People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder, but because they’re going deaf, it has to be played louder still. – Milan Kundera
Anyone who’s ever experienced a ringing in their ears has experienced tinnitus. Simply described it is Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound and a condition, not necessarily a disease. Most people will get the sensation after exposure to a loud sound and the sensation will eventually dissipate.
After years of prolonged excessive audible exposure I never get a reprise from tinnitus. It’s a constant, unrelenting experience that has all but wiped my memory of what silence actually feels like. As long as I can remember in full stereo sound I’m constantly bombarded with different pitches and volumes of ringing. Sounds pretty horrible, right?
So, why would this be my affirmation this week?
My brain has found a way to compensate for what would otherwise be a terrible existence. I’m sure some would debate that constantly hearing the Super Mario Brothers theme is a worse fate than the insescent ringing but I would disagree.
I would much rather the variety of earworms my mind produces to extricate tinnitus’ insidious echoing. As long as I can remember, my mind is constantly shifting focus with something else, usually music. Sure I can still “hear” that underlying buzz but it is buried behind do-do-do-dododo-dodo-dodho-dod-do-dodo-do or some other chatchy, albeit monochromatic melody.
Why is this all a good thing?
As a musician it’s actually given me great insight into music. My brain will occasionally work it’s way over a passage endlessly.
The broken down songs to simple, stripped down ‘monochromatic’ melodies his was great when I was learning how to play mallet percussion like the xylophone and marimba as well as figuring out stickings for quad-tom parts in marching band or multi-tympani pieces. It also helped me reduce more complicated counterpoint passages in ear training and music theory classes to much simpler forms. Even now that I don’t actively require these functions for my daily life, it makes some of the more orchestrated music I listen to enjoyable for longer periods of time as stripped down passages move in and out of the transients of my mind with simple, fluid melodies.
Also stuck in my memory are passages from passing songs in general. Sure, on occasion I’ll get the stereotypical earworm of a commercial jingle or Z100 overplayed pop song, but mostly what happens is something else (a sight, a smell, a related sound) seems to trigger my brain to dig out some remote correlation between something I’ve not listened to in months or years and draw it to the forefront of my conscious in the effort to drown out that confounded ringing. I get to replay literally thousands of songs in my head without having to carry around an MP3 player to shuffle through.
Jealous? Yeah, you know you are. I’ve more songs randomly floating around in my brain than you carry on your iPhone. And, probably better quality too. Ha.
I can’t always consciously decide what’s going to be on repeat in my brain, but the surprises that my subconscious comes up with are probably all better than anything my conscious would be apt to chose in the first place. Typically, I don’t find myself in a position to have to re-tune my brain’s subconscious radio to some other station. Well, save for when real earworm’s in the form of jingles invade. It’s one thing to have Mario running through my head but the Babyback Ribs thing on endless loop is completely uncalled for. Damn you Chilis!
Because I’m mean, I sincerely hope you now have that stuck in your head. For me, thankfully, it’s still Super Mario right where he belongs.