Music theory 1

I was talking to a couple of friends about what makes music interesting and or good. We came to the subject of patterns in music. That is, each piece of music is built using some form of pattern. In its most basic form, this pattern can for example be a repeated list of drum beats. Let's try to represent this repeated list of drum beats with numbers. Imagine each number as a unique sound.

1,2,1,2,...

Can you guess what comes next? Both visually, and auditory guessing what comes next is intuitive. 1,2 of course. We can make this repetition of numbers more interesting by making the pattern harder to predict, what if we add a new sound:

1,3,2,1,1,3,2,1,...

This is still too easy, what about:

1,2,1,3,1,4,1,2,...

We can make this harder and harder to predict. My theory is that our mind is being stimulated by finding repetitions, it being audio or visual repetitions. But only up to a limit. What if I gave you this string of beats:

1,3,2,4,1,2,2,4,3,4,2,...

This was made by a random number generator. I don't think we'd enjoy this piece.

I think different beat complexity is nice for different purposes. If your sole activity is to listen to the music, you probably want some more complex repetitions. However, if you are listening to music while driving, gaming, studying or anything that requires focus, you probably want to listen to less 'complex' music. The complexity of the music is the difficulty of finding the pattern of notes in the music.

Each song is 'built' using strings of notes. Each string contains a pattern of notes and each string has different patterns. That is, we can call the following pattern string a:

1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2...

If it is too difficult to understand the pattern of a string in the time it is played, perhaps the string can be replayed multiple times over the course of the song. This would give the listener more time to understand the string. Maybe a simpler string can be used to allow the listener to 'rest' in between more complex patterns. Perhaps a pattern can be made of strings. That is if there exists three strings a,b and c, all containing different patterns of beats, the strings can be played in a repetitive order. E.x.

a, b, c, a, b, c...

This is all speculatory, but I believe the song you enjoy the most makes you understand the beat pattern just before the song changes beat pattern. That is, once you have understood the pattern of a string, the next string should be played. Parts of one string can be a sub-string of another string to make the other string easier to recognize.

This might also be the reason for why we get tired of listening to the same song. It becomes too repetitive. That is if we are not emotionally attached to the song. Perhaps that is also why we can start out disliking a chaotic song, but start liking it once we have listened to it multiple times. The pattern is becomes easier to predict once we've heard it multiple times.


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