23 nov. 2009

As a teenager I suffered from rather serious "ear worm," but it tended to be lines of poetry that got stuck in my head rather than music. The two worst cases were

"Jersey-Guernsey in sombre and illustrious weather," from a poem by André Breton, and the beginning of Pound's translation of "The Seafarer;"

'MayI for my own self song's truth reckon / journey's jargon. How I in harsh days / hardship endured oft."

I just could not get those out of my head for months at a time. I'm still prone to that, and today the line that got stuck is "Este que ves, engaño colorido" from a baroque sonnet by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. I have also had one or another movement of a Haydn quartet echoing through my head. If you asked me at any given moment what music was playing in my head, there would be something there. I cannot really shut it off. The most I can do is interrupt it for a moment or consciously switch to another tune. Since I am not a great musical intelligence I tend not to be able to play the whole movement through in my head, and I get frustratingly stuck on a few fragments.

One thing that help is to memorize a whole poem: then at least if I the first line pops into my head I know the rest of it.

1 comentario:

Vance Maverick dijo...

When your kid was small, were you plagued by unworthy earworms? "Peanut butter sandwich made with jam" -- or, in our case, Italian analogues (and yes, in the domain of children's music at least, there are Italian analogues to peanut butter).

FWIW, my understanding is that for the "great musical intelligences", the need to follow through and exorcise the earworms (whether endo- or exogenous) by completing them is a major stimulus to creation.