The I-pod Brain: Musical Hallucinations

Sasha's picture

Imagine a world in which you had a song playing non-stop in your head and there was no way to stop it. Your brain was constantly in listening mode and the music in your head was always on full volume. This is what it would be like to suffer from music hallucinations. It is normal to hear an occasional song in your head, but generally it eventually goes away because the brain is bombarded with numerous other signals and stimuli that we are able to focus on instead. Music hallucinations occur when a set of neurons in the brain begin to misfire and patients feel as though they are always hearing music, even though in reality there is nothing playing. There is no other symptom of music hallucination and studies have shown that music hallucination tends to be the only psychosis problem in patients, the main concern being that these hallucinations are very annoying.

            One study by Dr. Victor Aziz of St. Cadoc’s Hospital in Wales who studied musical hallucinations in 30 patients show that this psychosis generally occurs in elderly patients- at around 73 years old, 88% of whom are women, and 77% who live alone. [1] Many patients also tend to have some type of hearing impairment. Lesions to the dorsal pons caused by strokes or other sources of brain damage are one way in which these hallucinations can be triggered.[2] What is particularly interesting however is that musical hallucinations don’t activate the primary auditory cortex. According to Dr. Griffiths, a neurologist from the University of Newcastle upon Tyme who works extensively researching music hallucinations, his patients actually used the part of the brain that turns simple sounds into complex music.[3] Researchers believe that these hallucinations may be triggered by a disruption in communication pathways between the sensory centers in the neocortex of the brain and the reticular formation. The disruption may cause musical hallucinations by limiting the function of neurons that stop the brain from hallucinating.[4] PET scans have shown that when patients suffer from musical hallucinations, the areas of the brain that are activated are almost exactly the same areas as those of a person listening to music.[5] The brain is actually stimulating itself in order to hear music from sounds that are stored in the patient’s memory. All the songs that people with music hallucinations hear in their head are songs that they have heard before in their lifetime.

            It is believed that the main cause for these musical hallucinations is from the brain not receiving enough sound stimulation. The music processing area of the brain is continuously looking for signals in the brain that they can interpret but if the patient lives alone, or is suffering from hearing impairment; there is no sound to be heard. This seems similar to the mismatch between the sensory and corollary discharge. The brain is anticipating one sort of stimulation and is actually, in this case, not receiving any.

            It is particularly interesting that the brain appears to be stimulated in the same areas when hallucinating sound as when actually listening to music. Some patients were able to identify exactly who the singer of the song in their head was as well as they key the music was in.[6] If it is possible to have such an accurate replay of music in our head, and considering our current society is constantly flooded with music, from the grocery store to I-pods, is it possible that we may one day stop being able to distinguish between this music in our head and the music playing around us?

            It seems as though as research develops, the distinction between what is a product of our brain and what we are actually experiencing becomes more muffled. Not only with the auditory cortex, but the visual cortex also presents this insight. If what we see and the picture visualized in our head are mainly processed through our visual cortex, then when there is damage to the visual cortex and there is resulting blindsight, anything perceived is purely an internal process. Perhaps similarly, when neurons that transfer sound are damaged, the brain still has a desire to hear sound which can result in these musical hallucinations. The brain does what it can to maintain its senses, even after there has been damage.

There does not appear to be any full proof cures for musical hallucination and it seems as though perhaps these rare hallucinations may begin to occur more frequently. Treatments have ranged from medication to patients simply listening to the radio or moving to nursing homes so that elderly patients receive some sort of cortical stimulation by talking with others.[7] The catch seems to be that since people are becoming more and more dependent on continuously playing music- many people don’t even walk down the street without having headphones on and music playing- perhaps our brains will begin to adjust so that we are never in complete silence. Hopefully the music is good.

[1] Hymns and arias: musical hallucinations in older people in Wales
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume 20, Issue 7, Date: July 2005, Pages: 658-660
Nick Warner, Victor Aziz


[2] Rare Hallucination Make Music in the Mind. American Academy of Neurology, August 9th, 2000. Accessed from Science Daily,  4/17/07 

[3]Zimmer, Carl. Neuron Networks Go Awry and Brain Becomes an Ipod. New York Times, July 12 2005, 4/17/07

[4] Rare Hallucination Make Music in the Mind. American Academy of Neurology, August 9th, 2000. Accessed from Science Daily,  4/17/07 

[5] Brain Tortures Humans With Music Hallucination, Pravda, Feb. 13th 2006,  4/17/07 

[6] Hymns and arias: musical hallucinations in older people in Wales
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume 20, Issue 7, Date: July 2005, Pages: 658-660
Nick Warner, Victor Aziz

[7] ibid


Zay's picture

Musical Ear Syndrome

My music just began last month. I am 77, female, was deprived of sounds for a long period of time, hard of hearing, have tinnitus, stressed and depressed. I finallygot a tablet that would play music while I was waiting for my TV to be hooked up. My brain music was quiet when I played music from the tablet so I thought a small stereo out here would be perfect to drown out the music. However, I found that my brain music fights with the stereo music and ruins it by also coming through the speakers. I had put on a CD of Natures carols. After the ocean sound, I heard the Ohio State University alumni song come through the left speaker and it ___
was played by bells. I have tried other CDs without success. Last night the brain music began to come through the tablet with certain songs. It is like a spoiled child. I feel as if I have another personality inside of me. I know this is not a psychosis and I am fortunate that my psychiatrist knew immediately what this was.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Music in my head is like radio station that plays music I love.

