Composers have permanent ear worm syndrome

November 13, 2010

Most of us have experienced what Oliver Sachs refers to as an “ear worm”–a melodic fragment or phrase that gets stuck in your head and you can’t get it out. Composers experience this all the time when they work. The bleeding edge of the composition is always in our minds, the place we left off; it’s like interrupting a sentence mid-phrase, not resolving a particular chord, or even coitus interruptus. We can be having a perfectly civilized conversation with someone but behind the scenes we are planning our next move in our composition. it’s maddening, but part of the process.

Photo: Ernest Bloch, probably listening to an ear worm

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