Some questions about music in the head

1.How many of you have a song or some other piece of music “playing” in your head, right now?

2. During roughly what percentage of your waking time do you have “mental music” playing (that is, when you’re not listening to an external source of music)?

3. How much voluntary control do you have over the music playing in your head?  If a song you don’t like starts to “play”, are you able to replace it with something you like better, or do you get stuck with “earworms” – songs that you can’t get rid of despite trying?

4. How “high-fidelity” is the music that plays in your head?  Do you hear all of the instruments and voices?  Do they sound the same as they do in the recording you are most familiar with?  (For example, if you heard the internal voice “in real life”, would you recognize the singer?)

6. Is your mental music faithful to the recording, or do you insert your own flourishes and improvisations?

7. Do you ever find a new song playing in your head, with no idea how it got there, only to realize in retrospect that some specific cue in your environment “triggered” it?  If so, can you think of examples?

8. Do you ever go to sleep with one song in your head and wake up with a completely different one “playing”?

9.  If there’s part of a song that you don’t like, can you “fast forward” through it mentally to get to the good stuff?

10. If you do frequently find music playing in your head, do you consider it a blessing, a curse, or does it depend on circumstances (and if so, which ones)?

I’ll offer my own answers tomorrow, but I’m very interested in hearing yours.

56 thoughts on “Some questions about music in the head

  1. 1: Not until I thought about it, then it started. I suspect it was already playing I just was not paying attention.
    2: Depends. If I’ve listened to a lot of music lately then 10-20% of the time. Otherwise, hardly at all. I can replace it just by thinking about something else.

    3: Not much. Sometimes if a line in a song I know is spoken in part, the tune just starts to play from that point. Which can be somewhat annoying in casual conversation.
    4: Fairly high-fidelity I guess. I find that if I’m “composing” it’s much higher-fidelity then just “replaying”. But at the same time remembering a tune is as much of a “shadow” as any memory is when compared to the event that caused it.
    One tip I’ve heard is to listen to each instrument/voice in turn, this brings out a different aspect to the music. So on that basis, you could have N “versions” of a song memorized. So I’d guess that many of the components are not present as they are not in that particular version.
    5: What happened to 5? 🙂
    6: Faithful. But as per 4 sometimes I’m not sure if I’m composing or remembering.
    7: The most common example for me is: I’ll mention to my partner I have some tune going, and she’ll say “me too” and it turns out that it was just on an advert on the TV that neither of us were playing any attention to and could not have recalled if asked. The rewind button demonstrates this.
    8: Probably, sometimes, but not usually. If anything, it’s the same one.
    9: No. There’s an version being recalled and that’s that. It might not reflect the actual song but it’s not under my control.
    10: Fairly neutral.

    Here’s something sort of relevant: http://labs.echonest.com/Uploader/index.html?trid=TRLMYSS139E7C79031
    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671283/the-infinite-jukebox-slices-your-favorite-song-into-a-seamless-endless-loop

  2. (1) (right now) – no.

    (2) (percentage) – zero

    (3) (self control) – complete, I guess. There’s only music when I am whistling it or clicking my tongue (resonating in mouth) or similar.

    (4)-(10) – not applicable, I would think.

  3. OMagain,

    3: Not much. Sometimes if a line in a song I know is spoken in part, the tune just starts to play from that point. Which can be somewhat annoying in casual conversation.

    That’s a good point, and it suggests a new question:

    11. When music is “playing” in your head, do you find it distracting? Does it make it harder to concentrate?

    I would add it to the OP, but we no longer have the ability to edit them. 🙁

  4. OMagain,

    4: Fairly high-fidelity I guess. I find that if I’m “composing” it’s much higher-fidelity then just “replaying”…

    6: Faithful. But as per 4 sometimes I’m not sure if I’m composing or remembering.

    So sometimes the music seems unfamiliar to you, but you can’t tell whether that’s a) because you’re composing it on the fly or b) because it’s a dimly remembered piece?

