Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780190454746
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Aesthetics
  • Attention
  • Borrowing
  • Listener experience
  • Motivic structure
  • Music perception
  • Repetition
  • Subjectivity
  • Tonality


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