Dan Kruse
Dan Kruse

Can’t get the music, or the lyrics, to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” out of your head, or “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles? Then, YOU have an earworm, i.e., a musical memory. Coming from the German “ohrwurm,” an earworm is an “involuntary musical image” (INMI). This seemingly endless tape in our head causes us to wonder why it happens, and obsesses us as it continues to play in our head.

Returning to the Arizona Senior Academy for the sixth time, at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday (Nov.5), Dan Kruse will share the results of his research on earworms.

The Nov. 5 visit will provide the results of research Kruse has completed via an interdisciplinary grant funded by the University of Arizona Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry to study involuntary musical images. This was a faculty research collaboration grant with Donald Trout, professor of music theory and Andrew Lotto, professor of cognitive science in the UA’s Speech/Language and Hearing Department.

Kruse will show a film developed as a result of this research and answer questions about and encourage audience discussion of earworms.

The speaker has had a lifelong interest in music, focusing on what makes music matter in human relationships. He says that for some people, it is all about the sound of the music, for others, the lyrics and their emotional response. His interests segued to this phenomenon of how music manifests itself in our memory.

Kruse has earned a Master of Ethnomusicology degree at the UA, with a focus on the production of documentary media on musical culture and history.

Written by: Sharon Stetz, Academy Village Volunteer

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Why is ‘That Song’ Stuck in Your Head?: Nov. 2015
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