I want an app that will help me name that tune!

As it is great company and better than listening to a radio station or CD, I have been writing the names down, but so often, I don't know. Today, I awoke to a tune that I thought was a Hungarian Rhapsody. Not.
I haven't a clue what it is and I want to know.

Sadly, all the musician friends who are good with naming obscure pieces, are away for the summer or dead.

Hope someone will develop an app or a PC program that will help. Google has a way to ID photographs, sound of music is next, please.

marzekiel's picture

Music in my head is like radio station that plays music I love.

My "radio station" seems to be playing music all the time. It's usually songs, but often it's musical pieces of many usually classical composers (preferably baroque). This morning, it is Leonard Cohen's "Hey, that's no way, to say goodbye!"

I often try to ascribe meaning to the music that is playing, but, writing down many of the tunes for several days, I could not discern a pattern.

I've had this music in my head all my life. When I am engaged in a project or with people, the volume is down or off. When I am alone, not thinking or planning, the volume goes up again. Often I'll start humming or whistling along and it's a great joy.

Only once has it been relentless, intrusive and annoying: I had been rehearsing then performed a certain piece of music (I sing and perform classical/sacred music) and one piece kept playing again and again and again--long after the performance. FWIW, I think I rehearse music by it's repetition in my brain, but this was out of control. The same tune for days. I got so annoyed that I tried playing other pieces to distract me, but it came back with a vengeance. I can't remember what else I did to get rid of it, but it was the only time this bothered me.

shaelynn's picture

music in my head is like a radio

I forgot a couple of other things that may be relavent. I have menieres syndrome and really severe.tinnitus. Also whenever I am around a fan it can be a standing fan the kind used to cool a room in a home or a fan in a vent like in a bathroom I then I actually hear muffled music outside my head. Several times I've actually thought my kids or my neighbors were playing music when I was in the bathroom. I can hear what genre it is and the singer singing but I just can't make out the words. Has anyone experienced this. If so please reply.

shaelynn's picture

music in my head is like a radio

I was just in my bathroom that's when I hear the music most because there's no distractions and songs were coming into my head as usual but this time I happen to have my tablet with me so just out of curiosity I googled music in my head. I didn't expect any results that were the same thing I have I actually thought I might be the only one in the world it seemed like such an odd thing. I know people get a song stuck in their head now and then but I hear original music like a movie score all my life. Since I was a kid when I was sad I heard sad music and it even made me sadder sometimes the music was so sad it made me cry when I didn't feel like crying till I listened to the music a little. It was the same for happy times during my wedding ceremony I heard triumphant music kind of like Kelly Clarksons Moment Like This, but it was before her time. I'm replying to this comment because I ,m also a singer and ironically a songwriter too. Because l'm a song writer I feel this as a gift and a curse. Songs just come to me melodies anyway entire original songs verses choruses and even bridges and strangely a few lyrics will just chime in as if to let me know what the song should be about should I write it. That is the blessing part the curse part is I can literally hear up to 6 songs in one bathroom break and it's impossible to keep up so countless great songs have just gone with the wind. Anyway sorry to be so long winded I'm just excited I'm not the only one dealing with this. And by the way I forget to let you know I'm 42.

Lisa's picture

a gift and a curse indeed

When this phenomenon first started about 10 years ago, I heard a lot of original music, multiple harmonies, varying arrangements, male and female vocals at times, specific instruments at other times. I jotted down the musical notation for a while. I also heard music from very early childhood, some probably from my parents' record albums, as well as many genres of music. Once, on my birthday, I heard "Happy Birthday to You" sung. Kind of creepy. I've heard several songs playing simultaneously on occasion. There were times when after listening to "real" music, it would replay in my head very accurately. The inner music comes and goes at this point, a few months on, a few blessed months gone completely.

Larry's picture

Music in my brain

I am so glad to find this website and hope there is truly strength in numbers. I will share some of myself with you and have read many of your stories. I would welcome your feed back and any new ideas you might come up with.

I am 73 and have had noise in my ears for around 14 years. The noise can be called birds, rattling or others. I worked on flight lines while in the air force back in the 1950's and after leaving the service my main job had me traveling on airplanes for over 18 years.

The VA that I go to has been working with me and the set of hearing aids that include a U-direct system that has been a big help. This new sound in my brain, the music started this past January 2014. My friend and I were on a five month trip in my motor home traveling the south west looking for warm. In January I was working on the computer and realized that I was listening to some very beautiful music. I committed to my friend that I liked the radio station she was listening too. She informed me that there was no radio on and there was no music playing. I went over and turned on a radio and carefully tried to find the station to no avail. I even went outside and walked around the RV park we were staying in to try and find the source.

The next day I tried listening with my hearing aids in and out and it made no difference. The music remained and the volume did not change. I then got in the car and drove around with no radio on and the music was still present. At this point I realized that something new was going on. I realized that I was hearing the music in my brain not with my ears. I made contact with my VA doctor and made plans to see her when we returned in March.

In the meantime some slight changes were going on. Instead of complete songs back to back it began to play just parts of the songs like the ending or the chorus over and over. And then it began to play just a portion of the song over and over for up to 12 hours with no change. The songs that seem to be the most often played are The Green Green Grass of Home", His Truth is Marching On, Amazing Grace, Have I told You Lately That I Love You and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain. There are a few others but these are the most often.

