General Question

LC_Beta's avatar

Do you "hear" music that isn't there?

Asked by LC_Beta (1883points) October 30th, 2009 from iPhone

I don’t mean getting a little diddy in your head and humming it all day.

Almost every morning, I wake up hearing music. It sounds so real and vivid, it’s as though it were coming from an alarm-clock radio. It’s almost always a song I know and love but haven’t listened to recently. (Last week was frustrating because three mornings in a row I was hearing “The Legionare’s Lament”).

I hear music throughout the rest of the day, but not constantly and not vividly like I do in the morning.

I thought this was completely normal until recently. Turns out, nobody else I’ve asked experiences this. So I thought I’d turn to the Fluther community. Have you experienced the same thing? Should I be concerned, or just view this as one of my brain’s quirks?

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32 Answers

jfos's avatar

You should wait until it’s a song you’ve never heard before, then write it down on paper or record it, then send it to me.

gemiwing's avatar

There is a type of hallucination called parasomnia.

I would tell your family doctor about it- they will guide you from there.

erichw1504's avatar

I often wake up with a random song in my head too, maybe not as vividly as you experience, but it’s usually a song I haven’t heard in a long, long time. Could just come from the back of your conscious while you’re sleeping (kind of like a dream) and still be in your mind when you wake.

oratio's avatar

Well. I have been woken up by vivid speech in my head some times. I guess it’s what @gemiwing said.

gailcalled's avatar

Irving Berline wrote about it in 1950: Show was Call me Madam. Duet sung by Ethel Merman and Russell Nype.

I hear singing and there’s no one there
I smell blossoms and the trees are bare
All day long I seem to walk on air
I wonder why, I wonder why?
I keep tossing in my sleep at night
And what’s more, I’ve lost my appetite
Stars that used to twinkle in the skies
Are twinkling in my eyes, I wonder why?

You don’t need analyzin’
.................<word word word>
There is nothing you can take
To relieve that pleasant ache
You’re not sick, you’re just in love!

[If you have two singers, you can also sing the above two verses simultaneously]

Webzilla's avatar

I have heard music before that wasn’t there and it did scare me! I love music though and feel that it is great to not need a stereo but if you are really worried about it you should have it checked to put your mind at ease. It could be a mental message your body is trying to tell you; as if you need to change something but maybe not if the music has no real significance to your life.

Jude's avatar

I’m thinking brain quirk. That’s never happened to me before, but, it is indeed cool.

gussnarp's avatar

Very rarely, but yes.

kurtman's avatar

I’ve never had that happen, I mean If it’s only when you’re waking up I would say you were dreaming it. But what you described is something completely different.

LC_Beta's avatar

@Webzilla – it doesn’t significantly impact my life except that it’s part of my experience. I guess it tends to set the pace for the rest of my day, but it’s not the only factor. I like hearing the music, I’ve just started to get concerned about whether it’s a symptom of a problem.

gussnarp's avatar

I can always tell it’s something different from having a song in my head, because I’m practically tone deaf, and if I just have song in my head it’s usually focussed on lyrics and rhythm. When I actually hear it it’s all there, much better than I could ever recreate it consciously.

shego's avatar

Through out the day, it happens to me a lot. I actually never thought about it. It is always a song that I like, but like you said, something that you haven’t heard in a while. Huh, well, I guess I should talk to my therapist then. But It’s been going on for over a year.

hearkat's avatar

Hello; I am an Audiologist.

Tinnitus is the term for any sound in the ear/s or head when no external sound is present. Hearing music is not the most common form of tinnitus, but it does happen. My patients report hearing songs like hymns or Christmas carols… but I think what tune is perceived will be relative to the individual’s exposure to music over their lifetime. Hearing music was called “Pseudo-Auditory Hallucinations” but is now referred to as “Musical Ear Syndrome”.

Tinnitus typically coincides with hearing loss. How is your hearing? Do you have a history of exposure to loud noises? Does hearing loss or tinnitus run in your family? Do you have any other history of ear, hearing or balance problems? I would recommend scheduling a comprehensive Audiological evaluation to have your hearing and symptomatology evaluated further. At the very least, you’ll have a baseline, or perhaps you’ll be able to get some answers.

The American Tinnitus Association has more information.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

This happens to me sometimes too. It most commonly happens when I am playing a videogame. After I turn off the game, I can still hear the background music in my head as vividly as if it were still playing, sometimes for as long as an hour after the music is turned off. I always thought it was pretty weird, but I figured it was because the background music was so repetitive that my brain kind of put it on repeat and didn’t know when to stop.