    If the on-the-fly compositions sound as good as the real thing, maybe you have a latent talent for composition! Have you tried composing?

  5. Neil,

    (1) (right now) – no.

    (2) (percentage) – zero

    (3) (self control) – complete, I guess. There’s only music when I am whistling it or clicking my tongue (resonating in mouth) or similar.

    Is that also true if someone asks you to “hear” a song, like “Happy Birthday”, in your head?

  6. keiths: So sometimes the music seems unfamiliar to you, but you can’t tell whether that’s a) because you’re composing it on the fly or b) because it’s a dimly remembered piece?

    Sometimes a complete classical piece just plays. I think ‘I must have heard this before’ mainly because I think can’t possibly be making it up on the fly. But perhaps I am.

    keiths: If the on-the-fly compositions sound as good as the real thing, maybe you have a latent talent for composition! Have you tried composing?

    I do seem to have some level of talent there. One particular anecdote is that I had to pass an afternoon in a studio and the people seemed surprised I could “just make music”. They sat around and planned songs in advance, which I found quite weird. I’ve had no formal training.

    Yes, I’d like to try composing actual music. I’ve written a lot of “noise” music in the past (electronic, samples, tape loops, random craziness), but nothing classical and my “mind-compositions” are almost always classical. I do listen to classical music on occasion, but not exclusively.

  7. 1. I don’t think at that instant.

    2. 25% – 50% of the time.

    3. Some voluntary control. I can sometimes substitute something I’d rather hear for an ear worm. At times I feel I can mentally compose music (probably based on extensive experience with piano improvisation.)

    4. Mid-fi, most of the time, although I have had sleep experiences that included spontaneous, original choral and orchestral elements grander than the grandest live performance or finest audio system.

    6. Either.

    7. Yes. but can’t think of an example at present.

    8. Not often.

    9. I think so – similar to substituting a preferred tune for an ear worm.

    10. Generally a blessing, sort of a soundtrack for my life. I take the stance that it is an autonomous cognitive module at work and like to see where it will go.

    Oliver Sacks recently write a book on music and the brain entitled “Musicophilia.” (haven’t read it, alas). Bet he has interesting anecdotes to tell with bearing on this topic.

  8. 1. yes
    2. about 20% of the time, when I want to or after recent exposure
    3. yes, pretty much complete control
    4. I’d say fairy close to the original, possibly with components I like emphasized?
    5. fairly close I think – but more snippets than full songs. I am big on middle eights apparently.
    6. I don’t think so.
    8. No
    9. I almost never get the full song – and my listening habits to real music tend to focus on the parts I like,
    10. Blessing.

  9. music in the head or a song stuck in our head is the sign of triggering issue in ones memory.
    It shows the power of our memory to play back to us something without us organizing it ourselves.
    i have found that when stressed I get a song stuck in my head and its very irritating and a bother. One must try tricks to get it out.
    In fact I think I remember from high school them telling us IF you ever experienced a song stuck in your head then you just experienced a minor moment of schizophrenia.
    In other words its all just a continuum of the memory going from forcing a unwanted to song to eventually unwanted conversation.

    In common use it would be that songs in the head would be accurately remembered relative to how much its from free will or the unfree memory action.
    If you sleep/wake up to music constantly then time to turn the radio off as the bible verse says “Be still and know I am the Lord”.

  10. I have not noticed this and I don’t seem to be able to switch it on consciously. When doing anything physical and repetitive, I tend to sing or whistle, badly, and apparently the effect on others is annoying. Bizarrely, when typing this, I began to hear Harry Belafonte singing “the banana boat song”. The power of suggestion?

  11. 1.How many of you have a song or some other piece of music “playing” in your head, right now?

    Didn’t.

    2. During roughly what percentage of your waking time do you have “mental music” playing (that is, when you’re not listening to an external source of music)?

    Not sure. Depends whether I’m alone or with people, watching TV, etc. If there are no other sounds around, maybe 10%-25%? But that’s just a guess.

