I Hear Music!


I hear music! I'm not referring to the normal phenomena of listening to the radio, CD player, iPod or anything similar. It's the music that comes to me mostly at night or in the wee hours of the morning with no player of any kind. In all fairness, it's not always music. When I hear it just before I get up in the morning, it often sounds like news or weather. Occasionally, it sounds like dialog. However, it is usually music.


It's usually a far away sound. Clear words, spoken or sung, are very rare. Once this summer, at two or three in the morning, it was louder than usual, but still not clear. I thought that it might be something the road workers were playing. I quickly dismissed that idea because a) I doubt they would have been allowed to play music loud enough for me to hear it blocks away and b) it was not a recent style of music. That's another interesting thing about this music. It seems to reflect all eras and styles. The two most frequently represented are music of the thirties (such as I've heard in movies) and country music.


This is something I've experienced off and on for many years. Until this summer, it was rare enough that I didn't think about it. Since summer, however, it's an almost nightly event. So much so that now I miss it if I don't have music when I go to sleep. I find it comforting, especially after a stressful day. It's frequency also has made me wonder where it comes from and why I hear it. There are several theories.


The first theory is one I came up with when it was a rare occurrence. Even in the stillness of the night various machines are running – the furnace or air conditioner, a fan, the refrigerator. They may perhaps be filtered through the house itself, or things like doors, curtains, or furniture. They create a certain rhythm and my brain interprets it as music.


The next theory is something I learned this summer. People who have a ringing in the ear caused by hearing loss will often interpret any sounds they can't quite understand as music. That's essentially the same as the first theory, but with scientific backing. I'm not sure if this is a replacement for the ringing, but it seemed that that was what the article I read implied. The ringing I have is very minor, but it does not go away when I hear this music. This hearing loss phenomenon is also not time dependant. I should also be able to hear it during the day. I have never heard it once I'm up, during the day (although I do often hear it at night before I get to bed as well as after I've gone to bed or just before getting up). If this it, my creativity is better than I thought. Once in a while it's classical music and it really sounds good to me!


A controversial theory is that my fillings are picking up broadcasts. This theory would explain the changing nature of what I hear, and why sometimes it sounds like news or weather reports. I know someone who has heard this in another's mouth, but also saw it debunked on Mythbusters.


A little farther out is that my brain can receive broadcasts. This is something my Mom read and told me about. I would be very interested to find out more about it, but she didn't recall where she read it.


Related to this idea is a theory that I came up with. I remember being told as a child that sound waves go on forever. I'm sure many people have read about the misunderstanding aliens might have about us because of the old radio and television broadcasts reaching them. I have often wondered if it's possible for those broadcast waves to bounce around, staying on Earth. If they can and do, everything is still around us, and perhaps some of us can still capture them when everything else is quiet. I don't claim that this is true, but it's as logical as any of the above theories.


A final theory is that I'm hearing the music of the angels. Yeah... Well, that's the kind of thing one comes up with when hearing music at four in the morning. Since I have no conclusive answers to what it is that I'm hearing, it stays on the list.


The music is primarily thirties movie music and country. These are not the kind of music I would choose to listen to. There are exceptions, however. I specifically remember hearing golden oldies from the sixties one night and in that same week, hearing what sounded like between stations on the radio, with country and rock fading in and out over each other. Another night I woke up to a beautiful song. I still couldn't make out words, but the voice sounded a lot like my son's voice. (This is when I came up with the Angel theory.)


Once in a while, something is very clear. A few weeks ago we had a very cold spell (for Oregon). I woke up at about ten a.m. to what was sounding like a weather report. And sure enough I clearly heard the word “Cold!” as if it were being emphasized the way weathermen often do.  


This morning it happened again. It was news this time and a bit later, but still very quiet here. I wasn't particularly paying attention, but thinking about what I wanted to get done today when I clearly heard the signoff  “This is CBN.”  I didn't know what CBN was and I was trying to think of what the C stood for in “___ Business News.”  After I got up, I looked it up. Not business news at all. It's Christian Broadcast Network.  Hmmm.... that may explain the angelic music, but I'm not at all sure about rock music. I don't know that they play old movies, either, though that could explain the old movie music from the thirties and occasionally forties, if they do.


I don't know what it is in reality, if it even is reality and not my imagination. I don't care. Wherever it comes from, I seem to have found the 'on' button and I can listen most nights. It's a pleasant way to fall asleep and I plan to do that for as long as I hear music.


F. Shafer Junaid


The Why-I-don't-use-word-processor-suggestions-for-word-choice version of 'I Hear Music!'