Pet Sounds: Lian-Hee Wee

Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]


I know there is Impressionist music like Debussy etc which I enjoy, but there’s something else too, more like an impressionistic ear worm (Ohrwurm).

Non-specific, non-descript tunes I think I hear in my head, spiriting me straight into the lazy afternoons of the 1980s where I might be waiting my turn in a barber shop that smells of stale talc with cigarettes, skirting past an old provision store fragrant with aged wooden shelves, grains and sauces, or nodding along a bumpy bus-ride. Above the trees, there’d be huge white clouds cut through by rays of sunshine that reach the cool grass beneath my feet thinly protected by cheap slippers. The musical sounds of my carefree-est years with my favourite-est people indulging in meaningless existence. I seek often to capture these tunes that surface in my mindlessness, and they could have been any of the many songs on radio or TV.

Whichever song/tune I replay in my head, a brain neuron probably lights up and electricity races through at the synapses. But at the same time, each song seems only to capture a bit of that impressionist ohrwurm. Frustrated, I let the Amygdala go straight to the vocal folds and commanded the prefrontal cortex to a secondary, assistant role as notetaker.

The results? I won’t perform them for you, but here are two sheets of music. The handwritten one is for the Ukulele and the other one is really just a skeletal tune that awaits instrumentation and lyric. I doubt anyone would ‘steal’ my creative work, but if they bring you entertainment, I state hereby formally: As the creator of the two works, I give license to anyone who wishes to use them under the terms of “Creative Common, -BY, NC”.


Lian-HeeLian-Hee Wee is Associate Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature. [Click here to read all entries by or about Lian-Hee.]

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