My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas, my house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It's fun here, you'll see!

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February 20th, 2009


This morning on my drive in to work, my attempts to educate myself on the nation’s economic situation were once again thwarted by a seemingly endless commercial for bath fixtures so, I switched off the news station and turned on my iPod. I put the thing on shuffle when I drive so that I don’t crash into anyone while I’m looking for a song. But, I still have to skip through handfuls of songs at a time, because I am realizing two things about the music I own:

1) I am getting bored with most of it
2) I only like specific parts in a lot of songs

Problem #1 is pretty common, and easily solved: Cough up a few bucks for some new music and revisit the old stuff in a few months. But problem #2 indicates that I may be ill. I have dozens of songs that I will never fully play from start to finish. I’ll listen to a desired section, and then skip forward. Not only does this drive passengers in my car crazy, but it makes me feel guilty for being so disrespectful of the musicians. I’m clearly not well. I think I have…


I can’t help it! Maybe I just want to listen to the melody, and not a long saxaphone solo (sorry Chris Potter). Or maybe it’s that some songs go on for far too long. In fact, I’ve set my iPod to start Tony Williams’ Allah Be Praised at 3:51 so that I can skip right to the cool organ part that I like. Often, part of a song might make me uncomfortable- for instance any time there is sing-talking, or that weird circus part of Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat & Tears. If you ever ride in my car, I’m warning you- do not get attached to anything coming out of the stereo because it could be over at any second.

Then there’s the reverse: I will listen to an entire four minute song just to hear literally five (5) eighth notes that happen at two minutes thirty seconds. And I will listen to those eighth notes 4oo times in a row before I allow the song to play to the end. Or I’ll listen to the last forty seconds of Fauré’s Libera Me 16 times in a row. To me, this is the more fun of the two symptoms of Schizomusiphrenia, but anyone riding with me wants to hurl themselves on the freeway after hearing the same piano solo 840 time.

Pray for my passengers. I can’t help myself, and they are the unfortunate victims of my condition.

2 comments to Schizomusiphrenia

  • Anonymous

    This would not happen if you listened exclusively to Cheap Tric, The Knack and David Shaw & The Round Trip. 🙂

  • Jeffrey Lemkin

    Be of good cheer, Liz! You are not alone. When I’m in my office, listening to a playlist in the background, I often realize that – I’m tired of music – some music I can listen to over and over and over, but some. . .hey, I can only take so much, then I need. . .something else. So – part A)You’re cool – others have this issue
    B) Listening to songs. This provided me with tremendous comfort as I believed I was the only person to do this. In fact, for some pop songs, there’s often just a chunk of 8 bars or so that I *want* to hear – then I immediately flip to another song – often speeding through it to get to the part that I like in *that* one. It’s good to know you’re not alone, and comforting to know that instead of “schizomusicophrenia”, we may actually enjoy the privileged status of Musical Segmentation Disorder (MSD) a rare illness that causes sufferers to enjoy only certain parts of some songs. By the way, have you read Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks? If you haven’t, you oughtta. It’s a trip through parts of the brain that cause us to make, understand and respond to music – done exclusively – in Sacks’ inimitable style – through case analysis of people who’ve suffered unusual ailments or changes in perception – sometimes *very* unusual changes. In an earlier work, Sacks talked about the case of a guy who’d had a small tumor removed from his brain. When he recovered, he was unable to use or understand verbs, although he was perfectly comfortable with nouns. How wonderful and weird is *that*!

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