This past Saturday nigh something very weird happened. As I laid down for the night and was trying to relax. I could here the bird noise I could also hear 2 accordions playing in harmony a song that sounded like the national anthem and then a choir was also singing Amazing Grace all at the same time. The volume of each was so that I could concentrate and listen to each but the others could still be heard. I thought to myself why would I ever need any one to talk with any one while all this is going on in my head. Now there are times when I can hear the birds and one of the songs and also some one talking. I can't seem to make out what they are saying but can hear a conversation going on.

The VA has been very helpful trying to find out what is going on. I have met with my main care provider and my hearing specialist they both had never heard of this problem. I was sent to have a CT scan to see if there was any dementia and was told there is none present. Next week I am to see a special ear nose and throat department. I don't see what they might find but I will not shut the door on any possible source of help.

That is my story,
Thanks for any replies from you

Serendip Visitor's picture

music on my mind

This is Larry and I am adding updated information to my earlier post.
Through the VA I have now taken a CT Scan and they found no dementia. I then took an MRI and they found no tumor. This past week I took an EEG and the doctor reported that nothing out of the ordinary was found. I am to go back and see the ear, nose and throat department for further study. The music has not stopped. The volume stays the same and some days the songs are complete and varied. Other days I get only a small part of a song and it may go over and over for up to 12 hours. It is about to get my nervous system to blow a gasket. There has got to be an answer to this. In all the research I have looked at I have not found one person say it stopped. If you have information on a cause or cure please let me know.
Thank you

Makeitstop's picture

Glad to see i'm not alone

I'm really happy to have found this blog. I quit smoking a year and a half ago after smoking for 10 years, and almost immediately after, the music began. It has not stopped since. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed there is a song playing. Any song.

I went to a psychiatrist who put me on Vyvanse, Ritalin and now Adderall. I'm able to focus better while on the drugs, but the music still plays. When I'm stressed out it becomes unbearably loud. I have to fight it while having a conversation with someone. Work meeting? Forget it. It's become quite burdensome.

I just want it to stop. I want to be able to read a book without losing my place because a song took over in my head, growing louder and louder and louder until I have to walk away.

Just about the only way I can stop hearing it is to actually listen to music. There's some kind of relief that comes from not producing the song in my head, and just listening.

Adam's picture

I've had this for years

I recently turned 27, and can hardly remember the last time my brain was silent. I wake up to a random track, and like many have mentioned, I can usually change it over to another "station." At times, the persistent music drives me almost to panic, when I think about it too much, and when too many other things are begging for my attention. My brother has the same issue, and has had it for some time, as well.

What I find interesting about my hallucinations is that many songs are rendered in incredible detail, with complete recall of the song, not just faint vocals, or a hook. These are songs that I couldn't likely even sing along with unconsciously.

There are only a few things that I can find to quell the music: binaural beats, noise (white of pink, usually,) and, of course, other music. Binaural beats involve headphones, and basically play one tone in one ear, and another tone a few Hz different in another ear. This causes your brain to interpret it like two strings playing slightly out of unison, and forming a beat of sorts. My theory is that because the brain is having to work on that interpretation of what it is hearing, perhaps it kills the self stimulation in the process. With noise, I wonder if I'm not just drowning out the mental music, as it's not as effective. I find that I require headphones almost constantly at work, just to be able to divert my mental energies to something productive. I lost the rubber ends to my headphones at the airport on a recent trip, and found the musical distraction almost crippling in terms of productivity. I suppose I never really thought about it as a sickness until that point.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Music in my head

Hello. I am 45 and have had this all of my life. I honestly thought it was normal until just a couple months ago. It's never occurred to me to tell my doctor about it. It just doesn't bother me honestly. It's almost always music I enjoy and listen to anyways. Just like some of the other posters, I can change the song at will. The only time it's actually a problem for me is when I am trying to sleep and if I'm attempting to meditate. If I'm attempting relaxation exercises or the like I have a really difficult time concentrating enough for it to be effective. For those who are thinking of committing suicide over it, don't do it. You can learn to get used to it over time. I have anxiety disorder and am depressed clinically but this started long ago before that was even a problem. I can always tell what the music is and by whom. It's as clear as if I'm listening to a cd. It only goes away when I am listening to actual music. I don't think it is due to lack of auditory stimulation as there is always some noise going on in my house. I do not live alone. I have taken Seroquel and it does nothing for the music. If you have this problem all I can say is hang in there.

Tim Webster's picture

Musical hallucinations documentary

I'm fascinated and intrigued by your experiences of musical hallucinations and am looking to produce a short documentary film on the subject. It would be human-focused, as opposed to looking at things from a scientific perspective, and celebrate and investigate the uniqueness of each experience and perspective you have.

I've been making films for 12 years and am a considerate, conscientious and professional filmmaker. The film would be very much a collaboration between myself and the its contributors.

If you are interested, in any way, please contact me!


Grove-R@'s picture


Please count me in, Tim! :-)

Serendip Visitor's picture

Musical Hallucinations

My mother recently started hearing music in her head as well. Over 80 yrs old, wears hearing aids, etc. It's very worrisome to see there are no cures or really anything that alleviates this. I worry about her sanity. She recently went to an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor, who also re-tested her hearing and is getting some new hearing aids in a few weeks, so maybe that will help. She has turned on every tv and radio in the house, and it doesn't seem to be helping. She went into the hospital in December, just for 2 days, for a possible TIA, but they didn't know if she had one and her MRI came back fine. She is taking Tramadal andI read that can cause this, as could a TIA? It's frustrating to not find anything online to relieve it. And she is already on enough medications that I would not like it for her to be on another one.

