Researchers find high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic in Beethoven's hair

142 points by marban on 2024-05-14 | 101 comments

Automated Summary

Researchers have analyzed two locks of Ludwig van Beethoven's hair and discovered high levels of lead, arsenic, and mercury. The high lead content, which is an order of magnitude higher than normal, likely contributed to his gastrointestinal issues and deafness. Beethoven's exposure to lead may have come from his love of wine, lead-soldered kettles used in wine production, lead-based ointments, and medications, and his consumption of fish from the polluted Danube River. Although it is unclear whether the lead levels in hair accurately represent blood lead concentrations, higher hair lead concentrations have been shown to correlate with kidney and liver disease. This new finding provides a piece of the puzzle regarding Beethoven's health issues.

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amatecha on 2024-05-14

"It was so incredibly tragic that he couldn’t hear this majestic music that he created."

He couldn't physically hear the performance of it, but it's possible he could "hear" what it would sound like - and he very possibly heard it in his head before writing a single note down on paper (or however he recorded his music).

I'm not sure everyone has this ability, but whenever I've written/recorded music, I almost literally hear it before I even try to create it or play it. My memory of sound is REALLY strong. I've never had someone go "oh yeah, me too!" when I discuss this though, so I have no idea if it's a common thing or what. It's like borderline hallucination, the clarity with which I can recall music and sound. I would wager that a lot of composers over the years have had this ability, especially since you couldn't exaclty spin up an orchestra in your livingroom while composing an operatic piece in 1800 :)

gramie on 2024-05-14

My son is a composer, and he told me that he doesn't even need a keyboard any more, when he composes (he composes on paper, then transfers it to music notation software when it's ready to distribute).

He also, sometimes, has a photographic memory for music. In university he had a listening test on a piece of classical music. He was able to visualize the score that he had studied when in high school, and identify the types and numbers of instruments.

hilbert42 on 2024-05-15

There a story that when in Rome the young Mozart of 14 listened to Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere and afterwards wrote it down note for note from memory.

The important point about this story is that the Church so revered the wonderful Miserere that it kept its score secret so it could only be performed in Rome, so Mozart had no other choice but to memorize it.

Reputably, Mozart had perfect pitch and a phenomenal musical memory and he composed almost without corrections—a look at his handwritten scores and that's obvious, they're neat and near perfect.

Your son is clearly one of those lucky people so gifted.


FYI, if interested, here's a YouTube recording of what Mozart wrote down from memory (truly amazing if you ask me):

littlestymaar on 2024-05-15

> the young Mozart of 14 listened

You mean “Mozart in the middle of his career” at 14 ;) (he was already an international star for seven full years before he was 14)

hilbert42 on 2024-05-15

"You mean “Mozart in the middle of his career” at 14"

Sorry. Yeah you're right. I recall when I got to the age of 35 he died at I asked myself what the hell have I done in my 35 years.

The comparison was embarrassing (even now years later I still use that comparison).

Novosell on 2024-05-15

Seems like a potentially unhealthy comparison.

hilbert42 on 2024-05-15

I don't reckon so, we know a great deal about Mozart and that he was incredibly productive throughout his working career which spanned 30 of his 35 years.

Thanks to Köchel and others essentially Mozart's entire life's work is very well documented and that over those 30 years he produced about 626 musical works most of which are of the highest standard, and of those some rank as works of sheer genius, not only have they stood the test of time but they still remain popular and well loved by millions some 233 after his death.

Mozart's talent and his life's work can thus be held up as a standard—a level of excellence—to which many of us would like to aspire.

What makes Mozart special, perhaps more so than many other famous composers, is how much he achieved in such a short life. He's up at the pinnacle with others who have achieved great things. Even for those of us who are not composers Mozart's yardstick can remind us of our own often-limited talents and work and how we wished they were better or how we might go about improving them. At times I experience such notions when listening to his music.

tdfirth on 2024-05-15

This is a beautiful comment, and I couldn't agree more.

There is only one standard of accomplishment and it's set by people like Mozart.

