Mind jukebox

A self-discovery guide

by Andycyca

0. Abstract

  1. Insert coins
  2. Album number: 42 (Ah Via Musicom by Eric Johnson)
  3. Song number: 2 (Cliffs of Dover)
  4. Step back. Hear the machine whirring.
  5. Wait. The machine stops whirring. Hope that you entered the correct numbers and the machine isn't malfunctioning
  6. Listen. The glorious guitar intro starts rolling.
  7. Air guitar like nobody's watching.
  8. Have the time of your life (for the next 4 minutes and 10 seconds, at least)
  9. Return to Midgard.

After a while, this process can omit completely the steps 1, 4 and 5 (and, depending on other factors, step 9). Enter the Mind Jukebox. The author presents here a way of self-discovery of the mechanism behind the Mind Jukebox in every individual.

1. Introduction

For some reason, humans have the strange ability to recall music very precisely in response to a number of stimulus and sometimes just for the pleasure of "listening" inside one's head. 

This process of recalling music, however, is more than just an example of how memory works in humans. Music is a complex and very distinct combination of parts: sounds and their combinations; words, their meaning, context and interpretation; memories associated with the particular piece of music; the composer and his historical and artistical background... The list could go on for a while depending on the listener/remember-er and his/her particular conditions.

For example, an aspiring conductor, a concertgoer and a singer will most probably never hear Verdi's Requiem in the same way. Sure enough, they can listen to the exact same notes if they are in the same room at the same time, but their brains/minds will not process the same thing and will not have the same thoughts.

The actual brain/conscience processing of a particular piece of music is more akin to the concept of a Jukebox, which is mapping machine of sorts where one input (the disc/song code) yields a predictable and unique outcome. The mind's workings, however, are a lot more mysterious than those old machines that used to select a vinyl album and place it under the needle. A normal jukebox can be understood in mechanical terms, a Mind Jukebox can't.

But this doesn't mean these workings can't be known; they just need a different approach. Here, I present a way to explore the workings of your own Mind Jukebox that may enable you not only to explore your own consciousness, but also expand your musical interests.

PLEASE NOTE This guide is not and probably will never be comprehensive. The actual methods of exploring one's thought processes and conciousness in any field have been the subject of men and women of all kinds around the world throughout history via science, art, religion, philosophy and many combinations of those. There is no right or wrong way of exploring just as there is no right or wrong way to walk

2. Background questions


  • Answer any and all questions that interest you. Discard the rest and discard those that don't apply.
  • Answer whenever you want. Either when you're listening to the song via external stimulus (playing through headphones/speakers) or when "imagining" the music.
  • Not knowing is fine. Not wanting to know is not.
  • If the question is ambiguous, define it as you want.
  • Some of this questions were made with older ("classical") non-popular music in mind because I'm listening to Arvo Pärt right now. Feel free to discard those as well if it pleases you.

2.1. Sounds

  1. What instruments is this piece using?
  2. What kind of sounds am I hearing? Are they all playing at the same time? In succesion?
  3. What is the mood of these sounds? Are they more sad or happy? What's the best word that could describe it?
  4. Are these sounds actually of my liking? If not, why am I still listening to them?

2.2. Words

  1. Does this piece have any words? What do they say?
  2. What do they mean?
  3. Is there a subtext, a hidden message beyond mere words (like sarcasm, double-talk, irony, etc.)?
  4. What is the context of these words (setting, place, intended audience, desired effect)?
  5. How is it written? Does it follow any convention on rhyming and structure? Why?

2.3. History

  1. Do you know who composed this piece? Do you know when or where?
  2. Do you know who influenced the composer? Who was his/her teacher? Who did he/she influence?
  3. Do you know whether the piece had any purpose? Was it comissioned for something?

2.4. Opinions

  1. Did someone recommend this piece to you?
  2. Does anyone of your friends, family or acquaintances know this piece? What do they think of it?

3. Discovery questions

The "rules" for section 2 apply here as well. Define your own answers. Give meaning to your thoughts. There is no right or wrong discovery. Learn from others' paths but follow your own.

3.1. Memory

  1. Have you heard this piece before? When and where? Who was with you?
  2. If this piece isn't new to you, how did you discover it? Recommendation? Luck?
  3. Do you or did you learn any part of this piece? Which instrument? (hint: the human voice is an instrument, the oldest one)
  4. Have you dedicated this song to someone else? Has it been dedicated to you?
  5. If the piece isn't playing right now, what made you remember it?

3.2. Feelings

  1. How do you feel when this song plays? Is it consistent with the piece's mood?
  2. If the piece doesn't have lyrics (or if it's in a language you don't understand), what do you think it talks about?
  3. Does this piece evoke a reaction on you (whether physical, phichological or any other)?

3.3. Imagination

  1. Can you picture an image or scene with this piece? Is it something concrete, abstract or somewhere in the middle of those?
  2. Have you dreamt with this piece? What did you dream? Was it a good dream?

4. Getting it all together

Hopefully, by this point you'll have an interesting collection of answers (or even better, a fresh collection of questions). These should allow you to better understand your relationship with music and how your brain/conscious/subconscious/soul acts and reacts with music. These are some of the patterns that I try to identify:

  1. How my mood was affected by the music and/or vice versa
  2. How many pieces of music make me remember a specific person or situation and/or vice versa
  3. How the music influences my writing and/or vice versa
  4. How the music influences my focus
  5. Whether this song is or would be useful in a particular scene, situation or setting (at a wedding? Funeral?...)

5. Conclusion

Just go and be aware of music around you. It's a whole world that merits exploring. Seriously, just go. If you're here because you wanted a definitive verdict on whether this works or not, you've missed the whole point.

Just go. Enjoy life.

Corrections and addenda are welcome