Dorothy's picture

Musical Ear Syndrome

I have had this for one and a half years. I did research on line....and eventually went to a Neurologist. He tested me with a 'fork' changing each week . I kept a record for 6 mo. No change. so I quit. I hear 2 voices...a tenor with a beautiful voice and a bass which joins at times (I have to keep 'him' in tune...It is amazing. I learned that I can't stop it....but I can change to ANY TUNE I WANT ...INSTANTLY my brain causes it to start....It sounds like the voices are way back in the bedroom...The Neurologist had me take an MRI....Results: NO BRAIN DAMAGE, OR SIGN OF STROKE, OR ALZHEIMERS...I will be 93 in June and in good health otherwise.....I take vitamins and one 30 mg Thyroid pill other medicines except an occasional PM to help sleep. for ordinary 'ills' . NO PAIN, NO HEADACHE....GETS A LITTLE ANNOYING UPON AWAKING, BUT I QUICKLY CHANGE IT....OR TURN ON TV....AT SENIOR CHOIR PRACTICE, I LEAVE WITH THE MUSIC WE PRACTICED playing' ...NOT LIKE IT'S RECORDED BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS IN THE 2 SAME VOICES. I DO ALL MY OWN WORK....BANK STATEMENTS....I only share with closest friends and family. Was a pastor's wife 56 years....loved music all my life...know all the words as 'they' sing, so at times i like it, but pray it will disappear. Thanks for listening....Wish I could share this with others. God bless you.....Dorothy
I can handle this....God is good....I still drive....

Danyelle's picture

What if 2 people hear the

What if 2 people hear the music at the same time?This past weekend going to my grandmother's funeral,my son who is 16 was riding with my mother who is 60 in her SUV.She always plays gospel music in her truck,well they both told me that while her gospel music was playing all of a sudden rap music started playing over the gospel music.They both said that they could hear it.It happened not too long after my mom asked my son did he want to listen to the radio and he said that he was fine with listening to her music.They said it came on one time for a few seconds,there was some cursing in the lyrics,it went off then came back on louder the second time as if it was trying to drown out the gospel music.They said that they thoroughly checked the truck to try and find where it was coming from but didn't find a thing.My son listens to music all the time.I thought it was rather strange

Serendip Visitor's picture

Musical Ear Syndrome

I haven't read all the responses of others share their MES stories but I will. It seems to me those who are writing about this experience-not the visitors, the 'experts'-are not describing this experience very well. Folks I've told will say, "everyone sings songs in their heads" But WE are not repeating tunes in our own voices WE are hearing as if we were with a radio, in an auditorium...even, in my case, in a sports stadium. We hear the actual voices and solos and choruses and we hear individual instruments or, in the case of classical music, the entire orchestra We even hear the roar of the crowds, the applause and the whistles when the crowds are pleased. I do not listen to sports or watch them. I do not like some of the songs I've heard and I've heard songs that, with research I discovered don't exist. Sometimes, it's true, a song can be 'stuck' and repeat but I have found I can change that song by quickly concentrating on something I like. In my humble opinion, we are NOT hallucinating We are accessing sounds that the brain has recorded. I suspect it may be possible someday to hear the voices of people who have died but I haven't made any real effort yet. One thing I haven't yet learned to do is control the volume. It must be very quiet for me to hear very well, though I'm not agreeing that this is caused by the absence of noise and think anyone should go to a nursing home to receive outside noise stimulation. What an absurd thing to even suggest. Anyway, I'm not yet displeased at this new ability, I'm fascinated

Charlies angel's picture

Music has become part of my brain

I have been experiencing this anomaly for several years now. I can't remember when it started because I was so afraid to let anyone know, I pretended it didn't exist. I'm now 34 years old and I believe it started in my late 20's. I experience the music most of the time though I have learned to "tune" (no pun intended) it out. Sometimes I still believe the music is real because it can be so loud. Once I realize that it's in my head, I typically can placate it. Sometimes I know the song, other times I do not. Sometimes it can be music I don't enjoy even, like rap. It varies. I hear rock, rap, classical, Christian, gospel.... It used to scare me because I thought it would over take me and I would lose all perception of reality. Though I think understanding it and yourself is the key to living with this successfully. It does not have to be a burden. Maybe it is a coping mechanism... I only know that your perception of it will make all of the difference. Besides the music, I also have a lot of ringing in my ears. I don't know if this can be attributed to whatever is also creating my brain to hear this music. Regardless, it has become a part of me and I can see clearly through the fog. I feel more comfortable speaking about it now that I realize I am not alone and it may not be as taboo as I had once thought.

Serendip Visitor Kevin's picture

Music in my head

I am nearly 80, I have poor hearing and I have had tinnitus for 33 years. I've experienced this music in my head for several months. Some of the songs are choirs sung by males and females. At other times it is instrumental music. A lot of the music is unknown to me, although often it is very pleasant. If a chorus gets too repetitive, I can change it at will to any song I know. A lot of the time I prefer this music to my never-ending tinnitus. Several years ago, I became aware of hearing every so often what I first believed to be a mosquito buzzing near my head. From time to time I hear the sounds of far -away roosters crowing in the early morning. I recently visited a neurologist and he said he had never heard of my symptoms in his 40 years experience. In effect, he doesn't believe me.

