Kim Lajoie's blog

Rap it in a Grid

by Kim Lajoie on June 2, 2012

Nishant Kothary:

Users want a predictable experience. When something is a link, users want to know it without having to think about it. A link should behave like other links.

But users demand that these expected experiences simultaneously be delightful. For most people, this idea is somewhere on a tangent, living on the opposite end of where non-spontaneous Mr. Predictable does.

To bring this full circle back to music, one of the composer’s main jobs is to balance predictability and unpredictability.

Predictability gives the listener a framework for understanding the music. It also provide a degree of comfort and familiarity, which is critical for the listener to actually give your music a chance.

Unpredictability gives the listener a surprise! It what gives the music character. It’s what causes someone to fall in love with a song.

Too much predictability makes a song boring – no matter how cool your sounds are or how authentic your emulations are. Those of you who make music that looks like lego blocks in your sequencer know what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, too much unpredictability makes a song difficult to follow and difficult to learn and remember. Autechre, I’m looking at you.

All composers – even rappers – must dance between these two extremes.

-Kim.

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