When is Repetition too much?

A student of mine just finished a track that is beautiful in every way except there is little to no development. It’s basically repeated clips that drop in and out. I want to encourage him to create musical variety in his track but perhaps it’s correct the way it is for the R&B/hip-hop genre. Any thoughts or suggestions? Personally, I can’t compose without development and variety.

even if R&B/hphop you can have some variation
by exemple if the track has a little structure like this
verse / verse 2 / verse 3 / verse 4
you can insert a littlre bridge/or break in this way
verse 1/ Verse 2/ break 1 / verse 3 / verse 4/ break 2 …
the break can be full instrumental or instrumental with speaking voice, or anything else in the mood of
the rythm can be change a little also
the track to keep something homogenenous
it is just some idea not a guide line

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Even if your repeating samples/phrases, grooves you still need some development or movement evolving. Put in interesting production - new percussion, filter sweep, change up what tracks you have - drop to just bass or just vocal - use transitions to add interest into each section - reversed vocals, cymbals - put a small build or drop in etc. Add effects to say high hat - some slight phasing or chorus at different points in the track.

Ok not hip hop but gives you an idea of how you can have the same thing - both examples same chord/melody all the way through but just changes on production make the whole track

Spectrum by Zedd and Latch by Disclosure


Lots of production on those tracks. Great examples.

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I used to find a lot of my students that wrote R&B / Hip Hop thought they could get away with loops, but when you listen closely to most (good) hip hop music, there’s actually quite a lot of subtle changes happening throughout.

Often just small things, like the kick drum missing a beat, or a hi-hat pattern coming in and out - or even just tiny alterations to percussion patterns.

Sometimes they layer up synth parts and add or remove layers at different points too.

So, generally, less obvious developments, but still quite a lot happening.

I think one of my favourite EDM tricks is “rhythmic dissonance” - where you set conflicting time signatures or pattern groups alongside each other (like a hemiola).

Here’s a resource if you want to “geek out” :sweat_smile: : https://eaglefeather.honors.unt.edu/sites/eaglefeather.honors.unt.edu/files/documents/2017/pdf//adamsfinal.pdf