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Migraine and Music Migraine and Music
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Author: Klaus Podoll 08. August 2004
Edited by: Klaus Podoll

Migraine and Music

Artificial Migraine Poster. © 2004 Dennis (see here)

Artificial Migraine

"Here is... thee one, thee only Artifical Migraine." (Tracie Stanton, Zigkiss) [more]

Martyn Bates, CD album "Migraine Inducers/Antagonistic Music", 2007

Martyn Bates

CD album "Migraine Inducers/Antagonistic Music" (2007)

Big Daddy Kane

Song "Come on down" from album "Prince of Darkness" (1991) - "As you feel the pain, bass kick impacts to the / brain gotta make a mega migraine"

Brainchoke, CD album "Migraine music", 2000


"Brainchoke was formed in January 2000. Former members of Suffering and Inimenter joined forces with other musicians with an equally extreme taste in music to form what was described as 'England's new force in cool grind/death metal'. The line up of Simon (drums), Mark (vocals), Kieran, Paul (guitars), and Dave (bass) spent the first eight months of the bands existence writing material which evolved into the debut album, 'Migraine Music'" (November 2000) [more]

Pete Capozzoli

"I enjoyed your website. I have had aura symtoms for a long time. The earliest scintillating scotoma was in 79. I never knew other symptoms were related. I used to get snow and bad headaches in High School 1962-66. Anyway, in the 80s I wrote a bunch of songs. One of them was inspired by strange aura symptoms. It is called 'Wake Up In A Dream'. The auras are very personal and hard to explain, especially the ones that surface long forgotten memories. I am still learning to observe everything that happens. I attached the song. Thanks."

(Pete Capozzoli, Email to Klaus Podoll, February 9, 2009) [more]

Alice Cooper

Song "Aspirin Damage" from LP album "Flush the Fashion" (1980) - "I get these killer headaches / I get one everyday / I wake up with a migraine / Since you ran away..."

The Coral

Song "Migraine" from CD "Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker" (2004) [more]

Cougnut and Master P

Song "Tell Me Something Good" - "Wake up and I'm sweatin' from my head to my toes / Migraine headache, body shakin' with a bloody nose / Rush to the bathroom, grabbed some water take a taste / Look into the mirror see Johnny Hody's face"

Claude Debussy

When he was writting Pelléas e Melisande, Debussy made strange musical dreams, he was then suffering from migraine headaches: "pendant cette dernière crise [qui a duré 8 jours], j'ai eu les cauchemars les plus remarquables: j’ai assisté à une répétition de Pelléas où tout à coup Golaud se transformait en huissier et adaptait les termes de son assignation aux formules musicales qui caractérisent ce personnage" (Claude Debussy, July 23, 1898).

(Esther Lardreau, Email to Klaus Podoll, August 14, 2005)

DJ Signify

Instrumental piece "Migraine" from CD "Sleep No More" (2004) - "An excellent example of where the music says as much as any person could, appears in the form of 'Migraine'. Now, a migraine's not a migraine. Meaning, the majority of people that claim to have a migraine, basically have a headache. A migraine is a 'wanna throw up' and 'an aspirin won't do the job' pain. Your head hurts? Well, you have a headache. Migraine is how you feel like 'Migraine' sounds like. Therefore, and maybe unexpectedly, the instrumental songs are often even more interesting than the spoken ones." (tadah, review at urban smarts, February 25, 2004) [more]

Franz Doelle

Song "Arme Alkmene, sie hat Migräne" from Ufa film "Amphitryon - Aus den Wolken kommt das Glück" (Amphitryon - Happiness from the Clouds), Germany 1934/1935 [more]

Dreamsploitation, Migraine, 2009 (larger image see here)


Single CD "Migraine" (2009) [more]

Elena Firsova

Opus 76: "No It Is Not A Migraine" for baritone and piano after Mandelstam (1995) "Actually my composition has not any connections with a migraine. This is a song on the poem of Osip Mandelstam which begins with the words: 'No, it is not a migraine', but all poem is about the life of the poet or any creative artist in Russia after revolution in Stalin's regime which causes sometimes kind of headache and strange condition of mood (in poetical sence) but not really a migraine." (Elena Firsova, Email to Klaus Podoll, June 16, 2008) [more]

Edith Frost, This is me, Marker drawing, circa 1991. © 1991 Edith Frost (see here)

Edith Frost

"I'm a singer-songwriter -- never had the occasion to mention SS [Scintillating Scotoma] in a song as far as I can remember. But then a lot of the songs are a bit disjointed and surreal, and I guess I do tend to mention lights and stars and things a lot, for no particular reason. Hmmm..."