    3. How much voluntary control do you have over the music playing in your head? If a song you don’t like starts to “play”, are you able to replace it with something you like better, or do you get stuck with “earworms” – songs that you can’t get rid of despite trying?

    I can generally switch, but sometimes it’s hard work. (I use the opening of Brahms’ 4th for this.)

    4. How “high-fidelity” is the music that plays in your head? Do you hear all of the instruments and voices? Do they sound the same as they do in the recording you are most familiar with? (For example, if you heard the internal voice “in real life”, would you recognize the singer?)

    Very low fidelity. Almost no details.

    6. Is your mental music faithful to the recording, or do you insert your own flourishes and improvisations?

    Not faithful.

    7. Do you ever find a new song playing in your head, with no idea how it got there, only to realize in retrospect that some specific cue in your environment “triggered” it? If so, can you think of examples?

    Yes. Yes.

    8. Do you ever go to sleep with one song in your head and wake up with a completely different one “playing”?

    Not that I can remember.

    9. If there’s part of a song that you don’t like, can you “fast forward” through it mentally to get to the good stuff?

    I’m pretty sure I could, if I could remember the part I liked without needing to transition there from the stuff that’s in my head.

    10. If you do frequently find music playing in your head, do you consider it a blessing, a curse, or does it depend on circumstances (and if so, which ones)?

    I normally don’t like it.

  12. I’d like to ask a couple of related questions.

    When you “hear” music in your head, is the experience different from hearing it when it’s actually playing outside your head?

    If it’s different, how different? In what way? In what way is it hearing?

    I would describe myself as able to experience music in my memory, but I would not say I hear it. I experience the melody, and depending on the piece and how recently I’ve heard it, I can experience the timbre and orchestration. I can distinctly experience the instrumental sound.

    Most of my experience is with recorded classical music, and I can experience some favorite recordings in enough detail to distinguish one conductor’s interpretation from another’s.

    I have no reason to doubt that some ;gifted individuals have had a much greater ability to experience music in their heads. Including the ability to compose complex and lengthy pieces, and the ability to remember and transcribe other people’s works from a single hearing. Beethoven wrote most of his most complex pieces while he was deaf.

    I can recall as a young child being asked to close my eyes and see something in my imagination. I was something of a bratty kid, and I always insisted I could not see with my eyes closed. I think, however, that I have at least an average ability to “visualize.” I can remember navigation situations as well as most and use visualization when giving travel directions. I would not call it seeing. Another word is needed.

    As an aside, I think neuroscience suggests that internal seeing and hearing involve most of the same neurons as actual seeing and hearing. I suspect some people have much more vivid imaginings than I do. I have had one very brief moment of seeing a remembered experience. A second or two of seeing that was indistinguishable from the original experience.

    My dreams are fairly vivid.

  13. Reciprocating Bill,

    4. Mid-fi, most of the time, although I have had sleep experiences that included spontaneous, original choral and orchestral elements grander than the grandest live performance or finest audio system.

    By “sleep experiences” do you mean dreams, or do these experiences occur as you are falling asleep or waking up?

  14. Rich,

    5. fairly close I think – but more snippets than full songs. I am big on middle eights apparently.

    I know what you mean. The middle eights are often the best part.

  15. I’d like to ask a couple of related questions.

    When you “hear” music in your head, is the experience different from hearing it when it’s actually playing outside your head?

    Yes, much different.

    If it’s different, how different? In what way? In what way is it hearing?

    Usually much less “sensuous.”

    FWIW, I have a lot of trouble with visual imagery, and have a terrible sense of direction. I once read a piece by Mary McGrory in the Washington Post in which she talked about being embarrassed that she was often so lost in the White House even after working there for many years. I’ve had the same experiences many times. I often can’t remember how to go someplace I’ve been hundreds of times. One of my brothers can drive to somebody’s house in a city he’s never been to once, and be able to retrace those steps decades later. I can’t describe the layout of the rooms in the house I’ve lived in for 20 years, and, when looking at it from the outside, don’t know which windows go to which rooms. I think I could get lost in a bathroom. When I’m on a train, if it stops for a second, I’m often not sure which direction it will go when it resumes.

