You probably remember from a previous post that I’m focused on Bach right now. I am trying to learn the complete Great Eighteen chorales, also called the Leipzig Chorales (even though some scholars speculate some of the pieces may have been written when Bach was in Weimar.) And whenever I’m learning a new piece, I tend to play it over and over endlessly in my head. Those who know call those bits of repeating melodies earworms. If you would like a layman’s view of this, please read this article from the BBC Magazine, Why songs get stuck in our heads by Rhitu Chatterjee. Of course, the author wasn’t talking about the music of Bach!
For me as a musician, I consider having earworms as part of the learning process. I remember having Bach stuck in my head when I was a student of Marcel Dupré in the late 60s and I was practicing six to eight hours a day. Nowadays just working on a new piece a half an hour in the morning is enough to keep my head filled with music the rest of the day.
Right now I’m obsessed with Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 662 which you can hear in the video if you click here. I posted this video link previously and have come to find out that the organist is Bine Katrine Bryndorf, a Danish organist who is a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.
I just found a website called Earworms Learning which purports to teach you a foreign language based on this phenomenon, also called Musical Brain Trainer. They say it “is based on the science behind catchy songs that stick in the head: the music acts as a catalyst for the memorisation of words and anchors the new vocabulary deep in the long term memory.”
Thank goodness my brain is still able to keep learning!