Thursday, 9 October 2008

Earworms

I learned something interesting yesterday.

Being in Christchurch, I get to scan through a different daily paper in the mornings. I say “scan through” because I have not properly read a newspaper in months, and tend to read news online or over a coffee in a cafe during the weekend (if I get a chance). But with a newspaper laid outside our apartment door every morning, I feel I should at least skim through the headlines.

I read an article from the Washington Post entitled “Songs stuck on the brain”. It turns out that researchers have some new theories on tunes that repeat in your head. I was intrigued.

I have this problem. Majorly. There is always a song or a song fragment in my head (currently “I Fought the Law” by The Clash), whether I like it or not. If I’m lucky, it’s a good song musically. If not, I can get myself seriously annoyed, like the time I couldn’t get to sleep because the phrase “and of course Henry the Horse dances the waltz” from The Beatles’ "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" (from Sergeant Pepper) was going round and round, driving me to despair.

Sometimes I can concentrate on changing the song. I try to make it Phoebe Snow’s “Every Night”, which is perhaps my all-time favourite song and a great mood changer for me (usually positive!). But it’s not always successful, and now I know why.

I have what’s called an earworm. Yes, you heard right. Apparently the kind of music that earworms like is largely repetitive and simple, with unexpected lyrics. (Henry the Horse fits this description perfectly!). Some people get earworms more than others. Apparently those most susceptible are musicians (moi) and women (moi again), therefore there is officially no hope for me. My earworms are here to stay. I’d may as well make them comfy and train them with some good music.

3 comments:

Sab said...

Hmmm... perhaps mine likes to ring in my ear every so often when it can't think of any songs to torment me with!

Random Thoughts said...

I have the earworm problem, but in addition to that a different sort of trigger. Someone may say something in a conversation or I will say or hear a word and then the song plays. There is a girl in my class and every time I say her name I sing Informer an awful rap song from the 90's. God forbid someone say "all I am saying is...." Then I just sing Give Peace a chance. This list is endless. Open up your ears and your musical mind and this problem may infect you as well.

Evelyn said...

I guess I have an earworm, too! I'm back to singing in a choir, so now my earworm is enjoying pieces of music that were difficult to learn! Ah, the joy of having learned the music, and the joy of hearing it in my mind! I love the idea of calling this an earworm. :~)