Accepting that is humbling, but it's required to know yourself and grow. My contributions probably won't amount to much, but Mozart (et al) have shown us what good looks like and it's fun to strive.

hilbert42 on 2024-05-18

And thank you very much for your most welcome comment. It's nice to know one's posts are read but also that some appreciate them. :-)

StefanBatory on 2024-05-15

But a true one :/

littlestymaar on 2024-05-15

At least you're not dead yet, which makes you a much better organism than him by biological standards ;).

hilbert42 on 2024-05-15

"At least you're not dead yet,"

Right, not yet anyway. But one thing's pretty certain I won't be a household name 233 after I'm dead. ;-)

A great aspect about famous composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. is that they still remain household names several centuries after their deaths because their compositions bring immediate pleasure to us whenever we hear them.

Now, that's a lovely way to be remembered.

flappyeagle on 2024-05-15

You die twice as they say, once when you physically die and once when you are forgotten

Mozart is immortal in that sense

watwut on 2024-05-15

You lived like a normal person during that time. That should be actually ok.

hilbert42 on 2024-05-15

Right, one's just another paid-up member of the passing parade.

plussed_reader on 2024-05-15

Should-ing on others is very close to another, similar 4 letter invective.

tbossanova on 2024-05-15


amatecha on 2024-05-15

Nice, that's great! People who compose complex, lengthy pieces always impress me. It's such a cool skill, and there's something so transcendental about it, somehow.

grugagag on 2024-05-14

It’s probably like writing. Writing by hand to avoid distractions then import into editing software

solumunus on 2024-05-15

Well yes, but doing that with writing requires no special ability. If you can’t generate music accurately in your head then this simply wouldn’t be an option for you.

iancmceachern on 2024-05-15

He can hear music he makes up in his head the same way many of us "talk" to ourselves

cranberryturkey on 2024-05-15

its like how i know html.

alexjplant on 2024-05-15

> I'm not sure everyone has this ability, but whenever I've written/recorded music, I almost literally hear it before I even try to create it or play it.

I absolutely hear music in my head but my sense of harmony is underdeveloped compared to my ability to suss out melodies. A few years ago I had a dream that ended rather cinematically with a 1979-era jazz fusion song that sounded like Alan Holdsworth sitting in with Weather Report. I can work out the bassline and top voice of the keyboards but immediately struggled with everything in between when I went to transcribe it. I learned (and subsequently forgot half of) second species counterpoint in high school theory class but it doesn't seem to help when it comes to the outside voicings that this type of music requires. Rhythms have always been kinda rough for me as well given the amount of time I've spent experimentally dotting quarter notes in Guitar Pro. I am, however, easily able to learn more diatonic popular music like rock and pop punk without consulting transcriptions barring any super-wide intervallic leaps.

I'm a barely-competent "musician" (heavy air quotes) as it is so I'd have to imagine that most mid-level musicians have what you're talking about.

louthy on 2024-05-14

> I'm not sure everyone has this ability, but whenever I've written/recorded music, I almost literally hear it before I even try to create it or play it. My memory of sound is REALLY strong

I’m the same. Details in sound is the same as details in vision for me, I can remember the fine details of complete songs seemingly forever (yet my memory for everything else is terrible). And I have the same thing where I have the sound and musical progression of what I’m about to make in my head, ‘playing’, before I even start trying to make it happen on a synthesiser or on my modular system. And I don’t just mean known sounds like violin, piano, etc. I’m doing sound design as well as composition in my mind (I can hear it) before I start doing it for real.

I can easily believe that Beethoven was capable of “hallucinating” the music that he was composing in the same way.

Interestingly, I don’t really get this when reading sheet music, only when I’m creating or reflecting. Presumably, it’s a different pathway in the brain.

guyomes on 2024-05-14

> I can remember the fine details of complete songs seemingly forever

If you didn't buy the song, does it count as an illegal recording? /s

This was the main subject of a science fiction short story, unfortunately I cannot remember its title or author.

odyssey7 on 2024-05-14

A term for this is the mind’s ear. You hear the mind’s eye used more often.

