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The Human Jukebox

Peter Curran finds out why we sing to ourselves and if it is possible to get rid of phrases of music that we find stuck in our heads.

Do you sing in the bath, whistle in the corridors, or hum nervously waiting on the phone?
Why do we sing to ourselves, do we even know we are doing it, and what about those infuriating phrases of music that we find stuck in our heads?
It seems that 90% of the population have experienced the mysterious playing of the 'Human Jukebox' - either whole tunes or short repetitive phrases. Whether to hide embarrassment, pass the time in a mundane job, or celebrate a happy moment, unconscious singing or whistling is a common trait.
Peter Curran, a self-hummer, explores a phenomenon which is under increased investigation.
As our understanding of the brain increases, so we can gather more understanding of how we relate to music, and that includes how so we select tunes from our internal jukebox.
Peter Curran, finds out from Professor Paul Robertson, founder of the Medici Quartet, the connection between music and emotion, and Dr Lauren Stewart, Reader in Psychology at Goldsmiths University, about her research project into the origination and nature of earworms, (or 'Ohrwurm' as they were originally described in German).
Pop producer Clive Langer, writer David Stafford and an assortment of human jukeboxes also share their compulsion to sing out loud.
Next time you find yourself whistling in the bath, maybe you'll understand more about what you are doing.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

If you'd like to know more about Dr Lauren Stewarts research project you can look online at:

Available now

20 minutes

Last on

Sat 18 Jul 2015 19:15

Music Played

  • George Frideric Handel

    Coronation Anthem 'Zadok the Priest', HWV 258 (excerpt)

    Choir: Ten Pieces Children's Choir. Orchestra: BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
  • Anna Meredith

    Connect It