Coping: With Earworms (Ohrwurms)

Have you lost your frigging mind?  What is an Earworm?”

Ah…well for no particular reason, every so often when my brain is working on various projects, I do get the occasional ohrwurm.  Song you can’t get out of your head that just shows up for no obvious reason…

This morning’s was the Christmasy song “O Tannenbaum.”

Not everyone thinks about ohrwurms….they just come and go. 

Like last week, because I was spending a lot of time over in the house (instead of out here in the office doing real work, thanks to the flu) Elaine and I had a ‘dumb music’ festival that we’d planned to surprise G2 with during his recent visit. 

We played such memorable hits as “Does your chewing gum lose it’s flavor on the bedpost overnight” and “One-eyed, one-horned, flying Purple People Eater…”   Songs you hate but can’t get out of your head.

Which ought to set off more than a few ohrwurms in the over-60 set, fo’ sho.

Oh, it’s a legit thing, this ohrwurm thing, says Wikipedia:

An earworm is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.[1] Phrases used to describe an earworm include musical imagery repetition, involuntary musical imagery, and stuck song syndrome.[2][3][4] The word earworm is a calque from the German Ohrwurm.[5]

Researchers who have studied and written about the phenomenon include Theodor Reik,[6] Sean Bennett,[7] Oliver Sacks,[4] Daniel Levitin,[8] James Kellaris,[9] Philip Beaman,[10] Vicky Williamson,[11] and, in a more theoretical perspective, Peter Szendy.[12] The phenomenon is common and should not be confused with palinacousis, a rare medical condition caused by damage to the temporal lobe of the brain that results in auditory hallucinations.[13]

All of which led to the first conscious thinking of the day.

I trust you know that  your brain has multiple memory types. In other words, I’m one of those people with semi-eidetic memory,  It’s a skill that most people have – to one degree, or another – but like so many capabilities of mind, it only works on two conditions:

1.  You have to give yourself PERMISSION to have a nearly flawless memory.  If you are bundled up in tension and self-doubt, your mind will provide exactly what you expect of it.  So, step one to a memory is to simply CLAIM it.

This has amazing implications in school and learning later in life, and if was while working on this improved memory stuff, that I came across my “everything is a recipe” method for learning highly complete material quickly.  (Another story for another day…)

2.  the second thing you have to do is use it.  Which seems obvious, except that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Go watch a lot of episodes of the BBC version of Sherlock (or the American series Elementary) and you’ll see that having an ability to process/recall huge amounts of information can also be a curse.

Which – at least as far as personal observation goes –  is why many really, really smart people over-indulge in either booze or drugs.  It’s a way of “turning off the damn machine” in your head now and then.  Sometimes it can be a major battle lasting through large parts of people’s lives to get a proper relationship going between the different levels of personality…machine on, machine off…but again, another topic for another day.

OK, first point was what?  That when you start actually using more of your brain than the “room temp IQ people” you find that complex…..everything…..becomes fairly simple.  It always has a recipe under it somewhere, and once you have the underlying rule set nailed, then learning anything is simple as pi.  (To a bunch of places…)

Second point is that as you begin to develop your (much higher than you’re trained to believe you have) mental abilities, you begin to recall other than pictograph or linguistic symbols.

You will find, for example, that you can recall (and play back perfectly, in your head) whole complete pieces of music without the need for an iWhatever and ear buds.

What’s more, you can change the music on the fly to whatever suits your mood.

Of course, this is not something in the way of commonly told (or discussed) mental capabilities because (for one) it would wreck the iWhatevering business.  CVan’t have too many empowered people around, now, can we?  Why, having people figure out that they can play back music in their heads, well, that’s quite a dirty secret.

And, besides, there are some aspects of iWhatevering that are superior to what most people can recall, because there’s the problem of the bass line.  And has a mental/physiological basis.

Key Point: Think of your mind as a constantly running multi-track recorder.  Except that the only thing our little 18-track here at the ranch all we can capture is sound.  The distinction is that the multi-track personal mental recorder (PMR) that is constantly running in your head is actually recording different “sensory tracks” and that makes certain kinds of “perfect playback” of music quite difficult.

The reason for this is clear when you consider body neurological inputs:  The track of your PMR (personal mental recorder, remember?) that is capturing music you like is only going to capture it from the regular aural track.  Your ears, in other words.

