From Our Listeners

Letters: Musical Repetition And Keeping 'The' Away From Ukraine

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Audie Cornish and Melissa Block read letters from listeners about repetition in music and what to call Ukraine.


Time now for your letters. On Wednesday we explored the difference between Ukraine and the Ukraine. The Ukraine is a common construction. In our story we noted the nation's constitution clearly names it as Ukraine.

PETER FEDYNSKY: When people say the Ukraine I feel somehow a little twinge.

BLOCK: That's Ukrainian American translator Peter Fedynsky who says adding the the diminishes its value.


Well, Douglas Robertson of Baltimore writes, it is unsurprising that Ukraine is called simply Ukraine in the Ukrainian constitution because the Ukrainian language has no definite article, no equivalent of the. If the Ukrainians do not wish their country to be called the Ukraine in English, fine. But the case for the thelessness cannot be built on what they call their country in their own language.

BLOCK: Also this week we heard a story about our love of repetition in music.

CORNISH: Our love of what?

BLOCK: Of repetition in music. Music psychologist Elizabeth Margulis says it seems to be a cultural universal.

ELIZABETH MARGULIS: So not only does every known human culture make music, but also every known human culture makes music where repetition is a defining element.

CORNISH: Listener Josh Cleveland of Broadview Heights, Ohio writes, how many times have I told someone I didn't like that song when I first heard it, but it's really grown on me over time, the mirror exposure effect? How many times have I listened to an utterly familiar song and in one serendipitous moment discovered something new within its lyrics or melodies?

BLOCK: One song may be an exception. Michael Cutmas of Longmont, Colorado, quoted its lyrics and his comment at

MICHAEL CUTMAS: This is the song that doesn't end, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was...

BLOCK: Thankfully this song will come to an end but never our need for your letters. Write to us. Go to and click on contact.


BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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