Repeat After Me: It’s Normal to Play the Same Song Over and Over Again

“Dad, can you please play another song?”

The request came on a recent Sunday morning from my 14-year-old son, as I was in the kitchen listening for the 12th straight time to Wes Montgomery’s 1965 recording of John Coltrane’s “Impressions” — a whirlwind of sensational guitar playing, complemented by bass (Arthur Harper), piano (Harold Mabern), and drums (Jimmy Lovelace) that lift Montgomery’s chords into the sonic stratosphere.

But this gem of musical dervish-ness — Montgomery and jazz at their best — is only three minutes and 37 seconds long. I want the song’s feeling to last much, much longer. And I have the power to do that, by changing the YouTube URL just a tiny bit. In a few seconds, I’ve commanded my computer to repeat the song ad infinitum. Read on >

New ways into the brain's "music room"

Whether to enliven a commute, relax in the evening or drown out the buzz of a neighbor’s recreational drone, Americans listen to music nearly four hours a day. In international surveys, people consistently rank music as one of life’s supreme sources of pleasure and emotional power. We marry to music, graduate to music, mourn to music. Every culture ever studied has been found to make music, and among the oldest artistic objects known are slender flutes carved from mammoth bone some 43,000 years ago — 24,000 years before the cave paintings of Lascaux. Read on >