    I did write a lot of music at one time, but I used keyboards, and had difficulty telling what something sounded like just looking at scores. I can’t really either hear or see things in my head very well. I have a lot of trouble visualizing even my daughters and my parents.

    In sum, I think my experience of reality is generally a little on the “thin” side.

  16. I’m more of a kinesthetic thinker. If I have to give directions, I find it easier to recall how I moved when going there myself. I do not easily translate maps into directions, nor is it easy to translate memory of going somewhere into a drawing.

    I set my GPS to 3D mode, which shows the path ahead rather than a schematic.

  17. I would have to argue that dreaming can involve seeing and hearing in your head, and I’m not sure there is any huge difference between dreaming an hallucinating. The underlying brain structures would be thee same.

    Hallucinations imply some temporary or permanent failure in some mechanism that would normally censor the imagination.

    But to respond partially to the OP, I think some great composers could hear music at will, either by remembering or by composing.

  18. walto,

    I can’t really either hear or see things in my head very well. I have a lot of trouble visualizing even my daughters and my parents.

    Was that true during your childhood, also? I remember my childhood visualizations as being more vivid and accurate than the ones I can conjure up now — and that, despite the fact that my engineering work requires a lot of non-linguistic, visual thinking.

  19. Robert Byers:

    If you sleep/wake up to music constantly then time to turn the radio off as the bible verse says “Be still and know I am the Lord”.

    For a lot of believers, musical experiences are among the times they feel closest to God. Hence the ubiquity of music in churches.

  20. Alan,

    Bizarrely, when typing this, I began to hear Harry Belafonte singing “the banana boat song”. The power of suggestion?

    🙂 Is it still there?

  21. keiths:
    walto,

    Was that true during your childhood, also?I remember my childhood visualizations as being more vivid and accurate than the ones I can conjure up now — and that, despite the fact that my engineering work requires a lot of non-linguistic, visual thinking.

    I think my memories are a bit more like “concepts” or “abstractions” now – they work at a very low resolution.

  22. petrushka,

    When you “hear” music in your head, is the experience different from hearing it when it’s actually playing outside your head?

    Yes. I’m aware that the sound isn’t really there and that my ears aren’t involved, but otherwise the experiences are quite similar, with comparable fidelity.

    On the other hand, I once experienced an auditory hallucination during a high fever — music so beautiful that I would gladly endure the sickness again in order to hear it a second time. Maddeningly, I can’t remember the music at all. I don’t know whether it would sound beautiful to me now, or if my musical beauty assessor was on the fritz due to the fever.

    Anyway, had I not been suspicious of my brain due to the fever, I would have sworn that I was actually hearing the music.

  23. keiths: On the other hand, I once experienced an auditory hallucination during a high fever

    I will repeat myself. The brain structures involved in imaginary hearing will be the same ones used in actual hearing. So in a sense, we are hearing in our head.

    It’s an interesting problem for neuroscience.

    I have little doubt that some people can see and hear pretty much at will, and pretty much with the same intensity as seeing and hearing “real” phenomena. If they are productive artists or composers, we call them geniuses. If they are nuisances, we call them insane.

  24. petrushka,

    I will repeat myself. The brain structures involved in imaginary hearing will be the same ones used in actual hearing. So in a sense, we are hearing in our head.

    There’s a huge overlap, no question, and this is confirmed by brain imaging studies in which “music in the head” (technical term: “audiation”) is accompanied by activity in the auditory cortex.

    However, the brain structures can’t be exactly the same, since we can reliably tell the difference between audiation and actual hearing. I mentioned my auditory hallucination above as a notable exception to the general rule.

