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‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’: Hooks, Repetition, and Our Musical Memory

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Dr. John Ashley Burgoyne

April 17, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Why are we able to remember some pieces of music for decades while other pieces of music seem to slip away no matter how many times we hear them? There is little consensus in the literature. Some theories suggest that a single, striking moment is sufficient – call it the ‘one time only’ hypothesis – while an alternative ‘one time more’ hypothesis suggests that repetition and return are essential to crafting a ‘hook’ in any genre. To test this hypothesis, we have undertaken a large and innovative experiment in the form of an iOS game during the Radio 2 Top 2000 broadcasts. Over 1500 people played the game, yielding more than 120 000 data points. In this talk, I will explain the experiment in more detail, who participated, and what we think it tells us about the workings of long-term musical memory.