Music Theory
Acoustic Composition
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Why is repetition important in music?

Let’s do a thought experiment to answer this question. Close your eyes and try to imagine what non-repetitive music would sound like. That is music with absolutely no repetition of notes or rhythms. Is it melodically and harmonically consonant? Are the rhythms disjunct? Can you imagine a simple tune without repetition?

Here’s an original melody with no repeating notes or rhythms:

This is certainly not a bad melody, but if we look at the intervals between the notes we see repetition. There’s a descending major second between the G-F, E-D, and B-A.

Let’s try a melody with no repeating notes, rhythms, or intervals:

The intervals in order are: ascending perfect 5th, descending major 2nd, ascending major 3rd, descending perfect 5th, descending minor 3rd, and ascending perfect 4th.

This is great! There’s no repetition anywhere, but now what happens next? If we move the melody to a different octave or other transposition we’ll have different notes, but the same rhythm and most likely the same intervals (unless you transpose diatonically). Logically, the length of a non-repetitive piece is dependent on the range of the instrument or ensemble.

This is all a very long way of saying one of the few maxims in music: repetition is essential.