Serendip Visitor's picture

musical hallucination syndrome

My aunt, who is 88, has been experiencing this musical hallucination syndrome, since Feb. 2013. She has a hearing loss, lives alone, and has fallen twice in recent years. She hears religious songs in her native language and in English also, all the time. The only time she doesn't hear music, is when she is in a conversation with someone, or turns on the TV or radio. It is like these postings say; the brain is in need of stimulation and will produce sounds in her "memory bank". I was hoping that I would find an answer or a remedy for this problem, because she says that she loves the religious songs and loves the Lord, but hearing these songs, over and over is annoying. Her mind is still sharp as ever, but needs an answer soon as to how to get rid of the constant music in her head. I'm afraid she's going to get very depressed and moody. I imagine a person could get very irritable and unhappy to not be able to control this thing, so if anyone has healing solutions; please help!!!

Ken Fix's picture

"iPod Brain"

Through what i have read in what people have sent me and through the research i have done, this musical occurrence happens either at a very early age, or after the age of 70. I have read that signs of depression and thoughts of suicide (probably because of listening to the same song over and over again), but the thoughts of suicide are usually not that strong. I sometimes thought of the idea of suicide, but what I have done (and others too) was to think any good things that will be coming your way. What i have also learned is that the musical hallucinations stop if we are listening to music, having a conversation, or just watching TV (as you stated in you comment). I'm still looking in to this topic for more answers, such as if it is hereditary or if there is some type of medicine to cure it. I don't know of anyway of cure, but i found that a moderate amount of socialization has helped to calm it. Also, what i can necessarily do is change the song repeating in your head (What i do is to try and remember i song that i liked, a song that i haven't heard repeat in my head). For me i can just change the songs by will, and i guess with some "mental practice" you can learn to cope with it. If i ever hear of any solution to get rid of the music, i will share it with you as soon as possible.

Best wishes for you and your Aunt.
(sorry for any grammatical errors)

Mary Harrington's picture

better for the last 4 days

I am 71 years old, and do NOT live alone, but with my husband who frequently has the television on. So I am not isolated from noise. However, I have had a stressful (yet happy) life, raising my eleven children, homeschooling the youngest four, and then writing an accredited 5 year high school Latin course. Three months ago the music began. By last Monday I told my doctor that I would commit suicide if he could not cure me. I could not sleep at night. I meant it. He prescribed Seroquel, which happens to be for schizophrenia, but I don't think I have that, nor does he. So happy! I have slept for four nights now, although it does take about an hour to make me relax and quit hearing the music. I still have it during the day unless I have the TV or radio on, but that's not the hard part. The really hard part, as you all know, is lack of sleep at night. You might want to ask your doctor about this medicine.

Trenton's picture

Hi, I'm turning 13 on april 18

Hi, I have had these songs in my head (Currently playing right now) ever since 1st grade. Their starting to get a little annoying (Considering that I am in 7th grade now, 3rd tri) but it's too much to explain, of what I have researched of my self. Yes, I self research myself because I am trying to find a solution... I have thought of killing myself over this multiple times, other disorders include OCD, ADHD, Anxiety disorder, Cognitive thinking disorder, and the "Tic" disorder (Which I have overcome 75 percent), etc... If someone could help me with my research on this... I would appreciate it a lot :).


Grades = O.K, Good (A's, B's, C's)
Special Education = Yes :)/ :(
8 classes a day, 45-47minutes each (Class start, tardy bell, and class end bell included)
Lunch = Very loud (Mixed grade lunch), certain tones and phrases trigger certain songs and tones (Applies for overall facts, if you know what I mean... I can't make much sense right now... Can't think right...)

Hope this is enough information to help... It might be too much... :)

Sincerely, Trenton

Chef Jeff Tendick's picture

Hang in there, my friend!

This disorder can be caused by a number of things, but the greatest cause, as I have discovered in my research, has to do with a nerve in the ear. Apparently if it is not stimulated enough the brain starts to create impulses that mimic sounds. This disorder rarely has any cause from mental illness or other such causes.


My advice is to hang in there. Yes, go to a doctor, and if you don't get an answer, go to another doctor. But tell them you don't want medication, because that usually doesn't really work. Tell them you want someone to get you into a study to determine not only the cause, but a real cure. I tried that when I was your age, but no one thought I really had this problem. Nut that was long ago, and I had other problems, so my musical ear syndrome was blamed on that, end of story, go home and have a nice life.

I do find that when I listen to some kinds of music, it gets worse. I love Led Zeppelin but on their faster songs, MES gets worse. It's like I hear the song repeated in my head just a millisecond after the actual musical sound. On their slower songs, I rarely notice any MES. The same goes for when I hear symphonic orchestras, classical guitar, and songs that tend to make you slow down a bit. No MES when hearing them.

Here is another source you can use for your research. I hope some of this helps you, but remember, DO NOT TAKE YOUR LIFE OVER THIS!!! I also thought of that and now many years later I am so glad I didn't!!! I have a wonder life, my wife loves me, and I love her, and my grown kids are always a huge and happy part of my life! I wold have missed all this if I had given in and killed myself. OK?