  25. keiths:
    walto,

    Was that true during your childhood, also?I remember my childhood visualizations as being more vivid and accurate than the ones I can conjure up now — and that, despite the fact that my engineering work requires a lot of non-linguistic, visual thinking.

    Not sure. maybe my capacity to visualize was a smidge better when I was a kid, but it was always pretty bad, I think.

  26. keiths:
    Robert Byers:

    For a lot of believers, musical experiences are among the times they feel closest to God.Hence the ubiquity of music in churches.

    It’s all about emotion.

  27. My combined answer to questions #3 and #7:

    If I don’t like what’s playing in my head, I can easily replace it with something better, so I have good control in that sense. However, the flip side of that is that the environment can also very easily displace whatever it is I’m hearing and replace it with something else.

    Sometimes the triggers are fairly obvious. Any emphasis on the word ‘anticipation’ will trigger Carly Simon. When I wrote the OP, I had the Gipsy Kings’ Habla Me playing, almost certainly because I had just been practicing my Spanish in the car. When I see the CD cover for Ry Cooder’s I, Flathead lying around the house, I start hearing not Ry Cooder, but the irresistible song Flathead by the Fratellis.

    Sometimes the triggers are a bit less obvious. I woke up yesterday hearing It Never Rains in Southern California, presumably because I’d been thinking (or dreaming) about the drought. I get reminded of it every time I walk past my brown lawn.

    Once I had “Rock the Casbah” going through my head for no apparent reason. I finally figured out that I had right-clicked on the taskbar a couple of minutes earlier, and one of the menu options is “Lock the taskbar”. My subconscious had picked up on the rhyme: lock the taskbar, rock the casbah. Having noticed the connection, it’s now inevitable; right-clicking on the taskbar and seeing that menu will always trigger that song.

  28. keiths:
    Robert Byers:

    For a lot of believers, musical experiences are among the times they feel closest to God.Hence the ubiquity of music in churches.

    music is simply getting ideas into the heart more firmly.
    So religious ideas being important it must be that music is involved.
    Music is nothing more then ideas. Music simply mimics human tones of voice which are representing ideas.
    Remember Darwins friend herbert spencer. music is the language of emotion he said.

  29. keiths:
    petrushka,

    Yes.I’m aware that the sound isn’t really there and that my ears aren’t involved, but otherwise the experiences are quite similar, with comparable fidelity.

    On the other hand, I once experienced an auditory hallucination during a high fever — music so beautiful that I would gladly endure the sickness again in order to hear it a second time.Maddeningly, I can’t remember the music at all. I don’t know whether it would sound beautiful to me now, or if my musical beauty assessor was on the fritz due to the fever.

    Anyway, had I not been suspicious of my brain due to the fever, I would have sworn that I was actually hearing the music.

    As another poster said there is no difference from a fake song and a real one in our head.
    During a fever or anything easily the memory can be triggered and there is a song jUST as clear as if listening to it. YES.
    This because we don’t ever hear songs. We only observe by using our memories what is received from our ears. So hearing songs in our head is simply a manifestation of how all hearing works.
    its impossible that there is any difference between hearing a song or hearing it in our head or dreaming a song.
    Its all soul observation of memory. its impossible for the soul to hear the natural world.

  30. Alan Fox: It’s all about emotion.

    No. There is no such thing as emotion. tHere are only thoughts. A lingering though is simply called a emotion. The bible never says there are emotions
    The “emotion” simply reflects how deeply some thought is on some soul at that moment.
    music mimics tones of voice and the tones are what press home/emphasize a thought.
    In everyday speech people use their tones more then words. More effective .
    Singing , although a stretching of words, is actually just to also get a tone embracing the word(s).Special case.

  31. Keiths:

    By “sleep experiences” do you mean dreams, or do these experiences occur as you are falling asleep or waking up?

