Earworms

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Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:37 pm

I'm a child of the 70's. As a child I was terrified of the dark. Going to sleep in a dark room was impossible. I think it was my father that pushed the issue and insisted I turn out the lights to go to bed. I was allowed the concession of leaving my bedroom door ajar so that light and sound, my parents voices/tv, would enter my room. At some point even this was taken away. To go to bed I would have to close the door to my bedroom, turn out the lights with the switch at the door and then sprint across the room and jump into bed. The leap into my bed was necessary to avoid whatever it was living under my bed grabbing my ankles and pulling me under. I discovered that listening to the radio helped me relax and stop obsessing on the monsters under the bed and in my closet and scratching at the windows. My parents got me a portable, battery powered Mickey Mouse am/fm radio. For years I fell asleep listening to it every night and then later a clock radio, even long past the time that I had conquered the under-my-bed-demons by sleeping under my bed one night. As a child I listened to a soft rock/easy listening pop station as it was more soothing than other stations. Thus it was that 70's pop was indelibly etched into the architecture of my brain.



The Carpenters figure prominently among the pop neural pathways forged at this point of my life, which isn't surprising as they were the #1 selling American music act of the 1970s. They were a veritable earworm factory, churning out soothing pop sacharine ear candy hits for the masses terrified of the dark, terrified the Arabs were going to turn off the oil spigot, terrified civil order was going to break down, terrified the Ruskies were poisoning our precious bodily fluids, terrified of everything. Come to think of it a similar act could probably make a fortune these days.

So I've been doing some reading on the phemonenon referred to as earworms. Not surprisingly there is some evidence that susceptibility to earworm infections is corrolated with neuroticism, at least according to the research of James Kellaris Phd, university of Cincinnati.

"Earworms seem to be an interaction between properties of music (catchy songs are simple and repetitive), characteristics of individuals (levels of neuroticism) and properties of the context or situation (first thing in the morning, last thing at night or when people are under stress)," says Kellaris.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/jun/22/popandrock

Earworm, a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm,[1] is a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one's mind, put colloquially as "music being stuck in one's head." Use of the English translation was popularized by James Kellaris, a marketing researcher at the University of Cincinnati, and Daniel Levitin. Kellaris' studies demonstrated that different people have varying susceptibilities to earworms, but that almost everybody has been afflicted with one at some time or another.[2] According to research by James Kellaris, 98% of individuals experience earworms. Women and men experience the phenomenon equally often, but earworms are more likely to last longer for women and to irritate them more than men.[3] The psychoanalyst Theodor Reik used the term haunting melody to describe the psychodynamic features of the phenomenon.[4] The term Musical Imagery Repetition (MIR) was suggested by neuroscientist and pianist Sean Bennett in 2003 in a scientifically researched profile of the phenomenon.[5] Another scientific term for the phenomenon, involuntary musical imagery, or INMI, was suggested by the neurologist Oliver Sacks in 2007.[6]

The Official Earworm Synonym List includes alternative terms such as "music meme", "humsickness" , "repetunitis", "obsessive musical thought" and "tune wedgy."[7]

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to report being troubled by ear worms - in some cases, medications for OCD can minimize the effects.[8]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earworm

The World of INMI Research webpage is a valuable resource with lots of links to interesting articles and research on the subject:

http://i.org.helsinki.fi/lassial/articl ... I_research

I found the following an interesting read:


Steven Brown
The Perpetual Music Track

The Phenomenon of Constant Musical Imagery

Abstract: The perpetual music track is a new concept that describes a
condition of constant or near-constant musical imagery. This condition
appears to be very rare even among composers and musicians. I
present here a detailed self-analysis of musical imagery for the purpose
of defining the psychological features of a perpetual music track.
I have music running through my head almost constantly during waking
hours, consisting of a combination of recently-heard pieces and
distant pieces that spontaneously pop into the head. Imagery consists
mainly of short musical fragments that get looped repeatedly upon
themselves. Corporeal manifestations of imagery occur in the form of
unconscious finger movements whose patterns correspond to the
melodic contour of the imagined piece. Musical dreams occur every
week or two, and contain a combination of familiar and originallycomposed
music. These results are discussed in light of theories of
imagery, consciousness, hallucination, obsessive cognition, and most
especially the notion that acoustic consciousness can be split into
multiple parallel streams.

