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What is the definition of the expression "you are churning it", other than its literal sense? I heard it in the context of someone playing music.

  • You might post a quote or some lyrics for context. – zpletan Apr 13 '12 at 12:09
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Was it said as praise or as criticism? Makes a difference :)

Rock music or experimental... ? Amateur/semipro/pro? Which instrument?

Churning means, I think (too lazy to look in a dictionary) stirring cream until it turns to butter. So it's a repetitive motion and one that is confined to the same space.

There are a number of metaphorical uses... one is as a derogatory term for an unethical practice in financial management, when a money manager turns over your assets repeatedly in order to collect on transaction fees.

In improvised music, especially modal music with little harmonic movement, a musician might be noodling around in the same mode for some time and appear not to be "going anywhere", at least not harmonically. This is a kind of lateral movement and possibly "you are churning it" refers to this; it doesn't sound too complimentary. Then again, it could perhaps be a complimentary remark if that's what is desired.

  • In the context where I heard, it sounded very much like "noodling around in the same mode for some time". Thanks! – 719016 Apr 13 '12 at 12:32

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