    I’m referring to exceptionally vivid hypnagogic musical experiences, typically while falling asleep, or shortly afterward. Overwhelming, stereophonic choirs of voice and instrumentation with what seems to be a very high, symphonic level of musical structure, lasting maybe a minute or two. However, unlike other hypnagogic experiences, which tend to volatilize as soon they occur and can’t be described or recalled, these are memorable. Clearly not REM sleep. This is not a common experience for me, however – it has occurred once every few years, at best.

    However, last night I experienced a fairly vivid dream (clearly REM sleep) in which I found myself in possession of an upright piano. I didn’t much like the action (it felt “shallow”) but found myself skillfully playing/improvising a kind of ragtime theme with considerable skillful ornamentation as a few others listened. It was detailed, effortless and original. I can’t actually play in that style.

    I also often dream that I can play, like a piano, flat surfaces like a table top, with additional musical modulation available by striking the table (or whatever) different distances vertically as well as horizontally.

  32. petrushka: I will repeat myself. The brain structures involved in imaginary hearing will be the same ones used in actual hearing. So in a sense, we are hearing in our head.

    It’s an interesting problem for neuroscience.

    I have little doubt that some people can see and hear pretty much at will, and pretty much with the same intensity as seeing and hearing “real” phenomena. If they are productive artists or composers, we call them geniuses. If they are nuisances, we call them insane.

    Its not a problem for accurate investigation.
    Yes its the same mechanism. No its not brain structures but instead memory operation.
    Hearinmg in the head is exactly the same thing as hearing with the ear.
    It shows we/soul simply read a recording/memory .
    We have never heard anything in the natural world in reality. We only observe memories of sounds. So hearing a song in the head is just showing how the mechanism works.
    its not complicated.
    Rather it shows a denial of man as actually souls that can’t observe the natural world. so we have a middleman.
    If this evolutionist presumption was not in the way I think better conclusions would be made. Indeed I think healing of mental problems would be greater advanced.

  33. Robert Byers: No. There is no such thing as emotion.

    That suggestion really pisses me off–though, admittedly, for a moment, it cheered me.

    By the way, Robert, does the Bible say there are turf fields for soccer? I’ve been wondering what the Bible’s stand is on the grass v. turf debate. Oh, and granola–With or without almonds? Thanks.

  34. walto: By the way, Robert, does the Bible say there are turf fields for soccer? I’ve been wondering what the Bible’s stand is on the grass v. turf debate. Oh, and granola–With or without almonds? Thanks.

    Well, there’s nothing in the Bible that supports mind-body dualism, and that doesn’t stop anyone.

  35. And there IS stuff in the Bible in favor of community (rather than private) land ownership. That doesn’t seem to affect anyone either.

  36. KN,

    Well, there’s nothing in the Bible that supports mind-body dualism, and that doesn’t stop anyone.

    Jesus’s statement to the thief — “today you will be with me in paradise” — is a pretty unambiguous endorsement of mind-body dualism, since Jesus’s body wasn’t going anywhere for another three days.

  37. Reciprocating Bill,

    I’m referring to exceptionally vivid hypnagogic musical experiences, typically while falling asleep, or shortly afterward. Overwhelming, stereophonic choirs of voice and instrumentation with what seems to be a very high, symphonic level of musical structure, lasting maybe a minute or two.

    I’ve read many accounts of people suddenly developing artistic (including musical) talents following brain injuries. It seems implausible that the injury actually creates the talent, so I’ve always suspected that the talent is latent and that the injuries are knocking out a part of the brain that normally inhibits the full expression of that talent.

    This is pure speculation, but something like that might explain your hypnagogic experiences. Regions of the brain are shutting down as you fall asleep, and if the order of shutdown varies from day to day, there might be occasions when a talent is suddenly loosed because the brain region that normally inhibits it “goes to sleep” before the region in which the talent is centered.

  38. Reciprocating Bill:
    Keiths:

    I’m referring to exceptionally vivid hypnagogic musical experiences, typically while falling asleep, or shortly afterward. Overwhelming, stereophonic choirs of voice and instrumentation with what seems to be a very high, symphonic level of musical structure, lasting maybe a minute or two. However, unlike other hypnagogic experiences, which tend to volatilize as soon they occur and can’t be described or recalled, these are memorable. Clearly not REM sleep. This is not a common experience for me, however – it has occurred once every few years, at best.

