Songs That Loop Endlessly. Forever. And Ever.


Play it all night long... ThinkStock

In our podcast episode "A Musical Time Machine for the Brain," I asked listeners to share any musical compositions that looped back on themselves, essentially becoming endless. I asked, because I couldn't think of any examples of this, no matter how much the CD format seemed to demand it.

Several of you wrote in with suggestions, so I thought I'd throw them all in a post for possible discussion. If you had to listen to one of these on loop for a week, which would you pick?

Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

Submitted by Sam L.

There is faint, almost inaudible dialogue at the very beginning of the first track. Listen closely, and you'll hear that it's saying "- we came in?" Go to the end of the album, which has the same simple instrumental tune which you hear at the beginning, and in the album's final moment the words "isn't this where -" are spoken. "Isn't this where we came in?" Pretty cool, huh? It certainly blew my mind. Not only because it's a cool trick, but also because it seems to symbolize that the poor, tortured main character of The Wall is caught in a sort of never-ending cycle, shifting between peace and psychological turmoil.

Marilyn Manson's "Antichrist Superstar"

Submitted by Rafael A.

"(It) loops from track 99 to track 1 with the same robotic voice 'When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you' Also since you guys were talking about playing with the cd format check out The Flaming Lips album Zaireeka its 4 cds that can be combined in any number of ways to create a different experience each time but for the best sensory overload get 4 cars with cd players and park them in a circle/square and sit in the middle and listen to the 360 surround sound of awesomeness that ensues."

Modern Video Game Music

Submitted by Christopher W.

"I know this is kind of nerdy but video games have been doing this for ages. If a game has you loitering in an area or say youre going against a level that could take 10 minutes to an hour it has to have the same music track, hence it operates on loop. "Obviously these might not have been the most interesting songs historically but as technology has progressed and games use full orchestras rather then 10 second midi loops, there have been some interesting results."

"Feed the Animals" by Girl Talk

Submitted by Andrew M.

"There's a mash up DJ that goes by the name if Girl Talk... like the old board game... that has an album out titled Feed the Animals that he ends on the same song mixed in that it starts with so you can throw it on loop at a party and it seems to never really end... He makes some really cool songs that mixed everything from new and old rap with stuff like Rolling Stones... or the music to ELO.... it's definitely not for everyone but he puts on some of the craziest shows I've ever been to."

Traditional Javanese and Balinese Music

Submitted by Edmundo L.

"As you two may (or may not know), Javanese and Balinese gamelan are highly cyclical musical supergenres, whose cycles are marked primarily by various gongs in the ensembles. "With respect to pieces that are cyclical and could *possibly go on forever*, one composition type that comes to mind is the Javanese 'gangsaran' ('gahng-sah-rahn) ['to proceed smoothly'], an eight-beat cycle that emphasizes one particular pitch. What keeps the gangsaran from getting too monotonous is twofold: first, three types of gongs hold a particular pattern within the cycle, and second, the main drummer controls the dynamics and tempo of the gangsaran. "The basic gangsaran cycle is represented thus [( ) = gong ageng (ah-'guhng), the large gong with no particular pitch; P = kempur (kum-'poor), smaller hanging gong tuned to particular pitches; N = kenong (kuh-'nong), smaller horizontally-suspended gongs tuned to particular pitches]: Gangsaran: -- (X) [ X N P N P N P (X) ] "In practice, gangsaran cycles are usually used to begin and end certain loud-style pieces, as well as in some dynamic dramatic sequences such as battle scenes, like in the video I've included here."

Have more examples? Disagree with the listener-suggested ones above? Let us know! We'll add to the list.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.