Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tingle Triggers: Iron Maiden

Bruce Dickinson in Stuttgart 1999 (3rd version) I listen to some good old heavy metal songs from time to time. Among some the bands I listen to that were at their height during the 1980’s are Iron Maiden.

The band is often credited with being one the most influential heavy metal acts of all time, with Bruce Dickinson considered one the greatest vocalists in the musical genre.

One of their songs also happens to act as a trigger for my Type B ASMR. The track is called “Number of the Beast” – which is also incidentally voted one of their best songs. It’s the intro however that does it for me.

You have a deep voice belonging to Barry Clayton (some mistakenly think it's Vince Price) who says the following lines at the beginning:

“Woe to you, oh earth and sea,
For the devil sends the beast with wrath,
Because he knows the time is short.

Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast,
For it is a human number.
Its number is six hundred and sixty six.”


So once again, as with my post about the song by Leonard Cohen, called “The Letters”, its undoubtedly the lyrics that can trigger it off for me, more than the instruments do.

I’ve got a link here that will take you to a free preview of the track so you can listen. It’s just the beginning bit you should hear. I’m not guaranteeing it will work for you seeing as these triggers don’t always work for everyone.

One of the reasons why I’m a little concerned about editing and uploading a sample of he track (which I have)  is because I don’t want to land up in any trouble. The RIAA and other such names jump on music piracy and so on nowadays.

Monday, July 26, 2010

ASMR and Video Games: Part I

I’ve seen videos off of YouTube posted on the ASMR Group’s wall on Facebook which showed certain video game trailers and so on that likely triggered ASMR for the viewer who recommended it.

This led me to think about games that I’ve played in the past that may have created this sort of sensation. Now, as my profile on the ASMR Research& Support website would suggest, I like to play the odd video game from time to time. I mean, who doesn’t nowadays? It’s become a huge industry, with much more progress to make over the years to come according to some.

I not only do it  to relax and unwind, but also because I have a fascination with sound and music in video games. I’ve had this for as long as I can remember, and I’ve collected sound libraries that would span many gigabytes, all stashed on CDS, DVDs, and on my hard drive too.

So this is quite fortunate, as I can therefore go through all of them, (or some of them anyway – too many!), and listen to some of the sounds which I felt triggered ASMR for me at one point while playing certain games. Not all of them trigger it for me, but some might, and in the past I might not have even been that aware that it was happening at the time. This creates a bit of a problem as it means I might not have any examples to write of.

But I can think of a few maybe off the top of my head.

Garrett One would probably be the Thief series. Anybody who’s into games, and may have played Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age, or Thief: Deadly Shadows, knows that the series is well known for not only it’s reliance on stealth tactics in the game to survive, but also sound. Whether it’s eavesdropping on conversations, watching out for footsteps coming down corridors, or just listening to the ambient sounds and music, it’s a series of games that I’ve loved for many years, and spent quite a bit of time searching for the sounds from those games.

The files that are on the games’ CDs can usually be opened up with a program like Dragon Unpacker, which I’ve used numerous times over the years. It has support for many different file types. But as for TDP, I’ve had to resort to the internet seeing as my CD doesn’t work anymore.

And as I listen to the sounds in my collection, I’m not surprised that not only is the sound in these games quite superb, as I’ve known for some time, but also triggers off the sensation for me at times, especially when listening to some of the characters, like the fences in Thief: Deadly Shadows, or even the sly anti-hero protagonist, Garrett. He has quite a soft spoken voice, and tends to talk under his breath at points. This is likely a few of the reasons why I’ve replayed these titles so many times.

Another example might be System Shock 2. It was co-developed along with Irrational Games by the same studio that made Thief - Looking Glass Studios - which went under nigh on ten years ago.

SHODAN For this reason, it shares a number of voice actors from said series – except this time, most of the voices that you’ll hear in the game are those recorded on audio logs. I can still recall reaching the last bit of the game years ago and sitting there with my headphones on just listening to all of the logs, messages,  e-mails and so on.

I guess more recent examples might include BioShock 1& 2, which are essentially spiritual successors to the System Shock series, as they too were developed by Irrational, which is still around to this day, although it went under a name change at one point before eventually reverting back to its original. These titles, much like SS, had audio which could be found on records that were strewn around the games.

I don’t want to say that every game triggers ASMR for me, because it isn’t true, but generally games with high quality sound and voice acting, along with a fair share of dialogue to go with it, would be more likely candidates to pull it off. And even then, only a select handful of the characters’ voices in those games would achieve any sort of reaction.

