Earworms

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Ageing music book, Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau, France

Earworms – those snippets of songs or strains of music which suddenly appear in your head and won’t go away. Sometimes described as “I’ve got this song/tune/piece of music on the brain”. And it often doesn’t go away does it?

Singing with my local Rock Choir in Cheshire, I very often have an intense bout of Earworms, especially when we’re limbering up to perform at a big concert or when we start to learn a new song, so I had to smile when I saw someone doing research into this phenomena when I went to a concert recently.

A stand was set up in the foyer of the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester with the intriguing words “Do you get Earworms” on a large poster. I went to check it out in the interval and agreed to take part in the short survey being run by the Royal Northern College of Music.

They were interested in responses to the music being performed that evening – the theme was space and the cosmos, and top of the bill was Holst’s Planets Suite. I can pretty much conjure up the opening bars for Mars at will –

Da-da-da-daaaa, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-daaa, da-da-da-da, and so on…..

But my head was still filled with floating remnants of the 18 songs I’d performed with Rock Choir at the Liverpool Philharmonic the previous week, and with the first section of the new song we’d started to learn at Rock Choir that morning.

I wondered if there might be room for any more, but the brain and the memory is Tardis-like and there was room for the Star Wars theme, which I’d heard in the first half of the concert, to replay itself as I chatted to the researcher and answered a few questions.

But I need to keep those 18 songs I performed to hand in the filing cabinet in my head as our choir has some charity gigs coming up and we’ve been told we could be singing any of the 18. Attention has to be firmly in place to pick up what song to sing, based on the intro music. Earworms can be very useful!

Street musicians, New Orleans

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Oh they were good, this trio, very good, with a nice easy style. They’d gathered quite a crowd around them on this busy Sunday morning and I stood around watching and listening for quite a while.

They deserved every dollar bill and more that was put in the hat out front of their space.

New Orleans – NOLA – what a place, with a special buzz and music at every street corner.

I first featured NOLA in a post a last year, when these musicians made an appearance along with other street scenes.

A football final and 18 songs at the Liverpool Philhamonic

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall; Part of the 300-strong choir

Hanging on to daughter’s arm, enjoying the atmosphere, I made my way through a couple of riotous street parties in Liverpool last Saturday afternoon, en route to the iconic Art Deco Liverpool Philharmonic Hall where I was going to sing in a big Cheshire and Merseyside Rock Choir concert.

I had to arrive early for sound checks (we had a live 5 piece band and very good they were too), line ups and a quick run through of some songs as a warm up. We knew it might be a bit busy in Liverpool as The Reds had reached the final of the European Cup being played in Madrid. Busy and lively it was. Daughter had taken me early, the rest of the family and friends were to follow later.

We parked then linked arms to make sure we stayed together as we walked to the venue. Liverpool was buzzing, the atmosphere was good humoured and boozy. Inhaling the beer we had to laugh and just go with the energy. We stalled at one point in a narrow street, where it was very lively, a red smoke bomb had been let off and the crowds were singing. Stuck in the middle of it, we just joined in with the crowd singing “When the Reds go marching in”. There were smiles all around and high spirits, but at no point did we feel threatened. It was a great warm up to the concert for me and I arrived energised after experiencing a footie crowd in full voice.

While daughter went off to look at Liverpool’s two cathedrals before meeting the rest of my fan club, I did the warm up, line up, got changed, ate a snack, applied the red lipstick and sat with voice part friends (all lower soprano) from my choir.

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We lined up backstage as music from the band played something beaty, the lights swivelled and swirled and the dry ice machine pumped out atmospheric clouds. Then it was time to walk on stage, take our places and perform. No nerves for me, just pure excitement, and knowing that I was perfectly capable of singing all 18 songs we were performing, word, note and moves perfect. I was more than ready.

Our opening song was Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now  – there was no chance of that as the energy was high right from the start! We sang rock, pop and gospel, old songs from the 80s, current pop songs, ballads and the emotional Rock Choir “anthem”, Labbi Sifre’s Something Inside So Strong, a powerful song which brings a tear to a few eyes as we sing it. The concert ended on a high for our final song, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, followed by our encore, The Communard’s Don’t Leave Me This Way.

While I’d been singing my heart out, Liverpool had won the European Cup, so back on the streets it was even rowdier with an even higher charge to the atmosphere. What  a night. More street parties and celebrating happy people. Daughter and I linked arms, said “See you at home” to the rest of our group and went once more into the partying fray to get to the car.

I’d been looking forward to this concert but never imagined it would be partying all the way before and after the performance. It’s an experience that will stay with me for a long time. I’m still glowing now.