Lindos4.svgAnd, since you haven’t spent much time yet, allowing yourself to have a perfect PMR (should I be telling you this shit?) playback, you will only be playing back the audio channel and that (plus or minus the Fletcher-Munson curve, right) is going to roll off around 300 Hz on the low end.

I assume you know that most people can only reliably tell the difference between sound levels of about 6 decibels?  Young people, or old pharts who work a lot of ham radio Morse code under appalling noise conditions can get into the 3-4 dB range, but you see the problem, of course?

No?  Jeez…

The point is that the sound playback on the low end of playback of your PMR transitions quickly below 300 Hz from being an aural track playback to being a muscle memory or tactile input playback.

This is why, when you’re trying to remember the kick-ass concert by Fiddy-Cent, that chest-shattering bass line isn’t coming through.  It’s because you didn’t do a good job capturing the tactile/vibration track in perfect synch with the PMR audio track picked off your ears.  You can play it back, but learning to mix in your head takes practice.

The good news?  You can get really good at improving the caliber of your PMR’s performance my merely devoting some time to “building a mental music library” of your choosing.  Like in my head, I can play back Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage any time I want.

No need for YouTube, not paying music royalties, never runs out of batteries, and I can play back a pretty good collection of great Jazz, but I keep adding to it.  At the moment Keith Jarrett’s performances are being think-loaded.  It’s a freaking blessing in boring meetings.  I can turn on some smooth jazz and relax…

This leaning to use your built-in Personal Mental Recorder could prove vital in the event that we carry, from this life, memories into the Big Sleep and whatever comes after death.  I might enjoy playing back some Diana Krall (“Departure Bay”) once in a while.  But since only the things in your mind survive, you need to do a really good job of recording it.

And so that’s where the whole audiophile thing arises from, except most people who are true aficionados of music may not be conscious of why they listen to the same songs over and over again, with different treble, bass, and mid-range EQ settings.  I expect that when you get to know these people, you’ll find they are a little smarter, a little more defining.  this is how they upload music into their LTM (long term memory…a kind of memory card of the mind).

They are adding “tracks” to their mental inventory for future playback.  They are recording the bass, then the kick drum (or the whole drum kit) and then the horns…well, you got the idea.  then they track this with the best visuals (peak experience) of seeing something like a Dead concert.  After after-lifing, huh?  Never was too fond of harps…

Once a piece of music “in there” they can be perfectly satisfied turning off the high-end stereo or quad gear, secure in the knowledge that they can play back perfect music – in their head – any time.

OK, enough.  A bit far afield from “O Tannenbaum” and I’m not sure why that song popped into my head this morning, except maybe I was supposed to mention your brain’s ability to do a better job of noise reduction than Dolby and has frequency response all the way up to light.

Research time:  About O Tannebaum, says Wikipedia:

The modern lyrics were written in 1824 by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz. A Tannenbaum is a fir tree. The lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas, or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.[1]

Anschütz based his text on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck, “Ach Tannenbaum”. Joachim August Zarnack (de) (1777–1827) in 1819 wrote a tragic love song inspired by this folk song, taking the evergreen, “faithful” fir tree as contrasting with a faithless lover. The folk song first became associated with Christmas with Anschütz, who added two verses of his own to the first, traditional verse. The custom of the Christmas tree developed in the course of the 19th century, and the song came to be seen as a Christmas carol. Anschütz’s version still had treu (true, faithful) as the adjective describing the fir’s leaves (needles), harking back to the contrast to the faithless maiden of the folk song. This was changed to grün (green) at some point in the 20th century, after the song had come to be associated with Christmas…

So maybe just a vibe floating around down in the archetypes, so we will focus a bit on news from Germany today:  The name Anschutz, fir trees, the area 100 miles south of Berlin, and the color green could become meaningful.

Or, we just were supposed to have a chat about ”mental playlists.”  No lithium batteries in the afterlife, you know…so keep that PMR running…and collect all the Best Performances you can find in all aspects of life.

My bathroom scale told me I could back off a bit on recording taste bud tracks, lol…

Born Liar?

As long as I’ve gone and turned this into “mental Tuesday” there’s a book I want you to read:  59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute.

A key example is finding out if you’re a good liar, or not.

Here’s how you can tell:  Take the index finger of your dominant hand and draw the letter Q on your forehead.

That’s it.  Did you do it yet?

Now go watch the video here:

Write when you break even…