#2301: InterruptEar

Several members of my family are subject to earworms…fragments of music which they not only hear playing repeatedly inside their heads -but with which they tend to sing along.

Even though the singing is well done, listening to the same line of a gallic ballad 50 times in succession can be somewhat trying.


Today’s invention is a system to reduce the domestic noise pollution.

A microphone attached to a computer detects any snatches of sound which are repeated more than a few times.

When this has happened, a program is triggered which plays a random, fresh piece of music through speakers.

The best substitute is usually a piece which contrasts sharply in style with the last earworm.

A more sophisticated version of this idea would therefore identify the song being sung and choose a new tune which has a very different musical tone and tempo.

A related approach would be used for family members singing along tunelessly whilst listening to music through headphones. An external mic would listen for singing outside the headphones or earbuds and in the event of any unfortunate tendency to karaoke, it would cut off the music for, say, five minutes.

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