Take a sound holiday. Spend an hour without talking. Just listen. Really listen. Take in all the sound around you. Go for a walk. Go someplace and just listen.

We are surrounded by sound. It comes at us from all directions. Most of the time we don’t pay much attention, especially if we are hearing more or less the same kinds of sound repetitively. We react to sudden sounds, loud sounds or sounds that are unpleasant, due to our very old programing in the brain to be alert to something that could be dangerous.

We who teach singing are first professional listeners. It is crucial that we listen and learn to do so expertly. Yes, we also look, but mostly what we depend upon is how we hear. Oddly, audiology has been divorced from voice practically from the beginning of the days of both sciences. Perhaps that was because both of them are complex and they had to be separated for convenience of examination. Don’t know. Now, however, we have almost no data about how hearing impacts singing except in very broad categories. Clearly, being around loud sounds all the time causes you to lose your hearing, as does age. We don’t know, however, how hearing capacity impacts what we can do with what we hear. Maybe some people are better at hearing than others, even within normal ranges? Maybe 10% of the population are “super hearers”? What would that be like?

Alfred Tomatis, an otolaryngologist from Nice, had such ideas but he was not involved in the mainstream community of voice science research. He set out on his own. He has been dead quite a while but left behind two books that are fascinating in that they look at hearing as if it mattered. His work has been continued by others who have influenced how it is disseminated, so it may be that what is out there now has evolved. If you know, please alert me.

Take a “sound” trip. I would be interested in knowing what you discover. Send me your comments.

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3 thoughts on “Sound”

  1. I strongly believe that musicians have, generally speaking, more acute hearing than folks who aren’t musicians.

    All the subtleties of tone, and such. Higher level musicians just hear that stuff. Regular folks don’t.

    My opinion.


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