Are You Having A Worm In Your Ear?

The other day, I was reading about composer and conductor Allan Wilson, who was conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra in Abu Dhabi.  In his interview, he mentions that sometimes a melody gets stuck in his head and he can’t get it out of his head, so much so, that the melody won’t let him sleep.  Allan Wilson says the Americans call this having ‘a worm in your ear’.  (The maestro refers to himself as a cockney lad who grew up in the East Side of London).  The phrase ‘a worm in your ear’, struck me on two accounts.  On the first account, I heard myself exclaim, “Upon my word!  I also have a worm in my ear!”  I will get back to this in a little while.  On the second account, I am not sure whether Allan Wilson refers to ‘a worm in your ear’, only for a melody, or expands the domain-connectivity of the ‘worm’ to: matter of any, many thoughts.  If the wholeness is to be considered, then, most of us do get some issue or the other stuck in our heads.  You will agree, the nature of these issues has the ability to surface particularly in the middle of night.  Like Allan Wilson’s favorite instrument, (the trumpet), our issues become the ‘trumpet’ in our ear at any odd hour of the night!  And who is the trumpet-player?  The worm, I guess!


Reverting to the first account: of a melody getting stuck in the head, at the cost of one’s sleep – the rewards in return are a fairly large amount.  Allan Wilson would agree with me on this, I think.  The great Masters who were having ‘a worm in their ear’, brought out some of their best musical works.  Those of us who are nowhere even remotely close to holding such batons, we too enjoy the final triumph of mastering a tune when we are having ‘a worm in our ear’! Through the ‘worm’, we almost perfect the notes.


As with the songs, I find the same with my poetry-writing, too; at many points of composing a verse, I am having ‘a worm in my ear’.  To me, as much as is any form of music – a poem is also a melody… melody of words!


Geeta Chhabra


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