You can generalize the construction to any sense you can imagine.

senkora on 2024-05-15

Thank you for putting the idea of the mind’s tongue into my nightmares.

odyssey7 on 2024-05-15

It could be an important faculty in some professions.

rjzzleep on 2024-05-15

There’s a French show called le prochain grand pâtissier.

In one season there a guy who dislikes sweets (or sugar I can’t remember) but said he could taste it by smelling. The chefs didn’t believe him, but I think they were proven wrong.

TylerE on 2024-05-15

That’s really surprising that chefs would think that - you’d think they of all people would know that smell is actually more of perceived taste than actual taste is.

t-3 on 2024-05-15

Not super surprising, sugar has a strong smell (and really disgusting too - try sticking your nose in the bag sometime). I can usually tell how sweet something is by smelling it.

lambdaba on 2024-05-14

I can't find a quote I remember reading, attributed to Beethoven, something along the lines of "if people could hear what I hear in my mind, they wouldn't care about my music". Does that ring a bell (!) with anybody? I could not get any language model to help.

aristus on 2024-05-14

Try "the music of the spheres".

fallingfrog on 2024-05-14

I’m a musician too, and: yep, same. Many of my best songs occurred to me at work, or doing something else, and I grab a napkin or piece of paper and write down the chords and a melody and a few notes so that I can recall the idea later. But I don’t need an instrument in my hands to do this.

patternMachine on 2024-05-14

I am not a composer but I do have a similar memory for sound. I can "listen" to music in my head very vividly. It can go on for quite awhile almost subconsciously and when it ends it often feels like someone else turned the music off, leading me wondering what happened.

telesilla on 2024-05-14

A trained or otherwise skilled composer can hear music in their mind by reading the score (and while he wrote it). For sure, Beethoven knew how powerful his music was. He also intimately knew theory and how music 'worked' and aside from inventing a great number of things in music, he applied theory expertly. Modern day composers in the conservatory track are expected to have the same set of skills. A trained conductor can do the same.

Stratoscope on 2024-05-14

Many years ago a friend was looking at a new recipe to cook, and she asked me, "Can you taste a recipe?"

My first thought was "Huh? What?" My second thought was "Yes, I can taste a recipe." So I read it, imagined cooking it, and tasted it in my mind.

It tasted good, and of course I had a couple of minor suggestions. Maybe one was more garlic, but I always want more garlic.

She agreed with my ideas and had a couple of improvements of her own. When she made the dish, it was very very good, and tasted even better in real life than the original recipe tasted in our minds.

smeej on 2024-05-15

I wonder if there's an equivalent for "aphantasia" for the other senses. If there is, I'm pretty sure I have it for taste.

I can imagine whole detailed worlds and hold them in my imagination, but nothing tastes like anything, and I definitely can't taste recipes.

To be fair, it's possible it's underdeveloped because I don't taste things terribly well in reality either, but now I'm wondering about how all the senses translate to imagination!

noisy_boy on 2024-05-15

If you incrementally cook it in your mind and "smell"/"taste" it at various stages, you should be able to do it in your mind. Right now, I can "taste" one of the dishes that was made every Saturday at our home when I was a child; I had it so many times, I don't actually need to eat it anymore.

solumunus on 2024-05-15

Hmm. I can easily play songs in my head and imagine new ones, yet I have absolutely no musical background. I’m now wishing I had more time available so I could mess around on fruity loops.

easyPZ on 2024-05-16

Me too!

What to play next occurs to me and my hands just do it.

