Those of you who have been following my blog for quite some time will know that I spend most of my time in schools with children and young people with Autsim Spectrum Conditions (ASC). This week is no exception. I have spent most of this week with a child who is obsessed with Peppa Pig. I figured that I have to utilise this obsession and use Peppa Pig games and videos as rewards for good work and good behaviour.
My plan worked fantastically! My new little friend has developed a liking for his one-to-one time with me because I was strict but fair. My expectations and rules did not change for the whole week, but my rewards were also consistent- one ‘decent’ piece of work equals 10 minutes of ‘choice time’. I gave my student a choice between playing an iPad game or watching any Peppa Pig Youtube clip. For the whole week, he always opted for the second option. In addition, he always chose the same video- Peppa Pig’s The Bing Bong Song. As a result, this song has been stuck in my head and I have been singing it on repeat since Wednesday afternoon.
Whether it’s Carly Rae Jespen’s Call Me Maybe, Nickelback’s How You Remind Me, or Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger, we all had a song or two that has been stuck in our heads for a while and we don’t quite know why. Such an experience is called ‘Earworm’, a term which is a direct translation of the German word ‘Ohrwurm’.It has been found that around 90% of the population have had such an experience at least once a week. Earworms have been found to last between a few minutes to a couple of hours (Beaman & Williams, 2010). Although it is a common experience, around 15% of people claimed that Earworms are ‘disturbing’ and ‘unpleasant’ (Liikkanen, 2008).
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Although there isn’t a definitive theory which can explain why how songs get stuck in our heads, there have been a few suggestions:
Exposure: Some have proposed that songs/tunes are more memorable than others because we’ve listened to them a lot of times. However, a research by Victoria Williamson and her colleagues (Williamson et al., 2011) found that listening to a song is not a necessary pre-requisite for a song ‘worm-into’ our brains. Their findings suggest that being exposed to a stimuli which are (sometimes vaguely) related to a song can induce an Earworm. For instance, reading a number plate with the letters CMM can lead to remembering Call Me Maybe.
Memories: Being in the same place where you’ve heard a song can be enough to trigger an experience.
Mood: Williamson et al.’s findings also suggest that being in the same mood as you were when you first heard a song can also trigger Earworms.
Boredom: The same study have also found that in some cases, Earworms begun when people were bored or in a ‘low-attention state’.
HOW CAN I STOP IT?
Now that we know the possible reasons why an Earworm manifests, we must know of any strategies of stopping it. In a research conducted by Hyman et al. (2012), participants were asked to listen to a variety of songs, from those of the Beatles to current ones like Lady Gaga’s. They then completed a number of different puzzles, with varying difficulties. After these, they were asked to report whether there are any songs that are playing on their heads (and did so again after 24 hours). They found that puzzles which are too easy and too difficult induced the most number of Earworms. The researchers suggested that:
Earworms are manifestations of Zeigarnik Effect, i.e. we only cease to remember things/tasks when they are completed. In other words, a tune lingers in our heads because only a certain part (and not the whole of it) plays in our head. Hence, if we want it to stop, we need to consciously ‘play’ the whole of it.
Also, after we’ve listened to a piece of music, we need to perform an activity that will keep our minds and/or bodies occupied. However, we need to consciously avoid tasks that are too easy or too difficult for us.
HERE ARE SOME EARWORM-INDUCING SONGS FOR YOU:
Beaman CP, & Williams TI (2010). Earworms (‘stuck song syndrome’): Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts.British Journal of Psychology, 101(4), 637-653.
Hyman, I., Burland, N., Duskin, H., Cook, M., Roy, C., McGrath, J., and Roundhill, R. (2012). Going Gaga: Investigating, Creating, and Manipulating the Song Stuck in My Head. Applied Cognitive Psychology DOI:10.1002/acp.2897
Liikkanen L.A. (2008) Music in everymind: Commonality of involuntary musical imagery. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition. Sapporo, Japan.
Williamson, V., Jilka, S., Fry, J., Finkel, S., Mullensiefen, D., and Stewart, L. (2011). How do “earworms” start? Classifying the everyday circumstances of Involuntary Musical ImageryPsychology of Music DOI: 10.1177/0305735611418553
As a guitar player, I’ve always been asked to name my favourite guitar solos of all time. I’ve been inspired by players from different genres and my favourite solos/songs change from time to time. Below are only a few of my favourite ones. Please note that they are not ranked and I am not claiming that they are better than any other songs that were not on the list. This is simply a list of the solos that inspired my own personal style of playing. These songs are the ones that I would listen to time and time again:
Mr. Big’s Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy. Introduced to me by one of my best friends, Mr Big features Paul Gilbert- one of the best alternate-pickers of all time. This song took me a month to learn and 3 months to perfect.
Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Randy Rhodes’ Crazy Train. This song has the groove that makes me wanna pick up my guitar everytime I hear it. The solo’s easy to learn but involves leggatos and tapping techniques that I believe every guitarist should have in their arsenal:
Guns n Roses’ Paradise City. No, it’s not Sweet Child o’ Mine. This song’s solos are far more complicated (for me) than Sweet Child’s and far more harder to learn and play- I still don’t know how to play this song in full.
Pantera’s Walk. I don’t need to explain why I like this song and it’s solo. If you’re a guitarist, you SHOULD know how to play this note for note. This is one of those solos that you don’t change when you play it live.
Avenged Sevefold’s Afterife. Yes, A7X lost it’s appeal when they went mainstream, but this song’s riff and solo is just out of this world. Learn to play this really really slow in order to play it up-tempo:
Derek Trucks’ I Wish I Knew. Honestly, I can’t pick a single song that will represent the genius of Derek Trucks. Just watch and learn:
Poison’s (Ritchie Konzen) Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice). I know the songs cheesy. But everytime I hear the solo, I always wish that I was the one who wrote it!
Al Di Meola’s Mediterranean Sundance. I know this is not your typical song and it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but watch him! I am too scared to try to play like him!
Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues. Slow, easy listening song with a mean, mean solo!
B.B King’s The Thrill is Gone. This man plays fewer note than most guitarists, but the notes that he plays are the right ones. I never knew what the BLUES is until I’ve seen this man live:
Lastly, my favourite solo of them all is John Mayer’s Slow Dancin’ in a Burning Room. I honestly don’t know why I love this solo so much. Everytime I hear/play it, I discover something new. I would never get tired of this song: