“I just can’t get you out of my head” – musical hallucinations and Phantom Voices

Wellcome Trust Blog


Most of us can recall familiar music in our heads; some of us can imagine original music. But when that musical imagination spills over into musical intrusions, earworms or hallucinations, the experience can be disorientating at best, and at worst frightening. Recipients of a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, vocal ensemble The Clerks, present a new performance piece entitled ‘Phantom Voices’, a provocative take on the phenomenon of musical hallucinations. Edward Wickham, who devised the project, explains more…

Many of us experience what might be called ‘musical imaginings’ in the form of the everyday phenomenon of the ‘earworm’ which has led to surveys concluding, unsurprisingly, that Kylie Minogue’s “I just can’t get you out of my head” is a leading contender. But there is much greater range: from the musician or composer who is capable of controlling and manipulating her musical imaginings, through to the person who hears music as if…

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Medical Library, University of Aberdeen

The team in the Medical Library at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland

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