Have not checked if this Ted talk[1] holds up but for me playing instruments is very unlike anything else. Woodworking and cooking, while I enjoy them, do not have the same holistic euphoria to them.


krisgenre on 2024-05-15

There is also this legendary composer from south India who has this exact ability -

IAmGraydon on 2024-05-15

Musician here, and it’s the same for me. Recalling music is so detailed and vivid that it’s almost like it’s playing in the room with me. I’m sure it has something to do with how rewarding our brains find music.

eleveriven on 2024-05-16

Beethoven's deafness may have influenced his compositions in unique ways, leading him to focus more on the emotional part of music..

deadbabe on 2024-05-14

Being able to simply hear the music in your head by reading or writing it sounds like the highest possible audio fidelity.

tetris11 on 2024-05-15

I have this when I've been awake too long and am very tired, or, when I've just woken up and my mind is still dreaming.

I can play entire songs in my head during those drowsy moments, but once fully awake/alert, I lose the ability.

kiba on 2024-05-14

I got earworms but nothing super vivid.

jorgesborges on 2024-05-14

Beethoven wrote a letter to his brothers that he never sent but it’s often referred to as a suicide note. It’s interesting — apparently he hid his bad hearing for a long time and considered it a humiliation. From the letter it also sounds like he was a real dick to people around him as a result, but they weren’t aware. So it serves as a sort of confession, apology and goodbye.

You can read it here it’s pretty short.

ohthehugemanate on 2024-05-15

Better than just reading the letter is to listen to the musical change in Beethoven's works.

Beethoven's music is usually divided into 3 periods. The first is really classical sounding, like late Mozart. In fact, Beethoven was a fan of Mozart and some sources say that Mozart appreciated Beethoven's compositions too. Go listen to string quartet no. 1, or symphony no. 1 for a bit. StructureStructured, restrained, even elegant. There's definitely emotionality in there especially compared to peak Classical era like Haydn. Those guys may as well have shit marble, as Mozart put it. Check out the pathetique sonata for something about as emotive as Beethoven got at the time.

Then came the diagnosis of progressive deafness. This letter is the best insight into Beethoven's mind at the time, and "existential depression with suicidal ideation" seems like the right description to me. He stopped composing for several months.

When he returned to composing in 1803, it's a totally different sound. This is the wild, emotional Beethoven we generally think of. Waldstein sonata, symphony 5, string quartet no. 9 are good examples here. It's Rage Against The Machine before electric instruments were invented.

If you're interested in the third period, read on.

The transition to third period is more gradual, around 1815. There isn't a hard biographical line in the sand like the Heiligenstadt testament, but his relationship with his nephew/ward Karl got awful, his love life fell apart, and his deafness took a sharp turn for the worse, all around the same time. His old tricks to keep composing, like sawing off the legs of his piano so he could feel it in the floor (poor downstairs neighbors!) were not effective anymore, and he was reduced to mostly communicating on a chalk tablet.

His music turned inwards, became more introspective. Themes like life and death and afterlife, godliness and debasement, retribution and redemption flood the work. It also gets much more complicated harmonically. He does a lot of contrasts, between the grandiose and the intimate, for example. Symphony 9, particularly the Ode To Joy, is quintessential. Also check out string quartet op.131, the Hammerklavier piano sonata, and the missa solemnis in D.

Now go out and impress your friends at dinner parties with your deep knowledge of Beethoven! Tune in next time for Bach: the original "ba-rock" star.

khazhoux on 2024-05-15

> Now go out and impress your friends at dinner parties with your deep knowledge of Beethoven! Tune in next time for Bach: the original "ba-rock" star.

That is Bach, and it rocks. It's a rock block of Bach, that he learned in a school called the School of Hard Knocks.

lqet on 2024-05-15

Beethoven surely was an interesting character. He often had trouble finding apartments because he was such a difficult neighbor (and it didn't help that he played his piano as loud as possible, so that he could hear it). One time, he was arrested because he was creeping around Wiener Neustadt at night, dressed like a beggar, and peeping into living rooms. Nobody believed he was the famous composer, and a local organist had to be brought in to identify Beethoven. He also fought a long violent legal battle for custody of his nephew Karl after the death of his brother (Beethoven hated his sister-in-law) which lead to a suicide attempt of Karl, and the break-off of all contact. His sister-in-law in turn told the authorities that the "van" in Beethovens surname had nothing to do with nobility (as he seemingly had claimed), but was just a normal surname in in the Flemish region of his ancestors.

