Writing in 1668, Samuel Pepys describes what we all know too well: the tendency for music to “get stuck” in our minds: ‘I was unable to think of any thing, but remained all night transported, so as I could not believe that ever any musick hath that real command over the soul of a man as this did upon me.’ Such tunes, so-called earworms, go round and round in our heads, ‘burrowing’ deeper and deeper as if our minds were made of soil. Ohrwurm explores how tunes and dances wormed their way into many aspects of music-making in 17th and 18th century Europe – and, in traversing the centuries, contemporary compositions testify to the earworm’s secured place in modern life.


Ciaconna Medley: After various Italian composers including Antonio Bertali (1605-1669), Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665) and Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Pierre Sandrin (c1490-after 1561): Doulce Memoire - with diminutions by Diego Ortiz (c1510-1576)

Pierre-Francisque Carroubel (1556-1611/15): Spagnolette - from Terpsichore, Musarum Aoniarum (Michael Praetorius, 1612)

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618): Aria di Romanesca 

Francesco Rognoni Taeggio (around 1620): Vestiva I colli (Diminutions on a Madrigal by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656): La suave melodia

Gareth Moorcraft (b1990): Diaries of the Early Worm (2019, for Tabea Debus)

Anthony Holborne (1545-1602): Cradle Pavan, Galliard ’The Fairy Round’ and Almaine ’The Night Watch’

Division Flute (1706): Greensleeves

John Dowland (1563-1626): Fantasia in D major, The Earle of Essex Galiard, or Can she excuse my wrongs 

Giovanni Paolo Foscarini (1600-1649): ‘Chiaccona Mariona alla vera Spagnola’

Diego Ortiz (c1510-1576): Recercada Segunda sobre tenores Italianos – from Trattado de Glosas (1553)

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