You know how a certain part of a tune – a guitar lick, a refrain, a chorus – will get stuck in your head without rhyme or reason, circling round and round your synapses like a dust devil? One minute your mind could be totally empty, the next minute your consciousness is held hostage by a musical prison warden.
Well – science, in all its glory, has officially given this phenomenon a name. Researchers at Goldsmiths University in London have hereby labelled these song snippets ‘earworms’. They explain that:
Earworms which are a special type of musical imagery. An earworm is a short part of a tune that comes into your head and then repeats for a while, for anything from a few minutes to hours. It can have words or it can just be a melody or a rhythm. Earworms are generally very persistent and it can be difficult to make them stop! The experience of an earworm can be pleasant, unpleasant or move between the two over time.
There’s an interesting article over at the BBC today which documents their findings to date. But they’re still on the lookout for research subjects. Put all images of being held in a laboratory cage like one of those Ripley clones in that rubbish Alien sequel out of your mind – all it entails is filling in a simple questionnaire over at The Earwormery. What are the songs that you can’t get out of your head?