Does this happen to other people?
Occasionally when I listen to or play some tunes and have a certain frame of mind, they can easily 'turn inside out' and the timing sounds wrong and the melody makes no sense to me. Then I can play it or listen to it gain with changing my mind set and they are then fine. I have my own theory about when this happens- I find this usually only happens to me if all notes are given equal emphasis. When there is an emphasis on the important notes of the melody and less emphasis on the rhythm notes, this never occurs for me.
I have found this also happens occasionally when I play in a session with an oldtime guitar player who goes heavy on the backbeat while the other players are heavy on the fore beat...thus again creating an overall sense of equal emphasis on all notes. Whenever this happens (and I can often 'hear it coming'), people stop playing and get confused and they can't seem to put their finger on what's happening, but they know something's not right. They usually say something vague about things sounding 'backwards' or 'inside out' ...and it's not that people are in a different place in the tune from each other. I usually don't say anything because it would imply that guitar player is doing something 'wrong' and it would probably be a hard thing for them to change in their playing style. People just muddle through then and we move on to another tune.
What are other people's experiences with this phenomenon and how do you deal with it?
I have experienced this strange phenomenon, but only while listening to tapes or CD's in the car. For me it's a rare occurrence, and can definitely happen to tunes I know well. I've never had this happen with live music, but I'm glad to know I'm not alone. It gives me a really weird feeling when this happens, because the music sounds totally nonsensical. Somehow the brain is processing the musical phrasing out of phase, and try as you may, you can't rectify it.
Did either of you come of age in the 1960s?...
Yes, I did anyway, but it just occurred to me that this never happens with songs with lyrics. I think the verbal processing automatically keeps the melody in sync.
Just kidding! ;)
I too sometimes experience what Rob has been describing. It's rather startling when your brain realizes how to 'hear' the beat emphasis correctly, flips it around in your head while listening, and suddenly it's not jibberish after all, but rather a familiar tune that you already know...!
It' a little like hearing someone with a heavy foreign accent talking, thinking they are speaking in their native language and you cannot understand a thing, then suddenly realizing they are actually speaking english and from that moment on you can understand everything they are saying.