Mainly they are soft-spoken, whispering, or those with a slow, methodical way of talking – and this is exactly the sort of voice we all look for when it comes to this wonderful sensation, when we want to trigger it off.

This is the first in a series of posts as regards ASMR triggers encountered in video games. Stay tuned for more to come!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ASMR Forums Now Open

Just got word today from Envelope that the new ASMR forums are up and operational.

So now in addition to the Facebook ASMR Group discussion threads, you can chat about stuff ASMR-related here too.

So far there aren’t any members besides the ASMR team members, and there aren’t any posts. But anybody is free to sign up for an account. If you do, I’m obliged to tell you to read the rules and so on, and abide by them.

So go ahead and see what’s going on. You should be able to post and use it like you would any other forum. There are threads for practically everything you can think of.

By the way, I thought that I would mentioned that Envelope has been working on the website layout and all, and I must say it’s looking good. Loading pages takes hardly any time at all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What sort of Music Triggers ASMR?

Something that I don’t often talk about is music and how it can affect us and spur on bouts of head tingles. This seems to work for ASMR Type A and B experiencers – even among the ASMR team.

I’ve often seen some posts on the wall over at the ASMR Group which talk about music tracks and music videos that act as triggers. Some say it’s the electronica, ambient, or orchestral scores that often do it.

It’s not something that I experience a lot. My “braingasms” are usually triggered by sounds or voices – not really instruments. But that’s not so say that listening to the lyrics, and the voice of the person singing, doesn’t trigger it. Because it does once in a while.

One example I can think of is years ago when I listened to a track which was on a sample CD handed out by Musica or some similar store. It had on it a number of samples from famous songs from past decades. One of these in particular was a track named “The Letters” by Leonard Cohen, off of his album, Dear Heather.

Apart from the annoying voice of the narrator or commentator cutting in early during the track, just listening to the soft lyrics and talking during the song triggered it something wicked for me. It was amazing.

I still have the sample track. But instead of uploading it, I decided that I would rather just direct you to the page at Amazon where you can preview the track for free. It takes less time (for me anyway), and you don’t have to listen to that idiot cutting in like I had to.

If you’re interested though, you can buy the full track. Not sure if it will work for you, but give it a try. It certainly did something for me. If it does trigger ASMR, you might also want to look into some of his albums. I certainly will. I initially thought he was black because his voice was so smooth, but Cohen is a Jewish name as far as I know.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Audio Experiments: Got my Headset and Mic Working… sort of

Okay, so I got my headset set up. I’ve been through a number of different microphones over the years, and none of them work the same as the other.

I’ve had one that was just a microphone without the headset attached that had little problems in working initially, but then I bent it the one day and it stopped working so well.

From there I started using the usual headset with microphone, and it sounded horrible when recording and on playback, until I mucked around with the motherboard, and stopped using Rear Mic, and instead the Microphone port in the front. Then it was much better.

That one eventually broke, because the cable got twisted, and my speakers went at about the same time. Another new headset and speakers later and I proceeded to test out my mic. It didn’t have very good recording quality on it, but the headset’s sound was pretty good. The headset was too heavy for me as well – it hurt my ears every time I wore it.

Then I had to give that one back to my brother after having borrowed it for years, and bought my own pair. And it wasn’t a cheap one like some of the others. And that’s the one I’m using now.

I’m still working out some of the bugs in getting it to work just right, but when I do, I’ll be able to record my own stuff and upload it. I have plans for UNF to have some sort of podcast, or else just me talking or whispering, which might trigger off ASMR for someone out there. I don’t guarantee that I have that sort of voice that would trigger it off, but I imagine I am quite well spoken, and have a bit of a British accent, seeing as it does run in my blood. Most of my family is from the UK - especially on my mom’s side.

I’ve read that some people, including those on the ASMR team like Adam and Domagoj can get ASMR just from reading or paying attention to things to do with ASMR, so there might be some hope. I’m still figuring out my approach, though.

Leave a comment or send me an email if you have any suggestions.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Theory: Is ASMR Actually a type of Synaesthesia?

It’s been a concern in my mind for the past while that what we have been researching and referring to as ASMR or other names might all ready be out there, perhaps known by another name.
One theory that has cropped up in several places in threads or forums about ASMR or AIE is that it’s called synaesthesia. And that people who experience it are known as synaesthetes.

