by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man wrote:
My 70ish mother has just started ‘hearing’ phantom singing. She is hearing hymns sung by angels and sometimes the beating of drums. She is a church-goer and as long as i can remember has been humming hymns at home.
A few months ago she became aware she was ‘hearing’ faint singing, but now it has gotten more serious. I say serious because she had no idea of what was going on. First she thought the house had an evil spirit, then she thought she was going to die because the hymns that she sings speak of going ‘home’ and those same hymns are being sung in her ear by phantom angels accompanied at times by phantom drums.
She is healthy and is not going to die. Although God’s will is His will, she will not die because of the words in the hymns.
What’s funny is she only ‘hears’ the music and singing when it’s quiet and the heater or fridge kicks in, or water is running. Somehow those noises translate into music, then singing. Otherwise if there’s noise throughout the house, or she’s busy or even gets out of the house, she doesn’t hear the phantom singing.
Your mom’s experience and her interpretation of what she is “hearing” is not all that uncommon. Depending on their religious backgrounds, people jump to various spiritual interpretations of the phantom sounds they hear. However, the truth is that these sounds all are coming from inside her brain. Her auditory circuits are receiving some information from her memory. Thus she is “hearing” these phantom sounds as though they were real sounds.
It is not uncommon for people to hear hymns if they have been church goers and like hymns. She already had these hymns firmly in her memory long before she began experiencing Musical Ear Syndrome.
Again, depending on their religious background, some people believe that they hear angels singing beautiful music in the days or hours before they are going to die. This may be true in some cases—but I believe that the vast majority of people that hear such sounds are really experiencing Musical Ear Syndrome. I guess the proof would be if the person died soon after hearing this “heavenly music”—but in my experience this has not happened. So, like you, I don’t believe your mom has to worry about dying at this point.
I’m finding that more and more people are sensitive to constant background sounds like the furnace or fridge or air conditioner cycling on and off. These “fan running” type of background sounds trigger are a result of her brain trying to make sense of these sounds by matching them to a pattern already in her auditory system. This pattern match may be “way out” and thus her brain forces the fan sounds into a musical mold. The result is that while the furnace/fan/etc. are running, she hears music. This is perfectly natural, and occurs in numbers of people. The fancy name for this condition is audio pareidolia. You can read more about this fascinating condition in my article on the subject at https://hearinglosshelp.com/blog/apophenia-audio-pareidolia-and-musical-ear-syndrome/ .
Since your mom only hears the phantom music and singing when the furnace cycles on or the fridge is running, this shows that it is a “physical” condition, not a spiritual one.
Fortunately, she only hears such sounds when the house is otherwise silent apart from the furnace or fridge running. When she is busy doing various activities, her brain is busy too. It has no time to produce the phantom sounds. However, when she is not busy doing something and the house is quiet apart from the fridge or furnace running, her brain again manufactures the phantom music.
One solution, once she understands what is happening, is for her to keep a radio or the TV on in the background to give her brain real sounds to listen to so it doesn’t feel the need to manufacture these phantom sounds.
In any case, once she understands what is happening, she is free to enjoy the phantom music if she so chooses—or to “drown it out” with real sounds if she doesn’t.
Some people love their phantom music; some just tolerate it; and others can’t stand it. If she’s in the first group, it makes life so much easier.
She can learn much more about the strange Musical Ear Syndrome sounds she hears and ways to bring them under control in my book, “Phantom Voices, Ethereal Music & Other Spooky Sounds“.