Musicophobia: an appendix to the Devil’s Dictionary

Today’s entry represents a small appendix to the complete Devil’s Dictionary of Scientific Words and Phrases, which can be seen here.

As always, suggestions for new entries are welcome!


A small glossary of terms for the fears and conditions that commonly impede the performance or appreciation of music, many of which are entirely justified.


all entries in the Devil’s Dictionary copyright 2019 by Russ Hodge


1812 syndrome a fear that the cannons pointed at the public during a performance of Tchaikovsky’s overture are loaded with real ammunition

aquatonophobia a fear of being unable to control one’s compulsion to sing in the shower, or any time it rains

arcocidophobia a fear of being fatally stabbed when your stand partner’s bow penetrates your ear

batonocidophobia a fear of being stabbed by a baton released by a conductor, at which point you discover the tip has somehow been dabbed with a toxic substance

bizetophobia a fear of falling in love with the lead singer in an opera, which almost always turns out badly for everyone involved

bombasturinophobia a fear that your bladder will burst during a concert

chorophobia a fear of church choirs or the robes they wear

carillonophobia a fear of bell towers, particularly amongst those living near them

chromataphobia a fear of playing a piece which has been written in a key with more than one or two sharps or flats, just out of malice on the part of the composer

chutephobia a fear of falling into an orchestra pit, impaling yourself a music stand, and becoming trapped there until you bleed out or starve to death

cornemusophobia a fear of ancient reed instruments that produce bleating sounds, usually out of tune

cornoviperophobia a fear that a poisonous snake has crept into your French horn and is residing in one of those inaccessible curves

dingalingophobia a fear of missing one’s cue while performing in a bell choir

dongiovannitis a fear that a zombie will appear onstage during an opera

faintophobia a fear of locking your knees and fainting while singing in a choir, particularly when standing on one of the high risers at the back

fermataphobia a fear that a conductor will hold a note so long that a singer or wind player will asphyxiate

fortissimoflatulaphobia a fear of audibly releasing gas during a concert

gamelonophobia a fear of tonal systems in which octaves are not subdivided into 12 equal parts

karaokephobia a fear of being compelled to sing a solo in public

lloydweberphobia a fear of being compelled to attend a musical after being given tickets as a birthday present

mumphphobia a fear of opening your mouth to sing and nothing comes out, possibly because someone has stuffed a sock in it

music stand collapse anxiety a self-explanatory term

nibelungenphobia a fear that you will die during the performance of a particularly long opera

ohrwurmophobia a fear of getting a tune permanently stuck in one’s head, especially an advertising jingle, children’s song, or polka

reveillephobia a fear of being roused from sleep by a loud trumpet blasting in one’s ear

ringtonophobia severe anxiety caused by not being sure whether you have turned off your cell phone during a concert, or that if one goes off people will think it’s yours

saxamorophobia a fear of falling in love with a saxophone player, which almost always turns out badly

shankarophobia a fear of being trapped in a concert of Indian music that lasts for 12 or 14 hours

sourdaphobia a fear of peforming so badly that a listener to goes deaf, or wishes that he would

sousaphobia a fear of marching bands, which is almost always perfectly justified

stockhausen syndrome a fear of learning to like 12-tone music

tremeloseismophobia a fear that the dissonance created by bad tuning in the bass section will cause vibrations that register on the Richter scale

tritenorophobia a fear of any event involving three tenors

trombocularphobia a fear that your eye will be poked out by a trombone player

valkyriphobia a fear of very large altos

victrolaphobia a fear of becoming paralyzed while trapped in a room with a skipping record

violaphobia a fear of an unnatural behavior on the part of viola players that will lower the quality of their performance even below the expected standards, including fearing that they won’t show up on time, that they will show up on time, fearing that they will be sober when they show up, that they will have remembered to bring their bows, that they accidentally play the right piece, read the right clef, etc. etc.


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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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