah's "Obsidian" is two riffs for approx 8 minutes, and it's fantastic. Ditto for minimalist composers However, sometimes the exact opposite is true.
#11
Quote by demonofthenight
A good melody repeats. Too much and your melody will sound obnoxious (think those bad pop songs). Too little and your melody wont be catchy (can you remember every note of an yngwie malmsteen solo?).

I'll go into repetition in composition later in the night, and only if this thread is still alive. I have a page of notes about it.


Yes.
#12
Quote by Jackolas
Yes.
You sir, are sick.

And I CBF turning my notes into something ledgable. Maybe tomorow?
#13
Quote by Freepower
Repetition is the basis of everything in music, but i have to say that as far as i'm concerned "how much" is entirely up to the composer. Meshuggah's "Obsidian" is two riffs for approx 8 minutes, and it's fantastic. Ditto for minimalist composers However, sometimes the exact opposite is true.

Yes, well said.
#14
I think one of the best things you can possibly do is use your main motif once, and progress the song on with the intent not to return to it. As time goes on the context and mood of the song can change and THEN you bring back the motif. I find that absolutely fantastic because while it does repeat the same thing, the context it is in is totally different. A fine example would be 'Mortal Share' by Insomnium. The main riff is played once at the beginning and is a very uplifting sort of melody, but they return to it at the very end and it becomes very melancholy, when the only difference is the fact that the end adds vocals and some orchestration.
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#15
The only thing I can think of is to write a motif and kinda "exapand on it", like if I have a bar with a harmony of Dm and Gm, I could add either A7 or Em and make the motif "go somewhere." So in a way it's a subconscious repetition, ala Themes and Variations.
#16
Quote by one vision
When it comes to either listening to classical-based compositions, or writing your own, do you prefer a piece with a recognizable and recurring theme, or one that is everchanging in syncopation, phrasing, rhythm, feel etc and without a recognizable theme?

I think both are good ways of composing, and can be made effective on the part of the composer.

I am in the middle of a composition, and I have written enough to keep myself motivated. My problem has always been that I have been afraid and skeptical of repetition, so I try to stay as far away from it as possible, and I fear that I might overcomplicate it.

How do you guys try to avoid or try to make repetition tasteful when composing? I've noticed that classical music is full of it, and usually the pieces are even in a simple tonic-subdominant-dominant progression, and still manage to sound powerful and moving.

TL;DR What are your thoughts on repetition (Themes, etc), and whether bad or good, how do you make it sound tasteful if you have to do it?


I prefer something that sounds good. It could be incredibly repetitive, or not.... whatever.

repetition isnt something to be afraid or skeptical of. its part of music.
shred is gaudy music
#17
I love Dream Theater's In The Presence Of Enemies, where John plays a motif on the first part, then, after about 10 minutes into the second part, it's brought back by Rudess.

I love motifs. I think it comes from playing Final Fantasy and listening to Nobou Uematsu's stuff where each character has a different theme, and theme's from games reoccur (such as the Chocobo music, which is the same basic motif played about a dozen different ways throughout the series).
Another bit of music that has a reoccurring melody is Metallica's Blackened, where Kirk plays the chorus vocal melody in the middle of the solo. That was a moment to rewind when I was 13.
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#18
Quote by J.A.M

Another bit of music that has a reoccurring melody is Metallica's Blackened, where Kirk plays the chorus vocal melody in the middle of the solo. .


as soon as i read this it played in my mind. great piece.
#19
Listen to The Rite of Spring. A perfect example of exploring motif.
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#20
The key to keeping repetition fresh and interesting is knowing how to develop your ideas effectively.
#21
Who here would consider a story that had no beginning, middle, or end? Music without form is similar to story without plot.

I think it important to keep in mind that composers like Beethoven and Wagner owe their popularity completely to their sense of development. I can tell you first hand that a performance of a beethoven sonata is intimate in ways that is unique from other composers, in that the experience is similar to that of completing a very good book.
#22
^That's true. The cadenzas make it worth listening to. It's amazing how the first and third movements of the Moonlight Sonata are extremely repetative in rhythm, yet so addictive and interesting.

But how would you develop a motif and expand it? How do you guys go about it? I notice that sometimes a motif is played a second time just with some notes an octave higher and lower, to add depth, and it feels like the music is going somewhere when it's really just the same notes in different octaves.
#23
There is a text, The Fundamentals of Musical Composition by Arnold Schoenberg, (I recommend it a lot here) that covers form and development in classical style amazingly well and goes over a myriad of different methods of development and what not. It is out of print but it isn't too hard to find a used copy on amazon.

If you haven't studied a piece like Camille Saint-Seans Op 40 Danse Macabre yet, I suggest you do so. The piece is only 2 themes developed and repeated for about 7 minutes and is just filled to the brim with developmental ideas. But simple things, like playing it in different octaves is common (or repeating a motif in another octave while introducting a new voice and motif to achieve counterpoint), as well as modulating it through a number of keys or applying rhythmic variations or syncopation are all excellent ways to get "more mileage" out of a motif.
#24
Quote by one vision
^That's true. The cadenzas make it worth listening to. It's amazing how the first and third movements of the Moonlight Sonata are extremely repetative in rhythm, yet so addictive and interesting.

But how would you develop a motif and expand it? How do you guys go about it? I notice that sometimes a motif is played a second time just with some notes an octave higher and lower, to add depth, and it feels like the music is going somewhere when it's really just the same notes in different octaves.


Changing the key, dynamics, phrasing, harmonic context, instrumentation, rhythm, tempo or any other component of the music. Use your imagination, there's endless possibilities.