Migael's picture

I also have this

Hi, my name is Migael and I'm from South Africa. I am 15 years old and a lot more mature than other people my age, I mostly listen to electronic music, but there is always a song playing in my head, I acctually thought this was normal for people who listen a lot of music, but then I asked a friend who also listens the same kind of music a lot and he said he doesn't know what I'm talking about. After reading a few pages on a famous DJ I went to research this. I always hear my own music, most of the time I can identify the artist, song and I can recreate every note and voice, the song is very clear. I also have the ability to skip the song by thinking about it, at first nothing happens but when I forget I thought about the song it changea to that song. It is very anoying and I have trouble sleeping and studying, my grades arn't to bad, but I know they can improve if I could stop the song.

Geddes Hamilton-Yates's picture

playing the same song on my instrument repetitively in my head

I play the lead instrument in a band and one of my favourite songs is Mas Que Nada. My problem is I cannot seem to stop playing the song in my head. It's just non- stop. It's always there, even while writing this. I try to play other songs but this song keeps repeating itself over and over again. It is there NON-STOP. Am I having a breakdown or something? HELP.
G.Y. London

Johnathan's picture

music hulicinations

well. i disagree. when this happens to me there IS music in reality, but its always like in a anime series, out-lines on them. blurs, powers, anything and everything i want to happen to "them". but seems the one i focus on is like a dragon. but hes only 7'1 and stands like a man. he also speaks like a man. and he ALWAYS wears gothic styled cloths. a long black leather over-coat. a black shirt underneath, shoulder spikes, black spiked gloves, and a black cow-boy hat.

David's picture

hallucinating music

I thought a neighbor was playing his radio too loudly, but then realized the sound was in my head, occurring whenever the room was silent. The sound is always a man singing the same or a similar song, no instrumental accompaniment. It may vary in volume and pitch, and it seems to stop when there is any other sound in the room, such as my wife speaking to me, or music on the radio. I am 91 and have been using hearing aids for about 10 years. I would like this to stop. I am thinking of getting an iPod to block the soundb with other music!

Chef Jeff's picture

reply to your comment

David, I learned that Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy actually got into trouble in WWII when she told the FBI she heard enemy radio broadcasts in her head. She told them she thought maybe there was something in her brain that picked up the signals, like an old crystal radio set of that time. She said at times it was like voices, but also like Morse code, dots and dashes. Anyway, the FBI dismissed it and she had no further trouble, but a lot of people thought she was crazy. I don't think she was, but what she heard may have been like the I Pod Brain syndrome most of us seem to have.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Maybe so

Hm.... That maybe so. But I wonder if it's because we have unlocked some of our brain and don't know how to use it.

Chef Jeff Tendick's picture

Maybe so...

True, it could be some part of the brain that normally is not open to us. Whether or not that is good, I could not say. I do know that at times it can drive you crazy, but other times it seems rather soothing.


Kimberly Arment's picture

i thought i was crazy....

I'm a 49 year old mostly healthy woman living in Missouri (USA)...i've heard these ..i'll call them like radio broadcasts.....for years.....almost convincing myself that i was hearing a vibration in the house from wires or something of some kind....recently i've started hearing it in the day time......the volume is just under where i can actually make it out. A lot of the music i've heard before, but can't swear to the lyrics....i try to strain to hear them, and they just sound the same...
i'll hear several songs, then i'll hear like someone doing a broadcast...(the talking part) then it will go back to songs...sometimes i get the idea they are classic rock (what i did grow up with) some sound like folk music, and some like jazz (60's). It makes sense that it would be something that i've heard before, and since i was born in 1963, this type of music stands to reason.
If you have any ideas how i can solve this , i would greatly appreciate it. I'm feeling like alot of the others on here, embarrassed, alone, and wondering if i am really crazy.....
please help.....

Serendip Visitor's picture

musical hallucinations

Like the last person to post, I bought an MP3 player for when it's at its worst. Fortunately, it's been a much milder phenomenon lately. It seems to come and go with me. The only thing that's helped is meditation, using inhalation and exhalation as a focus. It seems to wrest attention away from the music and it dies down.

Serendip Visitor's picture

my mom

My daughter in law sent me this link after I mentioned that my mom was complaining of hearing the same tune for hours at a time. She is 82 years old and has suffered hearing loss, plus an optic nerve stroke in one eye that she is now bling in. Mom has been telling me for about two weeks now that she hears a mans voice singing a high and low pitched song. It starts early evening but she says she can usually go to sleep around 10. Tonight is the first time she has said the song changed to a different tune, Ava Maria. She is obscessed with this to the point of going outside to see if our neighbor was playing music and even opening her bedroom window to listen, setting our alarm and scaring the you know what out of me. I actually thought it was some kind of frequency from her hearing aids but she took them out and still heard it. I am going to make an appointment to take her to her doctor tomorrow but would love to keep checking back on this page to see if anyone has had any break through they could share. I am so hesitant to let her doctor put her on even more meds. She is on so many. Please feel free to email me.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Mother hearing music at night

When my mom was about the same age she would tell me that there were some men outside her window at night singing Barbershop Quartet music. She also had hearing loss. I said it must be in your head. She insisted that she heard them each night and that it was real. I hate to tell you this but she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a year or so later. I don't know if these sound hallucinations are related to Alzheimer's or not.

