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 Replies to “Some questions about music in the head”

  1. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    Robin

    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 experienceon demand instead of just once every few years?

    Personally, I’d likely use it rarely, if at all. As amazing as it was on some levels, it was also disturbing. It made me question my sanity.

  2. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: Personally,I’d likely use it rarely, if at all. As amazing as it was on some levels, it was also disturbing. It made me question my sanity.

    it is unnatural. Yet its only what it is. A function of the memory. Its known(memorized) music and not new creation. It could only be a issue of memory or rather triggering issue.
    Its common in “mental’ problems for music/voices/own thoughts to become dominating like music in the head we all experience.
    People who hear voices are just in the spectrum along with all of us.
    I suspect stress makes ‘noises’ in the head more then is diagnosed.
    Its all just steress. iN fact when i would canoe for days/nights i found early in the morning very irritating songs stuck in my head.
    Yet i knew it was from fear because of the water i was in and being early. it stopped as the morning went on.
    Many times it happened. my fear triggered the memory or rather made a over focusing which dragged with it down some song.
    Even though I loved what I was doing.
    Hearing songs in trhe head beyond the free will is proof positive the memory is great and its triggering mechanism is the origin for most issues of the mind. or all.

  3. Reciprocating Bill Reciprocating Bill
    Ignored
    says:

    Keiths

    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.

    I associate the occurrence of this and other equally dramatic hypnagogic experiences (e.g. fantastic visual experiences) with positive states, not illness. Specifically, I’ve meditated off and on throughout my life (mostly off, sad to say), and more frequent meditation clearly potentiates these experiences to some degree.

    I also wonder if some of the folly of my lost youth (courtesy Dr. Hofmann) has something to do with sensitivity to opportunities for such experiences. I find them quite interesting and positive and regard the relaxation and openness required somewhat voluntary and as a positive achievement.

    I’m sympathetic to reports of near death experiences in light of this – it’s the significance of those experiences I would dispute.

    With respect to mental music being in one’s own voice, I resonate (harmonize?) with that observation. There is a sense in which I “think” tunes, as well as hear them.

  4. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    And I think we’ve created the sub-genre, Heavy Mental Music.

  5. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Experi-mental. Environ-mental.

  6. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Reciprocating Bill,

    I also wonder if some of the folly of my lost youth (courtesy Dr. Hofmann) has something to do with sensitivity to opportunities for such experiences. I find them quite interesting and positive and regard the relaxation and openness required somewhat voluntary and as a positive achievement.

    It’s plausible, and there may even be therapeutic implications:

    Among the most fascinating aspects of drugs such as psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA is that the potential therapeutic benefits are not the result of taking a daily pill for months or years but rather can come from a single treatment lasting several hours ― yet described by many as being so intensely profound as to be life-changing.

    “In one recent study [of psilocybin], conducted at Johns Hopkins in normal volunteers, approximately 3 out of 4 participants described the experience as the single or top 5 most profoundly meaningful experience of their life,” said Stephen Ross, MD, director of addiction psychiatry, New York University (NYU) Tisch Hospital, and principal investigator on the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Project.

    “It is a tremendously interesting model that a single dose can have therapeutic utility for months. That is a novel development in mental health,” he told Medscape Medical News.

    RB:

    With respect to mental music being in one’s own voice, I resonate (harmonize?) with that observation. There is a sense in which I “think” tunes, as well as hear them.

    The way you phrased that is interesting. Are you saying that your (verbal) thoughts are always in your own voice, and that by extension when you “think” a tune, it is also in your own voice?

    I “hear” my own thoughts in a generic voice — male, but not mine. Songs are always in the singer’s voice. Neil Young is near-whining in my head right now.

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