Some of us like to sing a song in the shower whereas some likes while driving. When no one’s at home, we even do it in front of the mirror with an imaginary microphone. Some of the songs get stuck in our mind. Am I right? 90% of us get a song stuck in our heads playing on an endless loop.
But have you ever thought why this happens?
So scientists found a reason behind it. The songs that get stuck in your mind is also called as Earworm or involuntary musical imagery. Such songs consist of a fairly generic and easy-to-remember melody. Such songs generally more are featured in the radio playlist.
Previous research proofs were limited about what makes such song catchy instead of their popularity or how often people may have heard it. Generally, such sticky songs have quite a fast tempo along with a common melodic shape. They have unusual intervals or repetitions.
Dr. Kelly Jakubowski, Durham University said, “Our findings show that you can to some extent predict which songs are going to get stuck in people’s heads based on the song’s melodic content. This could help aspiring songwriters or advertisers write a jingle everyone will remember for days or months afterward.”
The study found the tunes that stuck in the people’s head was with a more common global melodic outline. It means they had very difficult overall melodic shapes commonly found in pop music. For example, the most common contour patterns in Western music is that heard in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. In this contour, the pitch of the first phrase rises whereas the second falls. Various nursery rhymes follow the same pattern so that it will easy to remember for children.
Additionally, the earworm consists of another crucial ingredient. That is a different interval structure in the song. For instance, some unexpected leaps or more repeated notes than you would expect to hear in the average pop song.
Jakubowski said, “We already know that recent and frequent exposure to a song makes it more likely to get stuck in your head and people who sing and listen to music a lot tend to get earworms more often than others. Now we also get that regardless of the chart success of a song, there are certain features of the melody that make it more prone to getting stuck in people’s heads like some sort of private musical screensaver.”
Scientists involved 3,000 people in research. They asked them for their most frequent earworm tunes. After that, they compared these to tunes which had never been named as earworms in the database. During this process, they compared data according to terms of popularity and how recently they had been in the UK Music Charts. They then examined melodic features of the earworm and non-earworm tunes.
According to scientists, “This study will help to understand how brain networks, which are involved in perception, emotions, memory and spontaneous thoughts, behave in different people.“