On Repeat: Frank Ocean, Beethoven, and Encores

Winchester, VA to Middleburg, VA

This is a collection of observations made from listening to music in the car on the way to work.


In Frank Ocean’s latest album there is a section of one song, “Night”(3:28 to the end), that is my favorite part of the entire record.

Find myself rewinding the song to 3:28 again and again. Probably have done so seven or eight times consecutively in the car.

I sometimes put in Blonde, go directly to “Night”, and repeat above process until I have had my share. Then I take the album out and put in another CD.

—–

This strange routine is part of the tradition of encores in a way.

Today we think of encores as an excuse to get the musician(s) to come back on stage and play more material they have not played yet. What was common a while ago, however, was for the audience to request the repetition of a movement or two from what they already heard.

There is an entertaining anecdote of Beethoven learning that the audience only wanted the middle two movements of his Op. 130 String Quartet encored. Nobody wanted to hear again the much labored and now immortal final movement: the Grosse Fugue.

Beethoven’s response? “And why didn’t they encore the fugue? That alone should have been repeated. Cattle! Asses!”

—–

With modern technology, an encore in the aforementioned way can be broken down even further.

Repeat a movement? How about the 27th to 50th measure of the second movement. How about from 3:28 to the end? With a recording like Frank Ocean’s Blonde and a disc player in my car, I can do that.

An encore of seconds. Is that not the spirit of sampling?

——

Only recording of Frank Ocean’s “Night” in its entirety is a sped up and higher pitched version (here). In a style dubbed ‘nightcore’.

Wikipedia’s definition:

“A ‘nightcore’ edit is a remix track that speeds up and increases the pitch. Formed in 2002, the name for the internet-based genre was originally defined as sped-up and pitch-shifted versions of trance and eurodance songs, but its definition expanded into non-dance territory by the time the remix style became popular in the 2010s”.

Draws a blurred line between a stylistic decision and a way to keep parts of Frank Ocean’s new album up without any fuss from the label.

Love it.

—–

The other recording of “Night” on Youtube?

Not the complete song but all 1:41 of my favorite and relentlessly encored part of Blonde (here).

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