How to hear music in your ears without an ipod.

Categorised as GENERAL.

This cat is obviously trying to block out the auditory hallucinations.

Every time I take off in a plane, when I obediently turn off all electronic devices just as I’m instructed (and not because I get excited by the pilots, but because I don’t want anything in the engine to fucking ignite) I am delivered a good portion of entertainment by angels that sing in my head. Authentically, every time that I leave the ground, I hear a choir of men and women dressed in long light-blue robes, flying somewhere behind me without legs and singing some biblical verses in a drastic rhythm of a slowed ‘the-car-is-falling-into-the-river’ film scene.

And while all these chants are only a trip caused not even by taking something before the flight, but by my own hormones, some people have the luck of having such fun everyday without the need to take off with a boing or cocaine. Their playlist is also a little bit more sophisticated than my legions of saints. Beginning with old good Mozart, through “Mama Mia” musical melodies, death metal and folk children’s choirs. A variation of auditory hallucinations, the so called “musical hallucinations”- because that’s their scientific name- actually exist. I got the chance to investigate one of such cases myself, thanks to a guy from Switzerland who from time to time heard some folk melodies that nobody else heard. And although the signs indicated an abundance of various substances in his body rather than anything else, it soon turned out that in fact the voices in his head were purely his own brain’s creation.

I met the Swiss guy a few months ago on a New York rooftop. There were all the elements of a classic party, everybody happy enough to sprinkle the neighbors downstairs with crushed glass. One moment, he suddenly told me that he could hear a choir of singing children. Not many things in life move me, especially at parties and especially in the city where a 70-year old wanted to voluntarily sell me some weed. However, you don’t often hear a group of kids singing Indian melodies in the middle of the night even there. I didn’t suspect that the boy would trip so much after three Thai beers that are intended for Asian, not even American heads. I just ignored his remark, but half an hour later the children started singing again. We walked around the rooftop to find them, climbed up the water-tower, went down and up the stairwell a couple of times. No voices were coming even from the host’s Romanian neighbors’ apartment, who used to watch TV on two screens, one on top of the other with open doors. He could still hear the melodies from time to time and I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t appreciated the potential of Thai beer. After all, people forget what and how much they take on parties, three days ago I was rescuing a friend from drowning in the toilet, so why does this surprise me? But kids? He’s sick, whatever. After the adventure I got back to the edge of the rooftop where the other guests were still cutting their fingers while trying to crush some more glass. I jumped around the crowd, joining some more and less absorbing conversations just to avoid that cretin.

Unfortunately the logic in thinking “I work one subway stop from the party, I can stay till the morning, it won’t be far” failed and I ended up with a dozy hangover the next day, so it was a double surprise  when I was woken up by the Swiss guy the next day while sleeping with my head on my knees in the office. He apologized for his behavior, not conscious that the only word at 11 am the next day in my head was… there was no word, but at least I didn’t remember the last night’s phase. A few days later he asked me out and I agreed after a few other parties in the meantime, when I found out that climbing up a water-tower in order to find a choir of kindergardeners may be just a warm-up before real local fun.

Meanwhile the boy went to see a doctor. He was abused with my question  “So what did your therapist say?” Because it wasn’t a therapist, but a laryngologist, then neurologist, then laryngologist again. It turned out that the kids were indeed singing that night; but as I was suspecting- in his head. The kid was suffering from these music hallucinations. He was the lucky one, because usually patients with this ailment are on average 70-something and suffer from their own “brains”. In his case the state was purely physical though- he had worked on producing explosions for the freaks in Hollywood and his trips were caused by a partial loss of hearing in his left ear.

iPods per se are already cliché, so here is the guide to music hallucinations, or at least a few methods how to turn your brain into an iPod:

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1. It’s not that easy. First you have to scratch all your vinyls, tear all your tapes, block last.fm’s server, subscribe Miley and all her sisters on YouTube, don’t let your father catch you downloading music from torrents and buy 5 iPods, optionally 2 iPhones. You just have to grow up and live up. The biggest chance of getting an auditory hallucination happens to people aged between 73 and 78. In a phrase “Don’t live fast, don’t die young”.

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2. “It’s an ill wind that blows…” blah blah. The songs from the playlist entitled “music hallucinations” aren’t your own creation. Now nothing will ever help you prove to your folks that you’d ever had any talent and could have graduated from that conservatory. Go to the mall, go up and down in an elevator that plays random melodies, rent an apartment near an opera singer, get an internship in a Gypsy tabor. Listen, listen, listen. When you have music hallucinations your brain switches to the shuffle mode. You don’t wanna end up with one “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” or  “Three Blind Mice”, do you?

3. Turns out, a human brain is a little more complicated that it could seem. Some cases are a result of not providing it with enough music impulses. Ha! First, you have to train yourself in the old school ancient art of cheating your own self. For example, instead of simply turning the ipod off, try just turning the music all way down and still listen to it. This way you’re doubling the chances, making sure that whether or not you listen to the music you may always start hearing it in your head.

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4. Try to feel it. What you’ll hear in your hallucinations playlist are usually melodies that you connect with some very significant events in your life. Put headphones on and start conquering the world with your big moments. Begin with swimming across the Thames while listening to “Big in Japan”, become famous for growing the biggest cucumber, and play “Wildcat” in the background. You get the idea.

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5. In two thirds of the cases the music heard was religious. The best thing to do is to get back to the first point, it’s easier for these folks. You can always go to the old good Holy Mass. Choose 11 in the morning on Monday and you’ll surely meet only those who are already experiencing music hallucinations. Stay for a few sessions and sing, sing, sing. For the cool and alternative there’s an option of hindu mantras.

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6. Is your life motto “ironic twist of fate”? You can compare your luck to that of the ones from points 1./5. Not only does the human brain pull pranks. Life does also. Music hallucinations are often caused by deafness. Loud music, water or a needle could help. You’ll need to acquire new qualifications and change your tabor internship into something more Hollywood-explosions-like. You will finally be able to stand up against the establishment and crash your iPod into pieces, because you’ll no longer need it. At this moment you should have a good playlist in your head ready for the show.

7. Arrange having a brain tumor, an abcess, an empyema, cerebritis, a stroke or apoplexy. Maybe also arrange having a life and think about listening to regular music. Apparently you’re really not gifted and you have no chances of standing out. Ever.

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8. 88 per cent of those who have music hallucinations are women. Are you a woman? Become more feminine. Fight with the feminists, take some hormones and even more hormones. Maybe it’s time to switch to girls and dump your husband. Are you a man? Then you probably already have your ways.

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9. Three quarters of those inspired live alone. If after all this trying they haven’t moved out already, get rid of your girlfriend, boyfriend, folks and the elderly. You can buy a flat in Japan, even if someone insists on coming in, they won’t be able to. A little bit more spacey option is the deserted desert. There are no mushrooms, but there isn’t any water either, so the hallucinations are pretty much guaranteed.

10. It’s flattering that you’ve read all the tips. It’s not good. They’ve probably recently arrested your dealer and you haven’t found a new one yet. You have to get over it yet though, and the sooner, the better.

words Anna Baranowska

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