(Artist's website, July 17, 2003)

Alwa Glebe/Lennart Lessmann, still from music video Ende, 2006 [more]

Alwa Glebe

Alwa Glebe (see her MySpace website) is a multimedia artist who uses a wide range of media to communicate her art. Having started with creative writing and poetry, she became a painter, song text writer, composer and singer with "the voice of an angel, a dark angel" (according to James "Jim" Kerr from Simple Minds). [more]

Annie Gosfield

Annie Gosfield (b. 1960) is a New York composer who specializes in using detuned or out of tune samples and industrial noises. In a post to a blog essay by Oliver Sacks, she wrote: "Composing can sometimes lull me out of a migraine: working alone in a controlled environment can at least distract me from the ice pick in my head. I have found that the concentration required to work during those high-pain periods can bring a different approach to my work." (Annie Gosfield, Submit questions for Oliver Sacks, February 23, 2008)

Charles Gounod (1818-1893)

In a letter to a friend dated 1882, the French composer wrote: "I have a terrible migraine... I cannot see you any longer - impossible to go to your house... a thousand regrets to you". [more]

The Hatepinks, music video "Girl Migraine", 2007

The Hatepinks

Song "Girl Migraine" from CD album "Kissing cops with my Ass" (2007)

Karnis, Migraine Soup, 2005


CD album "Migraine Soup" (2005) [more]

Mike Lane

"I am just finishing my new CD, to be called 'Five Acts to Follow'. It is a kind of 'concept album', in that it features five different bands - all of which are really just me! One of these 'bands' is called Migraine Tambien. I picked the name because it sounds like 'My Green Tambourine', which was the name of a hit song back in 1968. (I know this is all very strange!)"

(Mike Lane, Email to Klaus Podoll, November 19, 2004)

Lull in Conversation, music video "Migraine", 2008

Lull in Conversation

Music video "Migraine" (2008)

Aksak Maboul, LP (top) and CD covers (bottom) from "Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine", 1977/2004. © 1977/2004 Cra/Cram (ZYX) (see here and here)

Aksak Maboul

LP "Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine" (1977)/CD (2004) [more]

Gustav Mahler (see here)

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

"Mahler's migraine surely did not influence history. There is also no proof that it influenced his compositions." (Haan and Ferrari, 2000)

Marilyn Manson, Head hurts, 2002. © 2002 Marilyn Manson (see here)

Marilyn Manson

"A postcard from the migraine fields
So we will now return our efforts to the melolagnia at hand. DRUMS!!!
(Doctor's orders.)
From the migraine fields,

(Marilyn Manson, Journal, May 25, 2002)

Memoirs of a Fallen Bomb, CD album "Symphony for a Migraine", 2007 (larger image see here)

Memoirs of a Fallen Bomb

CD album "Symphony for a Migraine" (2007) [more]

Mental Anguish

"My Q-Cut Mix.. A bit of trip hop.. Uses Q-Cut Loops & Mental Anguish loops & a few from Electroearwigs December 04 uploads to the loop artists private ftp.. Some of the Mental Anguish loops are from the upcoming TG Loop Subscription Service we are working on... Track is titled 'Migraine' as my good friend Q-Cut suffers at times from some severe migraines..This track is for the Q-CUT...."

(Mental Anguish, The Tapegerm Collective, January 15, 2005)

Migraine, Little Luxury, 1994 (see here)

Migraine, Hallucination Superstar, 2007 (see here)

Migraine (see here)

Migraine (see here)

The Migraines

"'Amazingly, the name [The Migraines] ties into spirituality,' Shawn said. 'That definitely was part of a God's plan.'" (John DeGroff, The Migraines) [more]

Migraine Eyes

Migraine Eyes is band from Finland that plays energetic and melodic alternative rock/metal. [more]

Migraine Man

Moonstar88, Music video "Migraine", 2007. © 2007 Sony BMG


Song "Migraine" from the CD album "Todo Combo" (2007)

Nicky Nicolai

Song "Cornetto Ed Un Cachet" from CD "CHE MISTERO E' L'AMORE" (2005) - "Che emicrania, che emicrania che ho..." [more]

Nurse With Wound, Chance Meeting of a Defective Tape Machine and Migraine, United Durtro/Anomalous Records, 2003. © 2003 United Durtro/Anomalous Records (see here)

Nurse With Wound

CD "Chance Meeting of a Defective Tape Machine and Migraine" (2003) [more]

Patron Saints, Primitive Grinderoso for Your Migraine, 1995 (see here)

Patron Saints

CD "Primitive Grinderoso for Your Migraine" (1995) [more]

Hendrik Elings, Elvis, oil on canvas (70 cm x 70 cm), undated. © 2005 Hendrik Elings - To see more paintings from Hendrik Elings's series of portraits of famous migraine sufferers, on show at the Bonifatius Headache Clinic in Dokkum (The Netherlands), click here.