....


The entire paper can be read at:

http://www.sfu.ca/psyc/brown/pmt.pdf

This section on musical dreams and Ravel interests me as I find myself composing melodies in my head all the time. This serves to shut up my inner voice as I seem to be unable to talk in my head and compose at the same time.

4. The intense creativity of my musical dreams, complete with original
compositions and richly-orchestrated scores, highlights an important
contrast between what one can create in one’s mind and what one
can actually create and externalize in the world. A good case in point
is the composerMaurice Ravel who, as a result of a stroke at the end of
his life, developed expressive amusic symptoms, including an inability
to sing, play or notate new pieces (Alajouanine, 1948; Sergent,
1993).


As it turns out it has been suggested that Ravel's Bolero, composed toward the end of his life, may have been symptomatic of the composer's changing musical cognition as evidenced by the composition's repetitiveness.


Illness and death

During 1932, Ravel suffered a major blow to the head in a taxi accident. This injury was not considered serious at the time.[85] However, afterwards he began to experience aphasia-like symptoms and was frequently absent-minded.[86] He had begun work on music for a film, Adventures of Don Quixote (1933) from Miguel de Cervantes's celebrated novel, featuring the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin and directed by G. W. Pabst. When Ravel became unable to compose, and could not write down the musical ideas he heard in his mind, Pabst hired Jacques Ibert. However, three songs for baritone and orchestra that Ravel composed for the film were later published under the title Don Quichotte a Dulcinée, and have been performed and recorded.[85]

On April 8, 2008, the New York Times published an article suggesting Ravel may have been in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia during 1928, and this might account for the repetitive nature of Boléro.[87] This accords with an earlier article, published in a journal of neurology, that closely examines Ravel's clinical history and argues that his works Boléro and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand both indicate the impacts of neurological disease.[88] This is contradicted somewhat, however, by the earlier cited comments by Ravel about how he created the deliberately repetitious theme for Boléro.

During late 1937, Ravel consented to experimental brain surgery. One hemisphere of his brain was re-inflated with serous fluid. He awoke from the surgery, called for his brother Édouard, lapsed into a coma and died shortly afterwards at the age of 62. Ravel probably died as a result of a brain injury caused by the automobile accident and not from a brain tumor as some believe.[89] This confusion may arise because his friend George Gershwin had died from a brain tumor only five months earlier. Ravel was buried with his parents in a granite tomb at the cemetery at Levallois-Perret, a suburb of northwest Paris.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Ravel



Which put me in mind of Phillip Glass who has forged an entire career out of composing loopy/repetitive pieces that you either hate or love.



Personally I love Glass. His arrangements and constructions resonate with my inner neurotic/perpetual music track, which seems to jive with kellaris' theory about simplicity being a property of earwormy music. Not surprisingly I'm somewhat fond of George Winston as well.




But to get back to my 70's easy listening/soft rock childhood soundtrack I offer you the following selections that may not be my favorite pieces by these artists but never fail to get stuck in my head, sometimes for days. Beware, here be earworms:









Earworm genius

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Re: Earworms

Postby Cosmic Cowbell » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:17 pm

"There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil." ~ A.N. Whitehead
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Re: Earworms

Postby sunny » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:38 pm

Hmm, I wonder if my susceptibility to earworm music has anything to do with my claustrophobia? The first song I ever memorized:



Oh lordy...
Choose love
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Re: Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:35 pm

sunny wrote:Hmm, I wonder if my susceptibility to earworm music has anything to do with my claustrophobia? The first song I ever memorized:


Oh lordy...


Richard Carpenter is a dead ringer for an A Clockwork Orange era Malcolm Mcdowell in that viddy.

