This week’s New Yorker contains an article by Oliver Sacks about a condition called musicophilia, in which one feels sudden urges to listen to, or play, music follwing brain injury:
In 1994, when Tony Cicoria was forty-two, and a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon, he was struck by lightning. He had an out-of-body experience. “I saw my own body on the ground. I said to myself, ‘Oh shit, I’m dead.’ …Then–slam! I was back.” Soon after, he consulted a neurologist–he was feeling sluggish and having some difficulties with his memory. He had a thorough neurological exam, and nothing seemed amiss.
A couple of weeks later, Cicoria went back to work, and in another two weeks, his memory problems disappeared. Life had returned to normal, seemingly, when “suddenly over two or three days, there was this insatiable desire to listen to piano music.” This was completely out of keeping with anything in his past. He started to teach himself to play piano. And then, he started to hear music in his head. In the third month after being struck, Cicoria was inspired, even possessed, by music, and scarcely had time for anything else.
The New Yorker also has a podcast interview with Sacks, in which he discusses, among other things, musicophilia. The condition is the subject of his new book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, which is to be published in October