Elvis Presley

"Elvis Presley's private struggle with intractable migraines revealed"

(Terri Miller Burchfield, April 19, 1999) [more]

Brad Preston

"Migraine-induced Madness" (2004) - "Composition and keyboards by ... Brad Preston (who wrote this while suffering from a severe headache)."

(Norman Feaster, Whole Note(TM) - The OnLine Guitar Community, September 8, 2004) [more]

Puddle of Mudd

Song "Migraine" from CD "Abrasive" (2001) - "No pain no gain migraine..." [more]

Sacrifice Isaac, Migraine, 1998. © 1998 Slipdisc Records (see here)

Sacrifice Isaac

"Influenced by the top alterna-metal bands of the past few years (Jane's Addiction and Tool), along with the angry post-hardcore of Quicksand, Kansas City's Sacrifice Isaac rage with the best of them. On their second release, Migraine (the follow-up to 1995's debut Tough Row to How), Sacrifice Isaac shows that they are more straightforward in their musical approach than the above-mentioned bands, which is a plus since the group writes compelling rock. Instead of padding the songs with long, exploratory passages (like Tool does), their straight-to-the-point compositions stick in your head right away."

(Greg Prato, All Music Guide, 1998)

Jeff Salem, The migraine headache, undated. © 2007 Jeff Salem (see here)

Jeff Salem

"To create the migraine effectively, play letter (A) with the left hand, right hand play numbers 1-4 simultaneously with letter (A)." (Jeff Salem, THE MIGRAINE HEADACHE) [more]

The Schøyen Collection MS 2401, Oslo and London (see here)

The Schøyen Collection MS 2401

The manuscript in Neo Sumerian on clay, Babylonia, 2000-1800 BC, describes the ritual of the priests' dialogue with the Gods concerning incantations against migraine, drawing on mythological sources. [more]

Fred Sheftell, MD, Migraine Blues

Fred Sheftell, MD

"This song is from the 'Migraine Blues - Musical CME Headache Program'. Dr. Sheftell chose a blues format because for obvious reasons when it comes to migraine. The song reviews the characteristics of the attack, the associated disability and the search for relief. This program was accredited for CME and won an ACCME award for innovation in medical education. It was reviewed favorably in the the journals Headache, JAMA and Cephalalgia." (Cited from YouTube, February 12, 2009)

"Dr. Fred Sheftell is the founder of the New England Center for Headache and a past president of the American Headache Society. He is also a very talented musician. A few years ago, he put together a CD called 'Migraine Blues.' The CD was originally intended to be continuing medical education for doctors, but the songs and videos are great fun for everyone. Here, for your enjoyment, is the title cut, 'Migraine Blues.'" (Teri Robert, cited from Putting Our Heads Together, August 19, 2010)


Slipknot, music video "Skin Ticket", 2001

Song "Skin Ticket" from CD "Iowa" (2001) [more]

Slipknot, music video "Duality", 2004

Song "Duality" from CD "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses" (2004) - "I push my fingers into my eyes / It's the only thing that slowly stops the ache" [more]

"It is about a migraine. That's not what it means to me but that is what Corey intended it to be about. He had a migraine at the Houdini place and wrote a song about it. That is the meaning of the song."

(Kelsey666, Song Meanings - Slipknot - Duality, January 5, 2007)

"Duality is about how you push your fingers into your eyes when you have a headache or migraine. (... but it's made of all the things I have to take) refers to his medicine/pills."

(anonymous, Lyric interpretations - Slipknot - Duality Song meanings, July 23, 2006)

"It's not about a migraine you idiot. How does that make any sense. You're a real idiot to think up something that stupid."

(Disasterpiece, Lyric interpretations - Slipknot - Duality Song meanings, October 16, 2006)

"Hey guys, take it easy on the guy who wrote that it's about a migraine. No interpretations are wrong."

(anonymous, Lyric interpretations - Slipknot - Duality Song meanings, December 28, 2006)

"'I push my finger into my eye' is referring to how one holds their head when they have a migraine. A migraine brought about by making hard decisions. By looking at yourself, and not liking what you see, as well as thinking about how you got there and how to change. That is what I believe the song is about."

(anonymous, Lyric interpretations - Slipknot - Duality Song meanings, March 26, 2007)

"I'm pretty sure 'Duality' from Slipknot refers to a migraine, 'I push my fingers into my eyes... It's the only thing that slowly stops the ache..."

