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Thread: Blinded By The Lyric? Study Reveals Why We Get The Words Wrong

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Blinded By The Lyric? Study Reveals Why We Get The Words Wrong

    A new study by Dr. Wei Ji Ma may finally reveal why so many of us think Freddie Mercury is singing "Beelzebub has a devil for a son named Steve" in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    Turns out, unless you're looking at a person's face, it's much harder to understand what he or she is saying (or singing), according to Ma, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who recently authored a study on lip-reading.

    "What seems to be happening with misunderstood song lyrics is that what you hear is not always reliable," says Ma. "It's noisy, the singer is singing fast, he's not articulating well or maybe he has an accent. The sound information is uncertain, that's step one."

    Step two is when the brain combines the sound information with whatever other information it has at its disposal, including prior beliefs or expectations.

    "We hear some (expressions) more often than others," says Ma. "And we often hear about bathrooms, or we'll ask about a bathroom at a restaurant and be told that it's on the right. That's something we've heard many times. It's much less common to hear a sentence like 'There's a bad moon on the rise.'

    "The brain will combine what it hears the sounds with those prior beliefs, those expectations. If the sound is not very reliable, than the prior beliefs will have more effect."

    Is there any possible way to avoid mishearing song lyrics?

    "If you're watching (the video) while listening to the song, you're going to do much better at understanding the lyrics correctly than if you're listening to the music on your MP3," says Ma.

    Beyond understanding why we get the songs wrong, Ma's research could help clear up other verbal miscommunication problems. If you want to make sure someone understands exactly what you're saying, face the person when speaking and don't cover your mouth with your fingers.


    BONUS VIDS! --

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016

    Thumbs up These two Rock 'N Roll songs were not in any tops listing. The two most connected in the history of music!

    Hello Dr. Powerfun!

    Missing this one to date I have no excuses to offer. I just missed it! Lots of times I arrive here and getting into threads is rejected. I really enjoyed your Blinded By The Lyric? entry It happens and lots of folks just tune into the instrumental aspects and "the beat" and seldom pay attention to the words sung. A former music teacher turned truck driver told me that and I was surprised a bit.

    The two most connected songs in music history sadly had the UK and US listeners blinded by the lyrics too!

    Here they are with the older song from 1986 before the newer one in 1996.!

    Now I'm headed to read the interesting Missing Persons topic where you posted 23 hours ago.

    MK II
    "So if you're tired of the same old story! Oh, turn some pages!" sung by Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon of Champaign - Urbana, Illinois

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