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Why We Listen Repeatedly to the Same Songs

Why We Listen Repeatedly to the Same Songs

Why, when there are hundreds of thousands of songs released each year, do we choose to listen to the same ones over and over?  It is a fact that 90 percent of the music we listen to is music that we have heard before.

The reason may be rooted in science.  Elizabeth Margulis, Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas has stated that “Musical repetition gets us imagining or singing through the bit we expect to come next, and a sense of shared subjectivity with the music can arise. When people talk about their most intense experiences of music they feel that the boundary between the music and themselves has dissolved.” For example, like when listening to your favourite band at a live performance.

You play songs on repeat, then, because it feels as if you’re singing it, a sort of “virtual participation.” It’s similar to reading a book or watching a movie over again as if you were creating the music with your mind — as if it were a part of you.

To some extent, that relies on something known to scientists as the mere exposure effect. That is, we like things just because we’ve heard them again and again. That same principle is behind the music industry’s ability to brainwash listeners into liking songs simply by buying up radio play time. The industry has used the science of earworms, too, to build unbeatable pop songs like “All About That Bass”. 99 percent of the population report having had a song stuck in their head before, and often they’re songs with repetitive melodic lines (try reading “All about that bass / Bout that bass / No treble” without singing it).

The music we want to play again and again is a clue to how our minds are made and who we are. Depending on our musical backgrounds and personality, you may enjoy listening to the same AC/DC track again and again, while another person may enjoy a Beethoven Sonata played a couple of times.  Frederick Conrad, Research Professor at the University of Michigan surveyed 204 male and female participants, asking what type of music they were listening to most frequently at the time. Pop and rock genres were shown to be the most popular, but rap, country, jazz, and reggae were also listed.

The questionnaire found 86 percent of those surveyed would listen to their favourite songs once a week at the bare minimum, while almost half admitted to listening daily. What’s more, once a song really resonated with participants, 60 percent weren’t ashamed to reveal they’d immediately re-listen up to four times in a row. Given that the average song lasts about 3 minutes, it means the participants in this research were spending more than 15 minutes at a time absorbing the same sounds.

When asked how to describe their favourite songs effect, the participants’ answers were divided into three categories: happy and energetic, calm and relaxed, and bittersweet. Over two-thirds of Conrad’s study participants favoured tunes that fell under the happy/energetic category. The rhythm and beat of the music appeared to be what was important, driving people to tap their feet, clap their hands, or drum on their furniture.

Soothing music was also popular, as it incited a sense of calm in the listeners, and helped them “put things into perspective,”

Surprisingly, bittersweet songs take the cake, with participants listening to these tracks 790 times on average. Conrad suggests this is because melancholy songs “evoked the deepest connections,” and caused the participants to link sound to memory. The fact that these types of songs are typically easily memorized certainly is a factor. It is the emotional connection you have with a song that makes the repetition so satisfying. Participants reported having high levels of connection with their named song, with higher connection associated with a tendency to close their eyes during listening to devote the fullest attention to it.

The reason why you constantly listen to one or a few particular songs is because that’s what appeals to you at the time; it could be a confidence booster, something to put you at ease, or something that holds sentimental value. The music you enjoy is directly linked to your emotions.

Now you know why you listen to the music you enjoy, talk to Goolwa Music School about learning to play the music you enjoy. Contact us here.

20 Things to Check when Buying a Stringed Instrument

20 Things to Check when Buying a Stringed Instrument

Here is a list of things you should check and take into account when you are buying a stringed instrument. Some apply to used instruments only. Whether you are buying a violin, viola, cello or bass it is better to be prepared with what to look out for before investing in a new instrument.

  • The first thing to consider is which size is best for you. If you are buying a violin there is a great size chart here. A ¾ size Cello’s total length should be 45 inches and the bow 27 inches. Measure from the top of the purfling to the bottom (use a cloth tape).

  • Handmade by Luthier will be superior to a factory made. These days a Luthier made new instrument is not common, most new instruments are factory made, so be prepared to pay more for handmade by a Luthier. It is more likely you will find a handmade instrument at a reasonable price if you are buying pre-loved.

  • The instrument should be made of maple and spruce, not plywood or veneer.  Look for the wood grain.

  • Fingerboard and pegs should be made of rosewood or ebony, not stained or painted black, as these create friction and make the instrument difficult to play.

  • Check how easy is it to tune the Cello to concert pitch? The strings and bridge will break on a  poorly made instrument when tuned to the correct pitch.

  • Check for cracks.  An old Cello will have some scuffs and some cracks may be acceptable depending on where they are.  Make sure they are level and closed.  Don’t buy a Cello if there is a crack under the soundpost or bridge.

  • Make sure the original scroll is fitted. The neck and scroll should be one piece, if there is a join it indicates that the scroll has been replaced or the instrument is poorly made.

  • Are the pegs easy to move? Do they slip? (Planetary Precision Pegs are available and are very good)

  • Look inside to see if the sound post is standing and in the correct position. If it is not in place the instrument will need work to sound correct.

  • Look at the size of the nut, are the strings too far off the fingerboard, are the grooves correctly spaced? (images)

  • Is the fingerboard the correct shape?  Is it properly planed under the C string? (images)

  • For Cello’s and Bass’s check that the endpin does not slip and holds firm.  Is it long enough.  What sort of point is on the end, you may need a pad for slippery floors.

  • Check the bridge

    • What sort of wood is it made of

    • Is it the correct height

    • Should not be glued on

    • Do the feet make full contact with the instrument

    • How thick is it

    • Is the curve the correct shape

    • Are the notches correctly spaced and the right depth

    • Is it aligned in the correct position

 

  • Have a few scales and pieces prepared to play.  Take some music with you.  Use the same ones on each instrument you try so you can hear the difference.

  • Play in all registers.

  • Ask the owner to play for you.

  • Temperature and humidity will affect the sound, take this into consideration.

  • Try and play in different acoustic environments.

  • Is the instrument responsive – is it easy to play pp and ff – check the dynamic range?  Is it loud enough on the C string and does the sound project.

  • Listen for any buzzing noises. If apparent, these usually occur above between the fingering and the nut or from the tailpiece.

  • Are there any wolf notes? The sometimes can be reduced or eliminated by using a device such as this modulator here.

  • Ask how and where the instrument has been stored, and how much it was played

  • Remember some parts can be upgraded (strings, pegs, tailpieces etc) but will be additional costs for you

  • What sort of bow does it have?  Is it the correct length.  Does it need rehairing? Octagonal bows are less flexible. If you are replacing an instrument, it is a good idea to continue using your old bow on the new instrument for a period of time until you become accustomed to the new instrument. Then you can try to the bow. Each bow is slightly different and it is better to have a familiar friend in your bowing hand as you get used to your new instrument.

  • What sort of case does it have? Do you need a hard case or will a soft case be sufficient?