(mistermaxime, Yuku forum Visual snow or static - General discussions - Migraine and music, May 31, 2008)

Lidell Simpson

"Lidell Simpson, Composer; Ridgeland, Mississippi

The Sound of Silence II

I have profound sensorioneural nerve deafness since birth. I did not start wearing hearing aids until I was 5. I have vision to sound, touch to sound synesthesia which are the most prominent form. I also have to a lesser degree, smell to sound, taste to sound, body motion to sound synesthesia. In effect, just about all of my sensory perception has a sound counterpart. Even emotions gets translated to sound. And not so infrequently, certain techno music caused me to see blue blobs projected and certain sounds of music also get translated into sense of touch.

After a well received presensation of Dancing Lights as my first installment of my series of original works of The Sound of Silence I present my second and third installments in the series. This is my representation of what I called Neurochill Trance. The music empasised the vision/touch to sound synesthesia shown on an another level. I have for years had suffered debilitating migraines which was finally halted Ketamine. The first track is called Migraine showing what the migraines and resulting seizure I would get sounded like. The second track titled Mindwarp echoed the enhancement of my synesthesia under the influence of Ketamine. It opened a new sense of meditative ambient music."

(The 6th Annual National Conference of the American Synesthesia Association, Inc., University of South Florida St. Petersburg, January 26-28, 2007)

Troubled Hubble

Song "Migraine" from CD "Broken Airplanes" (2001) and "Penturbia" (2002) - "I've been a migraine sufferer for 10 years and basically the song is a release for me. It refers to my mother a lot, who is also a clinical headache sufferer. . 'i saw my mom floored, on her knees begging lord oh lord / take away this pain from me / i saw my mom floored, on her knees begging lord oh lord / can you help me please.'"

(Chris Otepka from Troubled Hubble, Email to Klaus Podoll, October 11, 2004) [more]

Jeff Tweedy

"If the album has a unifying theme, it's the casual descent of beauty into chaos; a number of songs start quietly and end in complete disorder-a form of musical entropy-perhaps inspired by Tweedy's lifelong battle with unpredictable migraine headaches."

(Akiva Gottlieb, Wilco - A Ghost Is Born, Stylus Magazine, June 21, 2004)

Various Artists, Migraine for my electro head, 2005. © 2005 Wanda Records (see here)

Visual Aura

"Visual Aura includes lead vocalist Erik Hustad, guitarists Zach Stivrins and Ryan Gartner, drummer Brunken Justin and Jerod Also on bass... Visual Aura is a medical term for colorful, flashing zigzag patterns that blind areas of one’s field of vision. Symptoms usually last less than 60 minutes. Gartner suffers from classic migraines, which can cause visual aura. Stivrins and Gartner describe Visual Aura’s music as 'energetic.' They said fans describe them as somewhere between Pink Floyd and thrash metal."

(Bri Hodge, Heavy Frequency Magazine - Visual Aura, 2006)

Paddy Walsh

"Hi Edith, nice site, I came to it by looking up Scintillating Scotomas. I've been having them since I was 12. Anyhow, just wanted to let you know that from my research, they are very predominant in people with artistic tendencies. I was the front man for Montreal' ska band the Kingpins for 5 years and have been singing/writing for most of my life. I also had an episode during a show in front of 1000 people. Very freaky experience. The only other person I know who has them is a friend of mine who happens to have been a painter/artist all his life. Maybe we creative types are just hard wired that way. Look at it as a badge of honor. CHEERS! Paddy, Montreal Canada."

(Paddy Walsh, Edith Frost's Homepage, August 1, 2005)

Wise guys, music video "Anna hat Migräne", 2001

Wise guys

Song "Anna hat Migräne" from CD album "Ganz weit vorne" (2001)

Weird Al Yankovic

Song "I'm so sick of you" from CD album "Bad hair day" (1996) - "Well, that disgusting noise you make when you laugh / gives me a throbbing migraine" [more]

Jesse Younan, CD album "A good day for a migraine", 2008. © 2008 Vitamin Records

Jesse Younan

CD album "A good day for a migraine" (2008)


Debussy C. Correspondance. Hermann, Paris 1993, p. 136 (lettre du 23 juillet 1898, à Georges Hartmann).
Haan J, Ferrari MD. Mahler's migraine. Cephalalgia 2000; 20: 254.
Podoll K. Alwa Glebe's imitatio Nietzsche: On elective affinities between migraine-inspired artists. In: Rose FC (ed) The Neurology of Music. Academic Press, London 2008 (in press)
Tweedy J. Shaking It Off. The New York Times, March 5, 2008.

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