Monday, September 4th, 2017...5:42 pmKara

On “The Death of the Robot with Human Hair”- Epistrophe

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Repetition remains the best tool to memorize concepts, so it’s unsurprising that song lyrics employ the epistrophe to set songs on repeat in listeners’ minds. Scholars define epistrophes as repeating one or more words when concluding phrases.

In “Death of the Robot with Human Hair,”, Dance Gavin Dance uses epistrophes to emphasize the shifts between voices and transformations of the first voice and crowd. In the song, two voices are present: the first-person and a commentary point of view. The first voice shifts between speaking to a crowd and to himself, which is signaled by switches between “you,” “I,” and “we.”

Speaking to the crowd, the first character repeats “over,” in the first, third, and sixth lines of the piece, using it to describe the transformation’s termination and the death of their previous selves. Throughout the next two stanzas, the near-epistrophe, “My survival is all I think about now/Our survival is all we’ll think about now,” highlights both the shift between the first voice’s inner dialogue and speech and the disparity between the speaker’s actual priority and what he wants the crowd to believe is his priority.

The song shifts and uses the secondary voice to comment on the first’s transition from mortal to cyborg, evolving as he rids himself humanity and emotional vulnerability, the “diseases” of society. The secondary voice becomes chant-like, using the epistrophes of “holy” and “golden” with the anaphora “make this” to propel the view that forcibly removing vulnerability and humanity increases his divinity, going on to reveal the belief that eventually our “toxic society” will be cleansed completely by this removal.

By thinking about “Death of the Robot with Human Hair” with epistrophes in mind, the shifts between voices and intent are more apparent, as are the transformations of the crowd and the first voice.


  • How do the voice changes pertaining to epistrophes affect the meaning of the repeated phrase? The epistrophe in the line you cited about survival significantly changes the tone of the from a sense of selfishness to a kind of community in survival.

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 5th, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Kara, this is a fascinating account of how understanding epistrophe helps us to “get” how Dance Gavin Dance stages (I think?) a conversation among several voices who share phrases but not point of view.

    Now I wonder how you might *shape* this post–at the levels of the paragraph and the sentence–to get it within the word limit. Concision is part of the challenge (and prose-style reward!) of these blog posts.

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