Whistonite's picture

Musical hallucinations

Hi there, Last week (Wednesday) I called to visit my mum, a healthy, fit 78 year old. She was distraught because she said the neighbours had been playing sad songs since Sunday all through the day and night. It was Abide With Me, the Welsh National Anthem, Marlene Mallone or something from the 1940s and others - she was convinced I would be able to hear the songs as she could sing the words and hear every note. I couldn't hear a thing. I went in every room in the house and even put a glass to the wall but could hear nothing except silence. My mum was so upset she thought she had good neighbours and now she was convinced they were doing their best to send her crazy - she wasn't sleeping because of the music. She said it stopped when my brother visited - she thought they had turned it off because they had seen him arrive - it started up again when he left. I even went gto look in the loft as she couldn't understand where the music was coming from. I came home and looked on the internet and found a link for Musical Ear Syndrome which sounded like exactly what she had. I took Mum to the doctors who prescribed a short course of sleeping tablets, and told her to make an appointment for 2 weeks time. Mum is now taking the tablets every other night but is not sleeping on the nights she doesn't take them. She is really worried that this will never go away and that she is going crazy. I will post again on here after her next doctor's visit. Interestingly, when I was small we lived in a terraced house next door to an elderly lady who was nicknamed "Potty Sally" as she used to bang on the walls and tell us to turn the music down even though we weren't playing any - I am wondering if this poor lady was also suffering from the same thing - this was about 50 years ago!!

Serendip Visitor's picture

Ipod Brain

From what I've read and what I've tried, no medication seems to help with this. Seems like so many things can cause it. It's been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, but meds for that did nothing. I'm single, and spend too much time at home. I've read that lack of enough auditory stimulation can cause it. I also abruptly stopped taking an SSRI anti-depressant just before the music started 4 or 5 years ago. Who knows? It continues to be a very bizarre experience. Sometimes, the music skips like a record. It has a sense of humor (like me) and will seamlessly throw some 50's doo-wap into a totally inappropriate tune. It will sing my thoughts as lyrics sometimes. I can influence the music by imagining a piano keyboard and playing it in my mind, or replace some repetitive tune by thinking of another, but I can't shut it off. It'll repeat almost verbatim some real music I just listened to. Soon after it first started 5 years ago, it played some orchestral piece, and then I heard some fancy baroque ending. I thought "Thank God, that's the end of it". But then, it added on another frilly ending ornamentation, and another and another. It was pretty funny, but I wanted to shoot myself.

The music comes and goes. After the past 2 months of it, just this afternoon, I noticed that it disappeared again. Ah, sweet peace and quiet. For now.

Peggy Henderson's picture

music in my head

I am 71 years old, live alone and hear the same violin music over and over 24/7. I have hearing aides that don't seem to increase the volumn of the music. Beside the music, I think I hear the fan running from the heat pump (which isn't on). It is wild to think that I can not hear the TV or radio or even people talking but I hear the fan and the music. Many times at bed time I think I hear inclement weather winds rumbling around. At first I thought all of this was an ear problem. But now I know it is a brain thing. Guess it needs more stimulation. thank you

Ezieshi MichaelBrain's picture

constant music in my head,perfect but crazy i-pod

I have been on this path for ages now and i am just 24yrs old. The music changes from one to the next and sometimes some tracks would be on replay for a while. They are all usualy songs i have heared before. Also when i am asleep i hear conversations so loud in my head. I also observed that i have the ability to know things before they happen or as they are happening i sence them and later the news wolud conferm them.I am in need of scientists to study my case. My phone number is . I wish to understand why this happens to me. I hope i am not going crazy.

Chef Jeff Tendick's picture

Music in my head

From the look of things this is not some rare thing. I do not know if doctors would call it a disease. At times I love the songs I hear, and at times, as someone said above, it keeps me from actually hearing what others say. Some seems to be caused by medication, while other times it seems to be just normal to some of us. I wonder if there is any medical research or interest in that? I would love to know why, even if I do not necessarily want it to stop. At my age I can't imagine a day without my music. I just wish at times i could write down the songs I hear because they can be original, and perhaps they would sell! Cheers!

lisadiane55's picture

bell tones and other music

I also occasionally hear bell tones or notes that go up a third, completing one octave, sung in male voices. I hear all sorts of genres, often slow-paced, male choruses, female, both together with overlapping parts, harmonies, instrumental, and sometimes original or unknown melodies. I've written some down. The phenomenon comes and goes. It drifts in for up to a month, then stops, but it always returns. Sometimes, it sounds like Christian hymns. I'm Jewish. Maybe it came from movie scenes (??). When real music, that I'm listening to stops, I'll hear it continue in my head sounding like the original. I've had neurological testing, which showed normal results. It's very bizarre. When it first began about 5 years ago, it was incredibly varied and creative. I heard a lot from early childhood, albums my parents owned, children's songs, tv jingles, even my grandfather's voice singing a Passover prayer. (I was four when he died). I wish I knew what causes this, electrical impulses run amok, I guess.

jenjen's picture

music just comes often in my head

I love music. Since i was around 3 y/o i always hear music while im playing my toys. From then on, i became so interested about music, i often sing with whatever is played on the radio. At the age of 4, they said i love singing and later on, i play piano but not for long. Music, became my friend, my comfort, since i am aloner. Even to where i was staying when i was working in other country, the music became my refuge. It makes me feel good, patient and always bring peace to my inner self. And because too much music in my head, it becomes a problem sometimes, it bothers me especially when i need to focus on things, like i loose my track to what i should actually be doing ... and talking to some people that i let them repeat what they just said.....

