Monday, December 13, 2010

Headphone earwarmers and thoughts they provoke

It seems that I do my my best writing in my head while I am walking, if only I had a word processor in my mind to write these things down, like in this totally awful book that I got from a book fair I think and read in one afternoon. Oh, I guess I could just scribble it on paper, but what is this, the 1950s? I might as well just have a papyrus scroll.

Pinggu has gotten absurdly cold, and not just cold, really really windy. I also got my haircut. These two things put together mean that my ears are freezing everywhere I walk, the wind feels like razors sheering my ears off. I could buy a beanie, but I haven't yet, and so tonight when I went out to get some dumplings from a local favorite location I decided I would wear my headphones to protect my ears and that I might as well attach my iPod to them if I'm gonna wear them. Of course the first song to come on was a total jam (an idea that I tried to describe to one of my classes, no idea if it took, but that may just be because they were listening to some remix of Poker Face by Lady GaGa and my idea of a jam was decidedly NOT Lady GaGa).

Anyway, I realized how much better life is with music streaming into my (delightfully warm) ears. On my walk home I repeated the above mentioned jam (Get Out of This by Dinosaur Jr.) and just looked at the stars and how cool the steam looked coming out of the giant smokestack and generally being in awe of the beauty of that which surrounds us. I've walked around varying areas of the world with my iPod before and I always find that I look at things differently with great music coming in. Even now, as I write this my laptop has chosen a most tasty jam (Mr. Grieves by TV on the Radio), and it is helping me to think of different and interesting ideas to write about.

I was reading an article the other day about how to not choke under pressure. It was a really interesting article, I'll link it if I find it, but near the end they were talking about people who are very nervous when taking tests. I've always been a great test taker, I don't know why, but I've never been nervous and done worse than I deserved because of it. One of the strategies the article suggested for alleviating the nervousness was singing a song to yourself in your head. The article claims that doing a task like that can focus your extra mental capacities, the ones that would be making you nervous by thinking about how bad it would be if you failed or what if you don't know the answer, on singing the song to yourself, thus shutting that voice off and leaving you confident. I ALWAYS have a song going through my mind when I'm taking a test. I could still tell you what song it was when I took the S.A.T. (No Quarter by Led Zeppelin) Usually it is just some part of a song, or some riff that is stuck in my head that just goes on over and over, but I guess it really does help you not second guess yourself and just do the test without over thinking. 

One thing that I think is really interesting is how different people process music. What I mean by that is that some people can sing you the lyrics after one or two listens of a song, and some people couldn't tell you the words after hearing a song a hundred times. I fall into the latter category. I can tell you about the third guitar line that shows up for only the last chorus that basically doubles the rhythm part to make the song beefier, but I can't tell you what on Earth the singer is singing about over it. I blame band for this, years and years of ear training focused on listening for different parts and tunings, not much on the words, but it is a reasonable assumption to guess that I would be like this anyway. Why is it that different people hear music so differently? I don't know, I that is something a person like me should get to studying, who wants to give me an fMRI machine and some funding?

Anyway, as I passed the smoke stack and was observing all the beauty around me I didn't miss the irony that the last song to come on before I walked past the school and into my apartment complex was Another Brick in the Wall Part II by Pink Floyd. Teachers, leave them kids alone.

1 comment:

  1. i've started using the evernote app on my iphone for when i get ideas. so when i'm on my computer it automatically syncs and i can see it and be like oh yeah i remember now.

    i tend to get songs stuck in my head more often when i'm sleep deprived. i wonder why that is?
    you know what is the worst song to have stuck in your head while taking a test? "in da gadda da vida." jesus christ that 12-minute long solo was driving me crazy while i was trying to solve physics problems.