Some musical terms worth remembering:
- Earworm: A clip of a song running through your head on a seemingly endless loop.
- Mondegreen: Misheard lyrics. An example would be the line in “Purple Haze” where some people hear “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky” as “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”
- Bandomynology: An invention of The Ongoing History of New Music a number of years ago. It describes the study of the origin of band names. It’s not in the OED yet, but I remain ever hopeful.
Handy words, yes. But Raya sent me an email that begs some genuine and serious etymological research: “Is there a term to describe a song/sound when it sounds similar to another artist’s song?” Great question.
To be clear, we’re not talking about plagiarism or ripoffs. With only twelve notes in the Western scale and only so many ways to combine them in a fashion that are pleasing to the ear, it’s inevitable that people are going to independently and unintentionally discover the same melodies, chord progressions and arrangements over and over again. Here’s an example: Sum 41’s “Still Waiting” sounds almost identical to a track called “Al menos ahora” by an artist named Nek. (For more, go to SoundsJustLike.com)
I think what Raya wants to know is if there’s a word that describes the deja vu one feels when hearing a song that sounds like another. Is there such a word in the English language? How about any other language? (C’mon, Germany! You have words for everything!)
If there isn’t such a word, I invite etymology academicians and fans of word origins to invent one using the standard rules for such things.