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"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts." Richard Feynman.

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The repetition factor

Posted by Vert - March 29th, 2012

So, continuing from a previous rant and, again, for my own personal indulgence, let me talk a little about the the repetition factor when considering a VG song. We, as humans, tend to be, well, indoctrinated by repetition; if we listen to a song enough times, there's a natural tendency towards liking by sure attrition.

Now, of course, this goes both ways; listen to a song too many times and only the best of the best will still seem fresh and interesting after that. But, in videogames, that normally doesn't happen, fortunately, despite the inherent repetition that tends to exist in this format, because developers know of this and try to create at least some diversity. There are some notorious exceptions, such as Castlevania: SotN and the song that plays in the inverted castle, Final Toccata.


This is a song that crosses the line; it's actually quite good, but the length of time most players will have to listen to it will, almost inevitably, make them dislike it eventually.

So, instead, let me give an example of a song that, through sheer attrition, a lot of people seem to like, Battle Theme from FFIV.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nh5QcbYvGM&featu re=related

Is it a bad song? No, not really. It's catchy, it gets your blood pumping and it transmits the nature of the fight well; it's not too epic (which would dilute the songs used in boss battles), nor too 'light', and it doesn't become 'bad' after hearing too many times, so it certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do. But is it a really good song? Nope. It's excessively simple, short and, quite frankly, unimaginative, specially when you compare to later Battle Themes of other FF's.

So, again, not a bad song, but certainly not a landmark or brilliant composition.

What example can I give them, of a song that we've heard a million times that really does posses greatness, so to speak? Well, the example may seem trite, but Battle from Chrono Trigger.


We hear this song many, many times during the game, so there's a definite repetition factor going on here, but this is a much superior song to the above. Sure, it's also a bit too short, but it conveys all the positive things the previous song does, with a more interesting structure and lasting power. It's also got a few layers going into it and it's overall a better song.

So we have to be careful when considering these choices; a song might sound good if we hear it enough, but it might not be so good when we hear it the first time round.


Comments (7)

You have a point! And I must say I agree (On the SOTN ost).



Is there going to be a sequel to this book?

By book you mean these posts on VG music? Well, there's the original post that started it and not much else for now; I may one day get around to explaining more aspects I'd consider, but I'm quite busy right now, so nothing short term.

If not, then I'm not sure what you meant...

Yo vert, you're looking at it in the completely wrong way, it's not all about repitition, that would be stupid. Think about it, for songs, it's all about emotion, for games, it's mainly about a task. Feeling the same emtions don't make them boring, because emotions are never boring, that's not how we work, you don't see jesus getting bored of loving people, that would be stuipd, because love makes us feel good, so we do it more. But games. It's more like a task, the task itself, depending on what it is. Is, what's the word.... relative. If it's a scary game, you won't get bored no matter how many times you do it, UNTIL you stop getting scared of it, like resident evil 2, that part with the dogs, I could never finish that part alone. But if I beat the game 2000 times, then you just do the game instinctively, and you aren't scared at all, THEN does it start to become boring, the parts you find easy that don't require you to think or anything. Like. If you are very impatient, which is bad, like I have become, working outside in the garden becomes boring after 1 or 2 minutes, especially after I get tired, then my patience is very low. And I have no will to keep on digging. Because it's hard and boring.

I don't quite follow your reasoning all the way, but I think I see what you mean. But I think you're misunderstanding what my rant is talking about, I'm not talking about the games themselves, but how we, game players react to songs within games and how we end feeling about them.

My main point is that because video games make us listen to certain songs over and over again, the effects of this repetition can alter our base perceptions of a song, and I just try to discuss, more or less successfully, what these effects are; it can make us see them in a more positive way and negative and it's hard to dissociate this effects from how we feel when we talk about them...

This is nothing to do with how we feel about the games themselves which, by the nature of being interactive, are a different thing altogether.

Ohh, then if that's your point, then I agree with you hahaahah. Yea, of course listening to something a lot of times makes you like it more. I don't know why, but that's what it is. Maybe if I think about it The answer will come to me. But yea, that's true, listening to something a lot of times makes you like it more. Like my sister's songs on her cd, I listened to them at first, and then I kept on listening. It's been maybe 4 years, and I still listen to it. The same 4 songs. I like them, but you know after a while, you stop paying attention to the song because it got a little boring. Plus if you don't feel the music anymore, you're going to get bored too.

Poetically put.



No comment.


Yeah, sure.


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