There's a classic short story I remember where a scientist gets interested in the songs that get stuck in peoples heads, and decides to create the ultimate earworm song by having a computer analyse brain waves while generating music.

It ends with the music being discovered, but it's too perfect and puts people in to comas, except for one guy that's tone deaf.

It may also have been adapted for a radio drama.

  • 1
    One of these, presumably.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


The first answer to this question probably includes whatever story you're thinking of. I think most likely "The Ultimate Melody" by Arthur C Clarke:

Lister theorized that a great melody "made its impression on the mind because it fitted in with the fundamental electrical rhythms going on in the brain." Lister attempts to abstract from the hit tunes of the day to a melody that fits in so well with the electrical rhythms that it dominates them completely. He succeeds and is found in a catatonic state from which he never awakens.

  • Yep, that's the one!
    – AndyD273
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 20:35
  • His lab assistant survives as the man is stone deaf.
    – SQB
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 20:37
  • @SQB I remember it was some kind of deaf. I had though it was tone deaf, but it's been so long since I read it.
    – AndyD273
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 20:41

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