Monday, November 07, 2016

Do you get "stuck tune"?

Almost all of us do--you know, when a song gets in your head and repeats and repeats a phrase or two all day, like a "private screensaver," as one researcher put it.

The Germans call this an "ohr wurm"--ear worm.

What makes a song so "sticky"? Dr Kelly Jakubowski from the music dept at Durham University has made a large-scale study of this.

Sticky songs are usually faster with an easy-to-remember melody and some unique intervals.

Viz: Bad Romance (Lady Gaga), Don't Stop Believing (Journey), and Can't You Out of My Head (Kylie Minogue).

Tunes that stick also tend to have "common global melodic contours."

Country songs tend to have a simple "contour"---the first phrase rises in pitch, the second falls. As in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

My Sharona (Knack) and In The Mood (Glenn Miller) both had unusual interval structure--which makes them sticky.

How often the song is on the radio or high on the charts is also a major factor.

Ninety percent of us, the scientists say, get a tune stuck at leas once a week.

How can you shake an ear worm?

--Listen to the song all the way through.

--Distract yourself with a new song.

--Or wait for it to fade. It will...but another may take its place.

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