I guess we're all susceptible to pop hooks/melodies getting stuck on repeat on the mental playlist. I think it's probably true that not just repetitiveness but repetition is a factor. Like if I heard a song four hundred times in my life it's more likely to have left a deeper groove for my brain to get stuck in. I suppose it's all a matter of degree, just as claustrophobia is a matter of degree.

For my money, Karen Carpenter died of a broken heart, no matter what the autopsy said.



Strange that this woman who was adored by millions never felt loved or maybe it's not so strange at all.



Of course there are many other types of earworms, some of them much less welcome. One of the qualities of an earworm is that it is involuntary, like hiccups. You can't stop it. Actually, I don't find it that hard to get rid of an earworm and I'm never really bothered by one for that long unless I want to be. Although sometimes, like hiccups, you think you've exorcised the demon earworm only to have it return.
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Re: Earworms

Postby justdrew » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:42 pm

we must be about the same age - and I too listened to the radio to go to sleep from early on. wasn't too worried about monsters but needed the radio, started out with a little am/fm transistor radio. mainstream rock radio, more or less from birth in '69, finally stopped and went to sleep with no music from around 20 or so. Anyway the earworm thing's only ever been annoying for me rarely, and less so these days then before. Now they're easily stopped and started when the mood calls for it I guess.

of course some people just have ipods in at all times now instead.

I haven't seen this show in ages but this one's been a main earworm from time to time lately...

and this song...


many years ago this one was a common item...


check this...
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Re: Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:46 am

All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio what's new?
Radio, someone still loves you!

Repeat.....





All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is Radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio what's new?
Radio, someone still loves you!

Repeat.....


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"like a good neighbor..."

Postby IanEye » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:39 am

.

wouldn't you give your heart to a friend?
think of me as your friend...


eye remember what my father said
he said, "Son, life is simple. It's either charry red, or midnight blue..."

.
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By the dark of the moon eye planted

Postby IanEye » Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:05 am

this song used to scare me as a child:





:

E Emaj7 F#m repeat
|--12-12-------------11-11-------------9--9----------------|
|----9--9--------------9--9-------------10-10--------------|
|---------9-(let ring)------9-(let ring)------11-(let ring)|
|----------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------|

E Emaj7 F#m
She comes down from Yellow Mountain
E Emaj7 F#m
On a dark, flat land she rides
Amaj7 G#m
On a pony she named Wildfire
Amaj7 G#m
Whirlwind by her side
F#m G#m
On a cold Nebraska night.


Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killin' frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down its stall,
In a blizzard she was lost.

Amaj7 G#m
She ran calling Wild---fire,
Amaj7 G#m
Calling Wild---fire,
Amaj7 G#m F#m B Amaj7
Calling Wi----i----ld----fi----i----re.


E Emaj7 F#m
By the dark of the moon I planted
E Emaj7 F#m
But there came an early snow.
Amaj7 G#m
Been a hoot owl howlin' outside my window now,
Amaj7 G#m
For six nights in a row.
F#m G#m
She's comin' for me, I know
F#m G#m
And on Wildfire we're both gonna go.


We'll be ridin' Wildfire,
Ridin' Wildfire,
We'll be ridin' Wildfire
On Wildfire we're gonna ride,
Gonna leave sodbustin' behind.
Get these hard times right on out of our minds,
Ridin' Wildfire.


Here's how I play the chords. Your mileage may vary.

E Emaj7 F#m Amaj7 G#m B
x||||| x||||| |||||| x||||| |||||| x|||||
4|||ooo 4|||ooo oooooo |||||o 4oooooo |ooooo
||||o| |||||| |||||| 5||||o| |||||| ||||||
||o||| ||o||| |oo||| ||oo|| |oo||| ||ooo|
|o|||| |o|||| |||||| |||||| |||||| ||||||
43121 43111 134111 3421 134111 13331
.





and yet, this version got me through my divorce. I think it was because I was so scared then, and having these kids sing this song to me that scared me as a kid was the best way I could come up with to face my fears.
It was like my six year old self was telling my present day wreck of a self to just try and hold on.
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Re: By the dark of the moon eye planted