There’s a website about it with research taking place at the University of Waterloo under the Synaesthesia Research Group. If you take a look at the index or splash page, you might see some similarities between the two when you read the write up:
“Synaesthesia is a condition in which ordinary stimuli lead to extraordinary experiences. There are many types of synaesthesia. Some synaesthetes have conscious experiences of vivid colors when listening to music or hearing other types of sounds. Other synaesthetes experience strong tactile sensations (itching, tingling) when hearing noises such as those emitted by a vacuum cleaner."
Now, note I underlined a few sentences there that we can relate to with ASMR. Especially with predominantly Type B ASMR experiencers, like myself, where sounds and other external stimuli act as triggers which initiate the sensation.

But when I look at the rest of it, even the theme of the website seems to suggest that it’s more related to colours. When people see, hear or think about something to do with letters or numbers, it sets off a visual experience, which from what I understand makes them “see” colours. Whether they literally see colours or not I don’t know. I don’t experience it.

And it also doesn’t explain Type A ASMR experiencers, who claim to not need any sort of external stimuli to elicit these sensations we’ve come to experience. They get it by a form of meditation or by thinking back to a past ASMR experience, in some cases.

And when they talk about listening to sounds, they don’t list a lot of triggers that could set it off. I certainly don’t get it while listening to a vacuum cleaner, of all things. That would likely be low on the list of things that set it off for me, personally. Now when someone uses a broom, a rake, or a dustpan and brush – now we’re talking.

I don’t know if anyone in the ASMR community experiences colours like the website explains. As far as I know we all mainly get the tingling sensations in the head which can spread to other body parts. I don’t even know if ASMR is as widespread as synaesthesia. ASMR could just be one grouping of synaesthesia. I know you don’t want to believe it, but there it is. It could be a possibility.

I’ve talked about this to other members of the core group, and even though some of us might be open to the idea, I’m sure the rest of us, myself included, would be quite disappointed. We want ASMR to be something special and new. And it is. I’ve noticed how on these threads, ASMR experiencers have defended it, and pretty much disagreed with the synaesthesia theory.

I would definitely still run the blog and continue to participate within the network and community. So I don’t know if it would really even change that much it it were true. I’d have to change the bloody name of the blog and all that other stuff though.

Here's to hoping.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ASMR Research and Support Looking for More Team Members

I got a message on Facebook the other day where Team Organiser, Envelope, says it’s time for some expansion as regards the core team within the ASMR group.

Currently, in addition to Envelope, the founder of the ASMR Group on Facebook, and Webmistress of ASMR Research& Support, we have:

Adam – Chronicler
Ryan – Public Relations, and founder of Society of Sensationalists 
Michela – Research and Oversight
Chaz – Outreach Agent for Eastern United States
Domagoj – Outreach Agent for Europe
Andrew (Me) – Outreach Agent for Africa, and webmaster of this site/blog, UNF.

As for the expansion, Envelope says that she will be doing her bit in order to find some new team members, including putting a poll up over on Facebook, as well as contacting specific members of the group personally and so on.

I said I would make a post here for my effort.

We need outreach agents for England, and East and West Canada. Apparently a number of experiencers reside in these locations. Other locations include the Western United States, Australia, and Asia.

I also added in South America and Central America too, and joked with Envelope about Antarctica! If anyone does live there, having this sensation will be among one of the last things on their minds.

In addition to the outreach positions, we need some advisors, specifically specialising in areas such as Neuroscience, General Medicine, and Psychology.

What will your tasks be? Well, besides being an active participating member of the group and team, outreach agents, like myself, usually comb the internet looking for forums or websites that contain people talking about things ASMR related, and contact those potential experiencers who may be interested in learning more, and possibly joining the group. You can do other things, such as run a blog or website, like I do, and contribute to the ASMR Network and community as a whole.

The role of advisors hasn’t been discussed in detail within the team, but I’m going out on a limb, and saying that they will likely have some medical knowledge of sorts, and may well be involved in the necessary professions - such as a doctor, surgeon, or psychologist; perhaps even a scientist of sorts.

Any interested parties may leave a comment here on this post or on the blog somewhere (I’ll find it, don’t worry). Please leave your website or e-mail or something, so I can get back to you. There have been instances where those who leave anonymous comments have been of interest to the group, and we had nearly no way of finding out who it was. You can also e-mail me.

Otherwise, you can contact Envelope at jallen@asmr-research.org , and while you’re at it and haven’t joined all ready, visit the ASMR Group on Facebook too.

Thanks for reading, and hope to hear from you on this matter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What is the Typical ASMR Personality Type?