What I also find highly fascinating are the entries in his conversation books which document how relatives tried to teach him basic math. It's strange to see that one of greatest composers in human history was unable to grasp multiplication or division.

cdelsolar on 2024-05-15

I would have thought you needed a decent grasp of math to compose. Don’t you have to count - ie all your measures must have equal sums of note durations (if you are using 32nds, all your notes - halves, quarters, 32nds, rests, and so on, must add up to 32 32nds).

lioeters on 2024-05-15

That is heart-breaking, and will probably make me cry the next time I listen to his music.

busymom0 on 2024-05-15

Any reason why there's no periods in it?

w-m on 2024-05-14

I'm quite confused. I learned 20+ years ago that lead poisining from the wine was the cause, or at least the suspected cause of Beethovens deafness. It's great that they found lead in his hair (again?), but thoroughly weird that they don't mention that it was the go-to theory already.

On a large tangent, I tried asking GPT-4o to check the article whether it mentions that previously that theory already existed (could have overlooked it). GPT-4o confidently made up a complete quote from the article, then doubled down after I said I couldn't find the quote, and finally reversed its opinion 180 degrees. It's of course much too early to tell, but my feeling from a handful queries has been that GPT-4o hallucinates quite a bit more than GPT-4.

deepakg on 2024-05-14

Indeed! There was even a book on the topic I read years ago. Lead poisoning seemed quite conclusive even back then.

prvc on 2024-05-14

That particular sample was shown to have been a fake last year when multiple purported hair samples were compared.

itslennysfault on 2024-05-15

I asked it yesterday if there were any baseball games in town this weekend. It hallucinated a false schedule against the wrong team complete with times, and even linked to the (correct) schedule. I told it I googled it and they're playing a different team this weekend and it then (without searching the web again) apologized and shared the correct schedule.

It seemed like such a simple question, but it just made up a very plausible, but entirely incorrect answer. I asked it several times in different ways why and how I could tell if it is correct and all it could tell me was to look it up myself and cross-reference which enitrely defeats the purpose of using it.

ohthehugemanate on 2024-05-15

Schumann believed it was a form of syphilis which causes progressive deafness, then a period before death of wonderful clarity, like the whole world is verging on a great revelation of unity and you are the carrier.

This is a real form of syphilis, but AFAIK there's no evidence other than the ode to joy.

cranberryturkey on 2024-05-15

I spent the last 20 hours using 4o writing a tauri/rust desktop app. I don't know rust, so it was a LOT of pasting errors back in copying back to my code. But I'd say after about 14 hours it got very lazy. Does AI get tired like humans?

sumtechguy on 2024-05-15

AI can get 'stuck' in local optima. At which point it will hallucinate or repeat itself over and over or both. Easy way is to start over or you have to really feed a bunch of stuff to it to get it to move.

A good way to think of AI is like a cubic spline. The formula that pops out of all of the nodes strung together make a thing that resembles a cubic spline. Everything is valid along that formula but only at the nodes where it crosses the real spline. Everything else might be close +/- some error rate. But it can also create hills and valleys that you should not reach. But are perfectly valid for the spline. The more noes you add the higher the calculation is. But the more accurate it is. But that can also create wildly weird things between the valid points.

itslennysfault on 2024-05-15

I've noticed that errors seem to increase the longer the chat goes. I think having too much previous context confuses it. I seem to have much better luck if I occasionally start a new chat.

efields on 2024-05-15

Sounds productive. Don't forget to take breaks, drink water, and sleep.

mensetmanusman on 2024-05-15

Tell it you will give it tips for kWhrs.

gymbeaux on 2024-05-15

So why is his music considered “classical” and not “heavy metal”?

eviks on 2024-05-15

It's too old, so all the metal has been eaten by rust

rossant on 2024-05-15

That's a good one.

jtc331 on 2024-05-15

How does one conclude from genetics that he had hepatitis B? Similarly how can you rule out IBS from his DNA when it can be caused by e.g. specific bacteria in the gut?

throwup238 on 2024-05-15

> How does one conclude from genetics that he had hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B uses reverse transcription as a part of its lifecycle like a retrovirus, leaving some genetic markers in the host.

dukeofdoom on 2024-05-14

Just curious how do modern humans compare. I think most people have this notion that sewage treatment removes everything.