D Gallman's picture

My case is different

I make music im a producer and audio engineer Once about 7 years ago I made a melodic instrumental and while I was mixing the sound I heard a note from an instrument I know I didnt use it was one note that lasted 2 bars within a 32 bar sequence it was very beautiful. I tried to locate it by turning off one track at a time until I turned off the last track ( no music out of the speakers ) I heard the note again in the one spot it has been playing. I then unplugged everything and thought each sound thru in my head and at the excact spot where the note started I heard it again clearly by its self It happened only once in my life. I can say I was very relaxed at the time and really into the track I was making. Any thoughts on this please let me know. Im sure I can make it happen again at will

Chef Jeff Tendick's picture

Music in my head

Sometimes I believe that certain musical tones have a mind resonance all their own. They trigger an emotion inside us. I will hear a barbershop quartet singing and they at times make what is called a bell tone - multiple harmonics from only four voices. I have heard up to sixteen harmonics at times. And depending upon the key in which these occur, they can trigger happiness, sadness, serenity, anger, and many other emotions. I know of a few other people who also have this experience. Some harmonics even mimic voices speaking a word or words.

Barbershop quartets are considered to be really good if they can create this bell tone effect. And like other sounds and noises, they can have some effect upon the listener. Does anyone else in this forum ever notice this?

popat's picture

Musical Problem

hi, i am an indian..if i go back to the root cause of problem..when i was in college i used to stay alone and listen music a lot..then i found that i has some tumor..i got operated and went ahead in life...but somehow found that i can hear music without musicplayer on..i enjoyed in the begining but later get bored by such experience.. then i ve got bells palsy and suffered with tinnitus...which was very loud ..but gradually it only when i get cold..i hear it...

One important point to tell you that when i get depressed, confused, lonly, then these songs start coming more and when i do meditation or do some spritual activities i feels a lot better and songs can be stop by 80-90%. now by reading at this blog i think i will
do more meditation....and get rid of this problem...

Usually this problem starts in morning when i wake up...till i take a shower it persist but when i drive my car it disappear for the whole day and comes back when i reach back home and sits ideal..

We should control over emotions and try to live well....

smithponee's picture

hearing music

I read recently that there is a thing called Musical Ear Syndrome. It it something caused by hearing loss and most common in women, and those who live alone, due to lack of auditory stimulation. You can google it and it will give you alot of infor

kay cleone's picture

musical hallucinations

SO GLAD to hear (no pun intended, but lol!!) that I'm not alone in this, and yet sad for my fellow sufferers!!! I have had this problem over a year, CONSTANT: waking, sleeping, inside, outside, --WHEREVER--WHENEVER--one of three instrumental arrangements (lightly orchestral,( even some intricate Peruvian flute riffs!!( with harmonies, overlapping patterns, tempos varied according to tempos in my environment, volume rising to compete with outside sounds, BUT CONSTANT!!!! None of the Kaiser doctors, or other physicians I've been seen by admit they know either anything about it, OR anyone else who had or has it!! They ask if I ever hear voices, or have tinnitus, but I've never had either. As my mother before me, I am losing clarity in my hearing, but mine, I think, may have something to do with a VERY LOUD home environment!! my loss is in the low tones, right where my husband's rich, deep voice is! (at first, he said,"Oh, you just don't WANT to hear what I'm saying!! lol ) I quipped, "Mostly!!"lol ) But, hearing tests confirmed I did have loss, but because the "music" gets louder with ambient sound, hearing aids (at $5000.00 each ear!!!) don't help much, the music volume raises to try to drown out the conversations I so value!!!!

jeff's picture

depression and sounds

Hi,i am glad to see this site. I am 34 yr old male and have suffered from this problem of heaing heavy metal in my head.It went away for a while few yrs bout 2 weeks ago started back i used to listen to very dark metal and industrial God i need help.Taking celexa 40 mg but its giving me the shakes.Profuse sweating too.I used to take it but now i am sick and not sleepn.I am very depressed.Help anyone for advice.I hope i am not schizophrenic.

Serendip Visitor's picture



I know your posting was last year, but wondering if you have had any progress with this. I too have had dpression, OCD, and now this stupid music as I am trying to fall asleep. Somewhere I read, they called it "Hypersomnia"...where your brain starts dreaming before you fall asleep. (I like that idea - better than being crazy). Please drop me aline if you have time. It is nice to know we are not alone on this thing.

Take care!

JANET ROWE's picture

musical hallucination s

Hi, I can understand how you feel as I have had this condition non-stop for over four years now. The noises in my head are nonsensical words to musical tones. For example, at the moment is is:' te low ta lat,te low ta lat'. At some point the nonsensical words will change something different but equally bizarre. The volume increases the more tense I am when I am around a lot of electricity for example in gyms with their running machines and other equipment, or in shopping centres, especially those with lots of stores selling computers iPods et cetera. The only medication that I have found helpful is temazepam as it reduces the volume. I assume that this is because it is a muscle relaxants and and relaxes all the muscles, including those around the neck and head. I believe that musical hallucinations have both physical and psychological causes. I believe that, in my case, the physical cause is a spinal subluxation (crooked spine)which causes the neck muscles to tighten, bringing pressure to neck and head. The psychological element is that I seem to use the noises to distract myself from pain (I have a chronic pain condition – fibromyalgia), and to avoid uncomfortable emotions such as embarrassment. The noises are so bad that I cannot work, I find it difficult to read, a short-term memory is non-existent sometimes. I keep losing things, and putting things in strange places such as the phone in the freezer. Sometimes I feel that I'm going mad or i get so I get so angry and central nervous system seems so ennnervated that I have to scream, kick walls or anything else that is close by. You are not schizophrenic.

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