Studying Children’s Literature and reading several likeminded young adolescent fictions these days remind me of tireless repetition, which is believed to be a significant technique widely used in those books. I never really like repetition, nor assume it dreadfully dull, for with the evocation of both rather wicked-looking twins in Diane Arbus’ picture and The Shining, an odd feeling of grotesquerie creeps up behind my back. Yes, it is certainly the image of two identical selves that really scares me, for whom are you going to fight off first?
Nevertheless, the benefit of employing repetition in children books is psychologically affirmed. It is generally believed that there is no better way of memorizing things promptly and effectually than having a nagging one dinning them like rambles into your ears. Therefore, with children books once grasping the template of plots in the first chapter, the other ones are just another flip of the coin. I reckon the complacent predictability of those stories as something rather heart-tugging, since at the back of my mind a sheriff is constantly warning me from taking the fact for granted lest some abrupt change or cliffhanger did come in the way.
I’m not so sure whether the aforesaid quasi-interpretation can be also applied to music. Repetition has been held as a cult especially by popsters, who are notorious for repeating the chorus part like how those quack cafes love to pour treacle on their suet puddings. There are some rare ones that actually manage to make repetition impressive: the opening song in Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs, “Terrapin,” sounds unbelievably longer than its five-minutes or so length, but the illusion is accepted admiringly, as well as the repetition, which actually blends into a blurry echo when listening half-consciously.
Claiming to be one who helplessly has a low boredom threshold, I dislike things that eventually wind up in a tiresome prolix and sift through songs that are over five minutes long. When listening to Marc Bolan in Tyrannosaurus Rex I almost sensed his impatience of extending a song thus making it as short and brisk as possible, but his later band, T.Rex put all my misconceptions to bed. The song “Spaceball Ricochet,” like “Terrapin,” runs the gamut illusorily longer than its veritable length, and once you think Marc Bolan is finally maundering the final note, there the song spins off again from the start. The repetition in “Spaceball Ricochet” leaves a nostalgic stamp in my heart.
Reverberation comes the closest of being the synonym of repetition but in a more refined form. Being a linchpin between an audible sound and an echo, I’ve always delineated it as “the wings on the sound”, if the sound did abstractly carry and fly. Anything that grows wings will not only set free from your fettered state, but when intractably, flying you up to the very apogee of sky where some only be freighted before finding faults with the untimliness. That is why I slink from reverb most of the time, for the invocation of a heavenly enlightenment is somewhat too much for me.
It is an ideal for me to still stick to short-lengthened songs, especially the most beautiful part which I will summon it to appear only once or at most twice. It is human beings’ natural inclination to repeat the song again and again when they never come close to savour the fruitful portion. Who says it is an anticlimax, if insatiability drives people to do the repetition?