Earworms

Heliotrop vua flickr creative commons by Don Burkett
heliotrope via flickr creative commons by Don Burkett

Old Tunes

As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,
Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;

So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,
Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.

But in the instant the airs remain
I know the laughter and the pain
Of times that will not come again.

I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,

But they float away — for who can hold
Youth, or perfume or the moon’s gold?

Sara Teasdale
Moonlight on the Water, via flickr RobW_'s photostream aka Robert Wallace (creative commons)
Moonlight on the Water, via flickr RobW_’s photostream aka Robert Wallace (creative commons)

Who knew Sara Teasdale wrote a poem about earworms?

I love this poem just for its inherent beauty, but also because it highlights a common (nearly constant) problem I have:  songs stuck in my head.  

I nearly ALWAYS have some sort of music running through my mind.  I think this is why I don’t often have a radio playing even when I am home alone:  I already have a station going in my head!

 

image from ComposerBase dot com

This week my inner song cycle has been full of choral music because I recently accompanied a high school choir concert.  I frequently have a mix of Broadway tunes and classic rock going, too, though.  Throw in a few children’s songs (I taught elementary music and children’s choir for several years), a few hymns (church organist and choir director), a few pop tunes (60′ to 80’s era mostly) and random other items from my iPod — and, well, you get the idea.

My least favorite thing to get caught in my head is some operatic aria that I don’t even know the words for (usually in a foreign language to boot).  This is a job hazard when I accompany voice students for their lessons and recitals — and it happens frequently.

One day, I was wondering how many people have this constant stream of music in their heads so I recently used my Facebook status to ask what my friends had playing in their heads.  It was quite a mix, but not many people replied.

As I looked into this phenomena, I discovered Vicky Williamson — a psychologist who researches and collects earworms.  She said, “It’s an interesting everyday phenomenon. It happens to at least 90 percent of people once a week, [they] get a tune stuck in their head.”  If you are interested, you may read the whole article here:  Why That Song Gets Stuck in Your Head.

Other articles about this topic:

I’m curious:  What is playing In YOUR head?

(Journey is a frequent camper in my head)

Don't stop believin'
Don’t stop believin’
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Sorrow into Song

English: Barley field, Ormiston Barley field b...
English: Barley field, Ormiston Barley field beside the railway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like barley bending
In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind
Ceaselessly;

Like barley bending
And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song.

–Sara Teasdale

English: A sea of barley at Budna.
English: A sea of barley at Budna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran across this poem by Sara Teasdale today.  The imagery is lovely and is very relevant to my life now.  I’m full of sorrow to be leaving my home of 17 years, but I’m determined to look forward — to turn my sorrow into song and to bend not break with this wind of change.

For some reason, I decided to search youtube for the poem.  I found this lovely song.  I found it very soothing to listen to the music and to the Chinese words.