I know the local creek that the local water treatment plant empties out into, and the creek smells like sewage. The water intake is maybe km away down river. Aside from obvious chemicals like paint that people might flush. All kinds of medical/drug chemicals they're on are also peed out as well. And those can be active in tiny amounts.

elevaet on 2024-05-14

I think we tend to have a lot less heavy metal poisoning in general than we did at different times in the past.

It's only fairly recently that we realized how dangerous these metals are and started removing them from things like plumbing (that word comes from french/latin for lead), fuels, paints, even eating-wares.

I think north america was using leaded gasoline up until the end of the 70s or so.

windowsrookie on 2024-05-14

And small engined airplanes still use leaded fuel.

HeyLaughingBoy on 2024-05-14

At least until the mid-late 80's. My roommate had a 71 Dodge Challenger and it was only around '89 or so that it became harder for him to find the leaded gas it needed in the NYC area.

rovr138 on 2024-05-14

> Researchers tested two authenticated locks of Beethoven’s hair. One had 380 micrograms of lead per gram of hair, while the other had 258 micrograms. For reference, a normal level of lead in a gram of hair is around 4 micrograms or less. His hair also had 13 times the normal level of arsenic, and four times the normal level of mercury.

bananenpubs on 2024-05-14


throwup238 on 2024-05-14

All great artists are a little bit crazy. Heavy metal poisoning is a clever shortcut.

rompic on 2024-05-15

There's a very interesting German (Austrian) podcast episode about this here:

leobg on 2024-05-15

That was great.

No chronic lead poisoning after all. Lead poisoning started only within ~100 days before his death, mostly caused by medical interventions (lead based antiseptic, lead based medicine) when he was treated for symptoms of an undiagnosed hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

lostemptations5 on 2024-05-15

There are a number of people commenting about how Beethoven could hear music in his head, being deaf, and thus compose entire symphonies.

But at that time the musical instruments of the day were incredibly "standardized".

Basically it was all orchestral instruments such as violins, percuasion, and all the usual fair -- and by the time Beethoven went deaf he was intimately familiar with these such that he could IMAGINE it all in his head.

Even if you went deaf tomorrow, in 20 years time you would still be able to imagine a violin -- it is a very distinctive instrument.

So I think this feat -- while wonderful-- is pretty explainable.

flappyeagle on 2024-05-15

I don’t think they’re astonished by his ability to imagine instruments. They are more remarking that he is considered the gold standard of music composition and he couldn’t hear what he was writing.

Most artists still need the feedback loop of do something, evaluate it, iterate.

lostemptations5 on 2024-05-15

Ok fair enough. Put that way it makes sense.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-14

>> One had 380 micrograms of lead per gram of hair, while the other had 258 micrograms. For reference, a normal level of lead in a gram of hair is around 4 micrograms or less. His hair also had 13 times the normal level of arsenic, and four times the normal level of mercury.

What is "normal"? Normal for now, or normal for the 17th century? Looking at the hair and makeup regimes of the wealthy, they were all probably soaked in poisons. Arsenic seems more common than garlic, lead used more liberally than salt. If we apply modern standards for poisons, nobody should have survived those times.

rovr138 on 2024-05-14

I mean, did anyone survive those times?

rqtwteye on 2024-05-14

Most people certainly didn't live as long. I can also imagine that a lot of people had lower IQ due to lead exposure.

loloquwowndueo on 2024-05-14

“ the slew of other health problems he suffered, including diarrhea and abdominal cramps.”

So no different than the average consumer-society sedentary person. Just let poor old Beethoven rest in peace.

brailsafe on 2024-05-14

People have a way of forgetting that everybody poops. Famous people have the same human deficiencies as any other, but if anything talent probably intensifies those issues through relentless focus on greatness or money to the point of complete neglect of yourself.

