The Impossible Made Real: A Typology of Loops and an Exploration of the Impact of Immediacy and Hypermediacy in Popular Music


  • Paul Carr University of South Wales
  • Ben Challis Manchester Metropolitan University


All popular music has a degree of repetition at a micro and/or macro level, a paradigm that has also been shown to be true in both the European classical tradition and music of most other cultures. The occurrences of these events can range from the smallest motific melodic fragment, to ‘phrase’ (question/answer) and ‘section’ (verse chorus) repetitions, to riff based harmonic/melodic patterns. These repetitions usually occur on an intra compositional basis, but as evidenced by the pervasiveness of sampled loops in contemporary dance music and rap, can also work on inter compositional levels, resulting in potential conceptual allusions of musical (and non musical) factors between texts. This essay examines the creative incorporation of a specific type of repetition in popular music, that of loop-based composition and improvisation.



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