The other thing that happens to me is this: when I listen to an instrumental or karaoke version of a song I know, I often hear the voices of the singers in my head. I also just attributed that to having already memorized the sound of the singing and my brain was just connecting the two. But it is still so vivid an experience that I’m not always sure whether I’m listening to the original or instrumental version of the song.

@hearkat I never knew about “Musical Ear Syndrome.” Thank you for posting all that info! I would love to know how why these auditory hallucinations happen, and why it is associated with hearing loss. Guess I should have gone into neurology or something instead of art. :D

RedPowerLady's avatar

I don’t want to answer now that I read @hearkat ‘s explanation…..

LC_Beta's avatar

@hearkat: Thank you for all this information. I appreciate your help.

My hearing has never been great – I am constantly having to ask people to repeat what they said or face me so I can understand them. There is no history of young hearing loss in my family, although my grandfather wore a hearing aid when he got older. I do not experience trouble with balancing. I always had swimmer’s-ear infections as a kid, but never in adulthood.

As far as history of loud noises, I’ve often been to loud concerts (now I wear earplugs). Also, I used to wear headphones while riding my bike and noticed that the music was much too loud. I don’t do that anymore.

Edit: I also sometimes lose hearing in one ear for a few seconds and there is often a very soft and very high-pitched ringing sound accompanied. This happened last night – I would say it happens a couple of times per month.

DominicX's avatar

I also sometimes lose hearing in one ear for a few seconds and there is often a very soft and very high-pitched ringing sound accompanied. This happened last night – I would say it happens a couple of times per month.

That happens to me too. I don’t think hearing things that aren’t there is ever “normal” (I would be pretty freaked out if I started having audio hallucinations), but I sure hope there’s nothing too abnormal about the loss of hearing in one ear for a few seconds accompanied by soft high-pitched ringing because I’ve experienced that every now and then ever since I was a little kid. I’ve never known anyone to talk about it until now. Nice to know I’m not alone… :)

hearkat's avatar

@DominicX: Everyone does have those fleeting moments of tinnitus once in a blue moon… (it means someone’s talking about you).

@LC_Beta: I definitely think you should have a comprehensive evaluation. Let me know if you have any other questions.

wasabi_rave's avatar

Yes. Not as frequently as it used to be, but I am a musician and frequently I would hear a random song that my brain actually created… not songs from memory… and it would send me racing to my piano to try and replay it. Created some of my best pieces that way. :)

Bluefreedom's avatar

Only after concussions and it usually ends up being show tunes.

tyrantxseries's avatar

most of the day, every day
It’s nice though, my other audio hallucinations fade to the background when the music starts.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have this every so often too. I hear a song (that I already know) even when there is no music on. I don’t think it has ever lasted for a whole song, usually just a single verse or chorus.

28lorelei's avatar

Yes, and when it does, I usually try to find paper and a pencil, or my computer, if that’s available. Then I come back to it later to do something cool with it, unless I have time like that minute.

castro1124's avatar

This happends to me once, to me it felt supernatural and spiritual. I listened to the “Memories from Home” album (music notes from the Sumerian culture). It’s remarkable if you ask me. Also I’ve heard the music to the Cd series “20 minutes to less stress” my name is Luis I have nothing to gain from telling you my experience. much love.

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keobooks's avatar

If it happens specifically only when you first wake up or right before you go to sleep, it may be hypnogogic. It happens when you are between sleep and wake states and you are having REM activity while semi conscious. Most people who experience this report only imagery, but some people experience hearing sounds.

ObsessedStitch's avatar

Do you get migraines or have any kind of hearing loss? My mom gets this right before she gets a migraine. I used to never get it, but recently started having this. I have Menieres Disease in both ears (affects hearing and balance) and the phantom music started after that. To me it sounds like church music. It’s loud, but not clear. Maybe it has something to do with that?

NormaPadro's avatar

It sounds like you are a musician and haven’t applied yourself to it yet. Maybe you should learn more about instruments and try to create those tunes you hear. Most painters have seen all of those shapes they draw in their minds. Before I got into art I kept seeing shapes of different sizes.
I didn’t know what that meant all I know is that one day I drew over ten pictures out of nothing. You just never know what you can create. It’s not that you’re going off. It’s that the brain needs to create and your eyes or hands better be ready, because you are in for a real ride. Go and explore your way. I didn’t know how to play any instruments later I figured I can. I didn’t know I could create music and later I did. This was two years ago. I haven’t stopped creating music since.
Don’t dismiss your natural ability. Anyone can be what they apply themselves to.

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