Bill Gates is super sus, rich, and powerful, but he must feel like hell every time he wakes up or bends down.

fuzzfactor on 2024-05-15

Chuck Berry sez, "Roll Over Beethoven" !

AlbertCory on 2024-05-15

I think this was in Immortal Beloved (do I have the details right?). So touching.

At the premier of his 9th Symphony, he was off to the side of the "real" conductor, waving his baton while the orchestra ignored him. When it stopped, the audience went wild. The contralto gently turned him around so he could SEE the ovation, being unable to hear it.

jmclnx on 2024-05-14

>“This man created some of the most beautiful music humanity was able to produce,” Rifai adds. “It was so incredibly tragic that he couldn’t hear this majestic music that he created.”

I wonder if his deafness helped him create that music.

lukan on 2024-05-14

"I wonder if his deafness helped him create that music. "

Since he already composed great music before he became deaf, I think no.

Waterluvian on 2024-05-14

Possibly. You can often tell when a piece was composed based on how much he uses the low octaves. Some of his lower pitched works are because he could still hear those notes well.

You can notice this in his 7th symphony for example.

This movement is incredible because it’s so simple. It’s basically beginner piano. And yet it’s overflowing with emotion.

lioeters on 2024-05-14

I'm sure that he heard his majestic music in his head as he was composing it.

chasd00 on 2024-05-14

there are people without an inner monologue, that little voice inside your head. If you don't have that voice then i wonder if you can imagine or hear music inside your head like you would "that little voice".

edit: here's a old article about people who lack an inner monologue

darby_eight on 2024-05-14

TBH I never thought to even call the speech processing in my a head a "little voice" until someone accused me of not having an inner monologue. I don't perceive it as audio at all unless I put effort into it.

Meanwhile music plays in my head constantly, so I don't think they're related.

suslik on 2024-05-15

I'm exactly the same; I also don't have anything 'visual' in my head at all - no images, shapes, or similar - only words, or music.

genman on 2024-05-14

Yes, there are people who can hear music in their head but it is necessary not related to having the inner monologue.

recursive on 2024-05-14

Me too, but that's a fundamentally different experience. I think the question stands, and I'm interested in the answer.

HEmanZ on 2024-05-14

People debate endlessly about what effect it had on his music, and we’ll never know the counter factual. A few things about this that the majority of people don’t know tho:

1. He was wildly successful before he started going deaf. Like performing for and requested by the kings and emperors all around Europe successful. Like graduating from being apprenticed by Hayden successful.

2. He had played and composed a truly insane amount before losing his hearing. As a modern analogy, his father “Tiger Woods”ed him. He had all-day and all-night kind of regime from the time he 4 years old. He had famous teachers and was forced to perform in front of the nobility starting at the age of 6. He was pulled out of school as soon as possible to spend all of his time playing. His life was music, in a way very few humans ever experience anything.

3. Classical music is structured in a way that, it is not uncommon for composers to put the whole piece together on paper before hearing it. In composition exercises, pieces are critiqued without them being played. Exercises even at the highest level don’t need to be played to be judged. Pieces are often submitted and judged without anyone hearing them. It can be hard for someone not used to classical music to understand this.

Iulioh on 2024-05-14

He still felt it

jgalt212 on 2024-05-15

> Researchers tested two authenticated locks of Beethoven’s hair.

How many authenticated locks are known to exist?

Log_out_ on 2024-05-15

Freude schöner götterfunken .. The berstein berlin concerts

rob74 on 2024-05-15

> We have analyzed the hair of lead smelter workers and found there is too much contamination, unable to be removed from washing, to be able to infer blood lead concentrations

Well yeah, lead smelters probably have a higher lead concentration in their hair than in their blood. However, if you ingest the lead and it shows up in your hair, it's probably safe to say that the blood concentration must have been pretty high (although it's not possible to infer the exact number of course).