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?
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!
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:
- http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/songs-stuck-in-head.htm This one gives a list of tips for trying to remove stuck songs from your head.
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9950143/Get-that-tune-out-of-your-head-scientists-find-how-to-get-rid-of-earworms.html This one gives a list of commonly stuck songs. (Read at your own risk!)
- http://www.livescience.com/32628-why-do-songs-get-stuck-in-your-head.html Names another researcher and gives a short explanation of how earworms get caught.
- http://unhearit.com/ And I quote:
“get that damn song out of your head”
wait….what? We created this site for those of you that have a song stuck in your head and you can’t get it out no matter what you do. Using the latest in reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology, we’ve been able to allow our users to “unhear” songs by hearing equally catchy songs. So really all we’re doing is making you forget your old song by replacing it with another one… sorry.
- http://www.uc.edu/news/kellaris.htm This article is from 2001 but the song titles listed are still toxic: “Warning! The song titles below this line may be hazardous to your sanity:”
I’m curious: What is playing In YOUR head?
(Journey is a frequent camper in my head)