Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Curious, if True

There is a reticence to consider the possibility that having music "stuck in your head" might impair thinking or perception.  The German word for this phenomenon is ohrwurm, meaning "earworm".

The idea that such a thing as involuntary sound imagery could interfere with consciousness is problematic, as music is so prevalent in daily life.  Nevertheless, it is a fact that recorded music has existed for less than two hundred years, and has never been as accessable and ubiquitous at any previous time in human history.

In a waiting room recently I could hear the music a young girl was listening to on an iPod or mp3 player.  I was unfamiliar with the songs, but, objectively, they were interesting for what they were, being complex lyrically, it seemed, though instrumentally generic and predictable in terms of arrangement and production. 

Then I realized she was singing along with every song, so quietly her vocals blended perfectly with the low volume of the music, flawlessly in tune and, in fact, decorously, given the setting.  It was a rather long wait, so this continued for quite some time, exactly as described, through perhaps five or six songs.

When she stopped and glanced around the room, I complimented her on her voice.  I asked if she was "a singer".  She was not, but was pleased with the compliment.  "When you're not listening," I asked, "Do you hear the songs in your head?"

"All the time," she said.  "Always."

I did not ask if she could "make them go away".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments opened Jan. 2016. All comments moderated, out of respect for the intelligence of the audience.