    I once had a most unusual (or what I thought was a most unusual) experience along these lines. I had been admitted to the hospital having just rejected my 3rd kidney and I was in a terrible state. I felt really, really frustrated and sad and generally sorry for myself. And in particular, very alone. The doctors had just left after giving me the news and the room was very quiet except for the sounds of me moping. I then began to hear, or thought I heard, music playing very quietly in the room. I wiped my eyes and looked around the room because it really sounded like there was a radio playing quietly. The sound got louder and I realized it was Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better”. And as I sat there it reached concert quality. It was so loud that I felt the drum beats and the brass sounds pressing against my chest. I was in an utter state of awe because it was crystal clear, yet it was coming from absolutely no source in the room. I could not break in on it or change it. And in fact, I could think other thoughts straight through the whole thing, but it just kept playing, with no interruptions, no stutters, or anything like that. The song played about six times straight through and then faded out.

    I’ve never had another experience like that since. Kind of wish it would happen with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” or maybe “Wish You Were Here”.

  39. Robin,

    If someone could figure out how to reliably trigger experiences of the kind that you and ReBill describe, I’ll bet they’d make some serious money.

  40. 4. How “high-fidelity” is the music that plays in your head? Do you hear all of the instruments and voices? Do they sound the same as they do in the recording you are most familiar with? (For example, if you heard the internal voice “in real life”, would you recognize the singer?)

    When I asked a friend this question, he told me that he hears every song in his own voice, as if he were singing it to himself. What a nightmare.

  41. While I have a clear difference between hearing and remembered hearing, I have a very good memory for voices and instrumental timbre. What would be useful, but which I lack, is the ability to recall or rehear entire songs or pieces. What I experience is snatches, usually not more than 30 seconds or so. I would describe them as rather hifi.

  42. petrushka,

    What would be useful, but which I lack, is the ability to recall or rehear entire songs or pieces. What I experience is snatches, usually not more than 30 seconds or so. I would describe them as rather hifi.

    What happens when you get to the end of one of those snatches? Does it repeat, or does the music just end?

  43. I would describe the experience as grainy. I have quite a bit of control over the selection of what I hear, but generally the fine detail is fuzzy. Sometimes the words come across as la la la, but the voice is absolutely distinctly the original. I can tell if the pitch or key has changed in a recorded playback, or if the instruments or arrangement have changed.

    I cannot name notes or keys, but I can start a song on pitch without help. I can tell if a violin is in tune.

  44. keiths:
    Robin,

    If someone could figure out how to reliably trigger experiences of the kind that you and ReBill describe, I’ll bet they’d make some serious money.

    Sure, but then we’d all get sued by the music industry for hallucinating their intellectual property…

    On a more serious note though, mine was triggered by illness and stress. Real. Serious. Illness. And. Stress. Even if you could duplicate it, would you really want to?

  45. petrushka,

    I meant, what typically happens when you get to the end of one of those roughly 30-second snatches of music? Does it repeat itself? Does another snatch of music play? Or does the music just stop?

  46. Robin,

    Sure, but then we’d all get sued by the music industry for hallucinating their intellectual property…

    It’s okay as long as you buy the song that you’re hallucinating. You don’t have to pay royalties each time you hallucinate it.

    On a more serious note though, mine was triggered by illness and stress. Real. Serious. Illness. And. Stress. Even if you could duplicate it, would you really want to?

    Not the illness and stress, of course! The vivid, concert-quality music.

    What if you could re-experience music like that without the harrowing illness, the stress, or the despair? What if I could repeat my hallucination without a dangerously high fever, or RB could enjoy his experience on demand instead of just once every few years?

  47. There are earworms that loop. Sometimes annoyingly. But generally my auditory memories just skip around like highlight reels.

Leave a Reply