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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > The Perpetual Music Track: The Phenomenon of Constant Musical Imagery

Steven Brown (2006)

The Perpetual Music Track: The Phenomenon of Constant Musical Imagery

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13(6):43-62.

The perpetual music track is a new concept that describes a condition of constant or near-constant musical imagery. This condition appears to be very rare even among composers and musicians. I present here a detailed self-analysis of musical imagery for the purpose of defining the psychological features of a perpetual music track. I have music running through my head almost constantly during waking hours, consisting of a combination of recently-heard pieces and distant pieces that spontaneously pop into the head. Imagery consists mainly of short musical fragments that get looped repeatedly upon themselves. Corporeal manifestations of imagery occur in the form of unconscious finger movements whose patterns correspond to the melodic contour of the imagined piece. Musical dreams occur every week or two, and contain a combination of familiar and originally- composed music. These results are discussed in light of theories of imagery, consciousness, hallucination, obsessive cognition, and most especially the notion that acoustic consciousness can be split into multiple parallel streams.

imagery, consciousness, obsessive cognition, music, musical processing