Postby justdrew » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:19 pm

IanEye wrote:this song used to scare me as a child:



ah yeah, that's one that ends up popping up at higher than normal frequency, good song, but yeah, it's so sad :tear

reminds me of this earwormy number, though it's not a "sad" song...



not linking but also:
LOBO- " ME AND YOU AND A DOG NAMED BOO"
Looking glass - Brandi you're a fine girl

and hey... nice funny hand made series about some of these sorts of songs...
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=yacht+rock
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Re: Earworms

Postby gerg » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:30 pm

Thanks brainpanhandler, now I finally have a word for it! I've always just said "can't get that song out of my head"

Very rarely do I not have a pop song, or random rhythm or looped snippet earworm.

But these two take the cake, as they have come and gone for as long as I can remember.



I guess I was around 4 or 5 when I had a TERRIFYING dream where I had to hide behind our living room furniture (red velvet with matching lamps btw, for real) from a Vampire that was rather famished. I couldn't scream, or move. No sound would come out of my mouth, I was paralyzed with fear. The chorus of this song was on an infinite loop during the whole dream and it still creeps me out to this day. Wasn't until years later that I made the connection to this song and the sound track from the 1979 movie "Love at First Bite". Which I guess was pretty fucking scary to a five year old.

But the WORST earworm I've ever had and still have to this day at times is this godforsaken piece of shit:



All it takes is one trip to the super market and it's locked in, and everyone else around me will have to hear me sing it until I can pass it off to them. :twisted:
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Re: Earworms

Postby Simulist » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:22 pm

I'm not sure if "earworms" refer only to music, or if they can also refer to words. If words can also be earworms, then the former head-worm himself provided a number of worm-ridden jewels. Among them:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." — George "Worm" Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Oh, and this one will live on in the annals of wormful astonishment:

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." — George Worm Bush, Greater Nashua, N.H., Jan. 27, 2000

But if it's only music we're talking about — even bad music that gets inside your head, and just won't get out — this nest of noxious notes had me itching to jab a pencil through my vestibular membrane, almost from the start:

"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."
    — Alan Watts
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Re: Earworms

Postby Cosmic Cowbell » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:35 pm

"There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil." ~ A.N. Whitehead
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Re: Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:55 pm

Simulist wrote: I'm not sure if "earworms" refer only to music, or if they can also refer to words. If words can also be earworms, then the former head-worm himself provided a number of worm-ridden jewels. Among them:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." — George "Worm" Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Oh, and this one will live on in the annals of wormful astonishment:

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." — George Worm Bush, Greater Nashua, N.H., Jan. 27, 2000


It's my understanding at this point that earworms do by defintion have some component of musicality to them and are not simply spoken words. I suppose if you could put the above quotes to music with a catchy melody of some sort they might metamorphose into earworms.


But if it's only music we're talking about — even bad music that gets inside your head, and just won't get out — this nest of noxious notes had me itching to jab a pencil through my vestibular membrane, almost from the start:


That is simply godawful and despite the despicable acts Ashcroft is guilty of that rendition of whatever the fuck that was might serve as the most definitive proof of his psychopathological status.

I mentioned James Kellaris in the op. I want to talk about him a little bit more. This is from an article for UC Magazine.

Kellaris is now taking an in-depth look at the survey data he has collected. Of the 1,000 respondents, the kind of music respondents said they got stuck on most recently were songs with lyrics for 73.7 percent, jingles or ads for 18.6 percent and an instrumental tune for 7.7 percent.
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Re: Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:00 pm

gerg wrote:Thanks brainpanhandler, now I finally have a word for it!


Here's some reading on the origins of the term from the Bearcastle Blog:

Earworm Origins

Deep down, I'd like to believe that I don't really care that much about priority and doing things first and getting proper credit and all that, but sometimes a matter comes along that is so supremely unimportant, so trivial and petty, that one can get a little irritated. This is one such story, and it concerns the widespread use, in English, of the word "earworm". Pay close attention.
The word would seem to have appeared in the popular lexicon relatively recently, on 29 October 2003, in the article "'Brain itch' keeps songs in the head". I don't know yet whether this is the word's first appearance in the popular English press, but the BBC seems to think that it's pretty new, given the way they describe it. Here's the lead from the article:

Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a "brain itch" that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over.