We know that not everybody experiences ASMR, or at least not to the extent that some of us do. I don’t know the numbers exactly either, but synaesthesia, a theory that some suggest could be ASMR, or related to it, apparently has about 1 in 2000 people who possess it.

But what sort of people experience ASMR in general?

I’ve come across some threads discussing this, and there are a few qualities that ASMR experiencers seem to have in common, either deducted by just reading their posts, or because they agreed and admitted that this applied to them.

The common belief is that most if not all of us are intelligent, civilised, observant, perceptive, sensitive, spiritual, artistic, empathic, lonely, non-conformists, and gullible or innocent.

Somewhat more negative qualities that we might possess include being obsessive-compulsive or suffering from OCD (which I do to an extent), perfectionism; that we might have difficulty relating, and also be absent minded.

Not all of these traits, positive or negative, may apply to all of us. For one I’ll talk about myself if I may.

I said above that I’ve had bouts of OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder over the course of my life which has usually come and gone but isn’t as bad as it used to be – or so it seems. Maybe I just got used to doing the things I do which others perceive as weird.

Tying in to this is bacteriaphobia which some commonly, and quite incorrectly, refer to as germophobia: the fear of germs. I might also have a bit of a perfectionist spirit at times which I have learnt to perhaps overcome, seeing as I know nothing and nobody is perfect. But I do like to try my best though. I’m also quite concerned with having good spelling and grammar in my writing efforts. I think it shows a bit of professionalism, and that you’re also computer-literate and know how to use the spellchecker.

I would consider myself to be more observant, perceptive, smart, perhaps artistic too. I’ve done a few good paintings in my time, but that was years ago in school, and I’ve been interested in music, but just never really followed through with it. Writing and blogging is my real creative outlet, I would think.

As for being lonely. Well, I’m alone, and I like it that way most of the time. Large groups of people, and crowds usually make me cringe. I don’t mind small groups with say four people including me, but any more than that and I start to feel uncomfortable.

I do regard myself as a rebel or non-conformist. I’ve never really fit in anywhere in my life with groups, gangs and so on, seeing as I like to do my own thing, and go my own way.

I am somewhat sensitive, quite quick to anger sometimes particularly when people don’t respect me or my personal space or belongings. You can imagine I was bullied a lot at school, mainly emotionally or psychologically more than physically. I think this was mainly because I was bigger or taller than most of the other kids anyway. And when I did get into fights I could get quite aggressive seeing as like I said I get mad quickly sometimes.

People also used to take advantage of me because of that sensitivity and naiveté, which made me bitter, angry, and hateful over the years. I don’t trust so easily anymore. I think that throws the empathetic trait out the window too, seeing as I became so cynical over the years that I don’t much care for others any more. But I do have that sort of quality when it comes to animals – which is what others at a discussion thread such as As It Normal, have said too. Some said they despise most people. I can’t say I don’t agree.

I also think I’m more civilised than a lot of these people out in the world today. I was raised right and was taught how to behave and act properly, but it’s a shame when you realise that a lot of people out there maybe weren’t so fortunate or educated, and you end up having to unlearn a lot of these good habits, or at least adopt some bad ones to hold your own out there in a world full of sick people.

So, I’ve ranted for quite a bit, but you perhaps know more about me, and rest assured that I have more empathy for people who experience ASMR and its supporters, seeing as we all seem to be in the same boat; we’ve all been through bad experiences, perhaps with other people.

They don’t experience ASMR, they don’t have the gift, and in our world at least, they are the outsiders, who will perhaps never learn, understand, or experience what we do.

Maybe they’re not meant to.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Theory: ASMR has External as well as Internal Effects

I’ve noticed something while experiencing ASMR. 

I sometimes, on a bad hair day, wear a hat. I have long hair, not unlike the typical look rocked by many heavy metal band members, some of which I listen to from time to time.

While I was experiencing a hit the one day, I saw that the peak of my cap actually started to lift up and down, more or less in tune with the “tidal pulses” I usually experience during the event.

This led me to think that this sensation not only has internal effects, like the customary tingles and pulses, or ripples, but also external, physical effects too. And it makes sense seeing as the scalp, outside the head and body, actually seems to expand and contract, or move backwards and forwards (at least with me it does  anyway), during the sensation’s duration.

Hey, that last bit rhymed.

When it starts to subside, then my cap just came down and stayed still.

This also ties in with people claiming to get gooseflesh on the arms and l at times when experiencing ASMR. This would be another external effect that some have.

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