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On Repeat

How Music Plays the Mind

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

06 February 2014

ISBN: 9780199990825

224 pages

Price: £38.49



On Repeat offers an in-depth inquiry into music's repetitive nature. Drawing on a diverse array of fields, it sheds light on a range of issues from repetition's use as a compositional tool to its role in characterizing our behavior as listeners, and considers related implications for repetition in language, learning, and communication.

  • Takes an interdisciplinary approach connecting music, cognition, psychology, and neurology
  • Offers new implications for the relationship between music and language, the nature of musical pleasure, and the cognitive science of musical repetition
  • Accessibly written for general readers interested in the common human experience of music

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Associate Professor of Music, University of Arkansas

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis directs the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. Her research uses theoretical, behavioral, and neuroimaging methodologies to investigate the dynamic, moment-to-moment experience of listeners without special musical training. She was also trained as a concert pianist.

Table of Contents

    Table of Contents
    1. The Puzzle of Musical Repetition
    2. From Acoustic to Perceived Repetition
    3. Attention, Temporality, and Music that Repeats Itself
    4. Earworms, Technology, and the Verbatim
    5. Relistenings
    6. In Performance
    7. Overt Participation, Implied Participation
    8. Repetition, Music, and Mind


"Marguliss is a wide-ranging study that engages with musical repetition in both its production and reception through experimental studies that she and others have conducted, through reflections on the cognitive capacities of humans (including the neurophysiological substrates of such capacities), and through a consideration of some of the roles music plays in cultural and social interactions" - Lawrence M. Zbikowski, Music Theory Spectrum

"a signal musical and intellectual achievement." - Jonathan Dunsby, Music and Letters

"The engaging, entertaining style of On Repeat makes it a pleasure to read ... an important contribution to the field of music cognition, and should be of interest to scholars throughout the field." - Music Perception

"Margulis tells a compelling story about how we process the world and construct our musical discourses ... On Repeat is an exciting new examination of a very old subject. It is eminently readable and intriguing, having much to offer the academic musician, the experimental psychologist, or the interested lay reader. The book represents a significant advance in our understanding of the deep questions behind the variegated phenomena of musical repetition." - Music Theory Online

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