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date: 23 March 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Repetition lies at the core of musical practice, yet resists easy characterization. This chapter takes a perceptual approach to understanding its function, distinguishing acoustic repetition from notated repetition from perceived repetition, and exploring the paradoxical way that repeating sounds can give rise to perceptions of difference. Relying on analytic examples, it outlines three standard functions for musical repetition. First, repetition can establish the basic parameters for engaging with a piece of music, contributing to emergent perceptions of tonality and thematic content. Second, repetition can choreograph attention, drawing focus to aspects of the music not available on first hearing. Third, repetition can draw listeners into a participatory relationship with sound, laying the foundation for various affective and affiliative responses to music.

Keywords: repetition, music perception, attention, tonality, motivic structure, subjectivity, borrowing, listener experience, aesthetics

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