Earworms, we’ve all had them. Those irritating snatches of music that get stuck in your head for no reason whatsoever. But what causes them?
It’s a question that researchers from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) are currently working on, and their findings to date will be presented at a special event this month at the Science and Industry Museum.
Pi: Earworms is part of the museum’s Platform for Investigation series. At these monthly events, families can try fun hands-on activities, meet real life scientists and find out about the latest discoveries.
Earworms – also known as stuck song syndrome, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI) – are defined as a fragment of music that plays in a person’s mind without external stimulation (i.e. actually hearing music).
They are being studied by the RNCM’s Dr Michelle Phillips and Dr Ionna Filippidi, who are looking at the differences in involuntary musical imagery after listening to live versus recorded music performances.
In collaboration with external partners, including The Bridgewater Hall and the Science and Industry Museum, they are using bespoke software and smartphone applications to collect data from audience members attending a range of concerts.
Phillips said, “Big data and live concert audiences are an exciting combination! Music is universal, and learning what makes it replay in our minds is important in furthering our knowledge of the role of music in our lives.
“We hope to not only learn about musical earworms in live performance, but also explore wider questions such as what makes music memorable, and how does our relationship with technology and the digital world influence our listening experiences?”
Visitors to the museum will be able to take part in music experiments, suggest or draw earworms of their own, as well as find out more about the psychology behind music and memory.
When: 27th April 2019
Where: Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
£: Admission is free (Event is suitable for ages 8+)
More info: www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk