The music for an hearing impaired


I have not written about music yet.
In a blog of/for the deaf and hearing impaired (and blind and visually impaired) it should have be a topic of prime importance to deal with at the third post or so.
This involuntary delay befits a recent thinking on my relationship with music.

I like music. I like the Italian one, I like rock, dark, pop, reggae, grunge.
As a child I learned to play the piano. I remember that I was good. Very promising. But I quit. At school we were taught to play the flute. I always wanted to learn to play guitar, then I was passionate with saxophone and recently I had the idea to try with the accordion. Obviously I do not have clear ideas and maybe the necessary determination. Pheraps I’m missing a real boost of passion.
I am not a good percussionist and even if sometimes I sing in public and I like to sing, people often point out that I am out of tune.
I listen to music, but I’m not one of those who run with headphones in their ears, and always with the iPod in their pocket. In my house where I have two hi-fi,
but I have not brought them with me in my last move. Now I have a small system, but it is always off. I have a clock radio in the kitchen that I turn on when I cook.

Following this introduction, we would say that my relationship with music is terrible and almost non-existent.
Yet when I listen to some songs I get touched. Other times I listen to music while I read the lyrics. I playback for certain songs even 10 times.

The point is that I recognize that many of my friends are constantly listening to music. They always have a song in the ears and the first thing they do when they come home is to turn on the stereo or computer and put some music. Most of my friends play an instrument and they are able to sing a song following the right rythm

Why not me?

I am of the opinion that if I bone up seriously I could learn an instrument, I could improve my sense of rhythm (perfect when I dance 80s music), but ‘others’ have innate sense of rhythm and have not learned, the have always had it.
Moreover, for many people the car is one of the perfect ‘places’ for listening to music. Even if it is really loud no one says anything, and you can not do anything else than listening while driving and go with your journey within the journey.
Also this possibility is denied.
I never asked if the hearing loss is the cause of my musical limitations, but recently I was convinced that I shall blame it for this and set against all the faults.
But Beethoven was deaf.
Yes, one. Just one. Deaf after becoming Beethoven probably.
I have persuaded myselves that I never got the rythm because I’ve never heard it well.
I never learned the songs of cartoons when I was a child and every time I turned the music loud to hear (and listen) it properly my father came in my room to tell me to turn it down.
Then I moved to live alone the problem were not roommates, but the neighbors.
If I put the headphones while walking down the street I am so isolated from the world that I feel in danger. Retinitis pigmentosa limits my attention to what happens and if I blank out the little hearing I have left I turn into a human caterpillar that puts at risk the lives of small children and my own.

This does not mean that I do not get goosebumps when I listen to
Venus, The Air
Mad World – Gary Jules
Half Light I – Arcade Fire
Just Breathe – Pearl Jam
Off He Goes : Pearl Jam
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
As I Sat Sadly By Her Side – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
(just to name a few)
for the melody, to the words, for what they mean to me.


And you? What is your relationship with music? How di you get the emotions of a song?

Live music deserves a separate mention, where the violent vibrations, people, lights, sounds transforms listening into a total sensory experience, where the degree of hearing loss is less important, because the music becomes part of the body and you listen with the whole body, not just the ears

5 comments from the community

  1. At one point I realized that being hard of hearing actually gives me two perspectives on music: with and without hearing aids. I love hearing music with both of these perspectives, and do all the time. It’s interesting, often the bass line will become the melody, different voices stand out more than others, etc… something that I’m quite thankful for actually! Great post.

  2. This is interesting. I actually never listen to music with hearing aids. I find it a bit fake. But I might give it another try. After your comment I want to focus on the difference.

  3. nice post!But I am not sure if I totally agree.
    I believe that when we talk about hearing impaired people and music, in fact we talk about different interpretations. As far as I know, and can understand music as an art form, not everyone can listen to a song in the same way, like not everyone can see a painting from the same point or view. And of course not in the same way. So, probably people don’t see and don’t listen to the same things anyway. “I don’t hear something well”, then becomes “I hear it differently”. That’s why I am convinced that music could meet ‘progress’,new forms, through hearing impaired composers. And that’s why I am not sure how much can hearing impairment can affect someone’s ability to listen to music “well”. Of course you listen differently than I do, but I am not sure how differently. I would really love to manage to listen in the way you do, but I don’t know how and if I can (probably I can’t). As Mr.Ungstad says in the post above, you are lucky to be able to listen in both ways. But I totally doubt about the ability to listen “well” or produce music.
    From personal experience I can admit, that I don’t manage to sing in tune. I can’t get it! and of course I can’t reproduce it! People say that I am always out of tune when I sing, and I can realize that sometimes, but not always! And this is why I found your post very interesting and wanted to reply at first. What you describe is totally what I have thought about myself and music, although I am not a hearing impaired person and had to blame my lack of a ‘music ear’, as it is called. And so many people like me! and although we love music, we can’t get the tune, we are not so close to it anyway, no matter the goosebumps and the feelings we get when we listen to it. no matter our efforts and our desire that we wish we played an instrument. So then, don’t we talk about a ‘flair’ for music, rather than a hearing loss or ability?
    It is very interesting on the other hand, that in visual arts we have been more progressive, both in results (art produced from visually impaired) and in theory (how we understand the meaning of the different interpretation). But why not in music?

  4. This interesting and clear comment deserve some attention. If you don’t mind I would like to highlight it and bring it to the attention of the readers and followers of Noisyvision.
    What you say is exactly what I believe that perception is.
    I usually apply the concepts and ideas you mentioned to VISION, but in this comment it is perfectly explained how the same ideas can refer to hearing (NOISY).

    I would like to attempt an answer to the closing question
    Why visual art of visually impaired is more ‘ahead’ than music of hearing imapired?
    I think because to make music you cannot avoid the knowledge of a technique, for which ever intrument it might be. Instead visual art can be basically anything and you do not need to be a painter, a photographer or whoever professionist to be able to make some visual art, good or bad. Like it or not.

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