Wednesday, March 21, 2012

music, biology, and earworms

So, GREATLY appreciated the recent blog post title by Hipster Birders, "Rock me, Ammodramus" about the sparrows they'd been seeking. SO much so that I had to comment. And got this in reply:

"We've been really wanting to see the Ammodramus sparrows since we've moved here,
and I've actually been singing that tune for weeks."

So, THAT brought up this topic: music, biologists, and earworms.

And reminded me of years ago, when I was being hounded by Hemizonia.

This is the genus of a common plant at my research partner's and my study site.

EVERY DAY, once that plant (tarweed) bloomed,
and I passed it on the way to our study site,
the Hemizonia record would start spinning ROUND and ROUND in my head
to this tune--substitute "Hemizonia" for "Paranoimia"
(specifically it's the singers that come in 1:25 into the video):

Made me wonder just how many of us, during whatever obsession (required or otherwise) we're enduring, have had songs adapted by our brains into something subject-relevant, then repeated again and again.

This was not something I TRIED to do.

I didn't search my mind for song lyrics and compare them to
the myriad biological terms I have in my brain.

It just happened.

Thankfully, I DO enjoy the above song.

Tho' what was in my head was mostly just those voices,
repeating Hemizonia, over and over. And over.


Well, I suppose that's just one of the dangers of knowledge.
You never know where it will take you.

Has this ever happened to you? Do tell. =)

And now, this biologist, must break away to dance in her kitchen.

=) bb


  1. Well, maybe it says something about the nature of my work (or lack of nature) but the songs that get stuck for me are "Things that make you go Hmmmm" and Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype." And I hum the Wicked Witch theme from Wizard of Oz when I'm riding my bike and I pass shiny pants guys.

    But I'll think about it more. I'm sure there are other (better) ones.

  2. I've sung a version of the Byrds' Turn! Turn! Turn!, where I've replaced the lyrics "There is a season / Turn! Turn! Turn!" with "There is a seagull / Tern! Tern! Tern!"

  3. Thanks for the shout out, bb! It is funny how one's brain makes those connections to link songs and tunes to other things in the forefront of our minds. Its seems to be a way to really have those subjects ingrained in our brains.

  4. Oh, I thought of another little ditty that I sometimes sing. You may know that song that they usually play at basketball games to pump up the crowd that says "Everybody clap your hands!" and then everyone claps in unison. Well, my version of that song that I'll sing out in the marshes is "Everybody Clapper Rail!" And sometimes, I'll even clap. Sadly, though, this doesn't work in terms of bringing out Clapper Rails =P


Cool people write inside rectangles....