Earworm melodies

Earworm Melodies: More Info About What They Are and Why They Plague Us

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An earworm is a tune (often a fragment of a tune) that gets stuck in our minds and repeats itself seemingly endlessly. They’re not typically spoken of in positive terms. It may seem like you’ve written something great when you manage to write an earworm, but most of the time, people complain about the negative aspects of getting a melody stuck in your head.

There is a lot of research now into earworms. Most researchers now tend to understand them as a phenomenon that requires certain characteristics to be present in the music, but also requiring a particular psychological make up in the listener. Most people are susceptible to them, with the good news being that if you’re currently battling an earworm, it will go away eventually.

Back in July of last year, the BBC podcast “CrowdScience” — which devotes entire episodes to answering a chosen question by a listener — published a podcast that attempted to answer the question “How and why do we have songs and music going around in our head? What qualities determine the catchiness, are these qualities universal, or does catchiness vary from one person to another?”

In the podcast, they describe the qualities of earworms and song hooks, and what makes a fragment of music more likely to become an earworm. One of their guests makes the case that a bit of “earworminess” can be a good thing in the songwriting world.

I’d encourage you to give this episode a listen — you’ll find it very interesting:

Why is this song stuck in my head?

Gary EwerWritten by Gary EwerFollow Gary on Twitter

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