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September 2019

Musicogenic epilepsy

Author(s): Murray, T. J.

Journal/Book: Can Med Assoc J. 1984; 131: 1255-8.

Abstract: A case of musicogenic epilepsy is reported in which the seizures were precipitated by singing voices. It was found that some singers' voices were particularly epileptogenic and that some of their songs, but not others, would precipitate a seizure. A study of the "offending" songs and singers did not reveal a common key, chord, harmonic interval, pitch or rhythm, and the emotional feeling or intensity of the music did not seem to be relevant. However, the voices that caused the seizures had a throaty, "metallic" quality. Such a singing voice results from incorrect positioning of the larynx such that it is not allowed to descend fully during singing; consequently, the vowel sounds produced must be manipulated by the lips or jaw to be distinguished. This trait is most common in singers with a low voice range who sing softly and use a microphone. It is not seen in trained operatic or musical theatre singers. The results of repeated testing showed that the seizures in this patient were caused by listening to singers who positioned the larynx incorrectly.

Keyword(s): Music|. Seizures|ET


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