In Germany, this type of song is known as an "ohrwurm" – an earworm – and typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying.

Songs such as the Village People's YMCA, Los Del Rio's Macarena, and the Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out owe their success to their ability to create a "cognitive itch," according to Professor James Kellaris, of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration.

The description of the word is basically correct (even if one has issues with the presentation of the "research findings"), and you can easily track the word as it spreads through various blogs whose authors first learned about the idea from this BBC report.

...


More at link:

http://bearcastle.com/blog/?p=149

There's even a comment by Kellaris in the comments section.

Written by James Kellaris
on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 17.57
Permalink James Kellaris here – responding at the speed of academe! For the record, I never actually claimed to have "coined" the term earworm. An inaccurate report in the New York Times claimed that I coined the term, despite my explanation that I had merely borrowed a term already in use. Other vehicles picked up the story from the Times. I've since heard from countless, often irrate people, who naturally assumed the report to be accurate and me to be a fraud – on Schwindler's List as it were. Very sad. The pun, that is.

Journalism is about the facts. My research is about the truth. The difference is apparently one can fabricate facts under deadline pressure.

Also for the record – I submitted a correction to the wiki Earworm entry, but have not seen the correction posted yet. In addition to the the more serious inaccuracy, the article demoted me! I'm a bloody Professor-no-less; and academics at this lofty rank eat associate professors for breakfast!

Alors, donc, nice blog. I'd like to hear Oliver's piece sometime. I'm an amateur composer of non-earworm chamber music… self-administered music therapy I suppose.

Cheers!
- James

James J. Kellaris, PhD, blah, blah, blah
University of Cincinnati
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Re: Earworms

Postby brainpanhandler » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:19 pm

The musical earworm actually works more like a virus, attaching itself to a host and keeping itself alive by feeding off the host's memory. Nor does the earworm occur in the ear, as researchers at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, demonstrated in their study, Musical Imagery: Sound of Silence Activates Auditory Cortex.

The American philosopher Kenneth Burke once asked: "When a bit of talking is taking place, just what is doing the talking?" The Dartmouth researchers discovered that the talking is done by the auditory cortex, which perceives and stores our auditory memories. And it is the auditory cortex - the "brain's iPod" - that earworms chose as the centre of their activity.

"We found," says David Kraemer, a graduate student of cognitive science and the lead researcher on the Dartmouth study, "that the auditory cortex that is active when you're actually listening to a song was reactivated when you just imagine hearing the song."

At first, the researchers asked the study's 15 students to identify which songs were familiar or unfamiliar to them, thus developing an individualised playlist for each subject. The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction and the Beatles' Yellow Submarine were included among familiar songs with lyrics, and Beethoven's Ode to Joy and the theme from The Pink Panther among familiar instrumental tunes.

"When the subjects were in the MRI scanner, which we used to look at the brain activity, we played them parts of a song and then hit a mute button for three or five seconds," says Kraemer. "We didn't tell them that we were going to cut out the sound. For songs people were familiar with, they automatically put the missing part in there." The auditory cortex continued "singing". When listening to an unfamiliar song, the subjects didn't hear anything after the sound stopped. "They didn't try to continue the song," says Kraemer.

Emily Cross, also a graduate student at Dartmouth and one of the subjects of the study, says that with familiar songs it was as if "the brain was connecting the dots. You are not surprised when the song picks up, because you have been playing it all along in your head. With unfamiliar songs though, you either wait in silence or, if it's predictable enough, you make up the missing bits." After leaving the scanner, she noticed that the songs were spontaneously popping up in her head for quite a while.

This retrieval of auditory images -whether deliberate or spontaneous - appears to be "perception in reverse," says Kraemer. That is, the process follows the neural path that was involved in the actual perception, only backwards.



http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/jun/22/popandrock

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