Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Would You Ask: Music

Last week, Deanna asked:

"How do you hear/perceive music? Can you tell when music is out of tune or pleasant? Care to elaborate about your musical experiences?"

And a timely question, too, my dear, as I already had a draft written about music. Well played. Well played, indeed.

Questions about music and "how much can you hear" are tricky ones to answer. When someone asks how much I can hear, what they usually mean is, "How much can you hear compared to what I can hear?" If I don't know how hearing people hear, I'm not sure how to compare what I hear to what they hear, you hear?

giggle. I'm really so easily amused.

Ahem. Back to music. For most of my life, I cared more about the lyrics than the melody so I tended to listen to pretty mellow music where the instruments didn't drown out the song. Even then, it was a task. Back in the olden days, when people still bought CDs and owned CD players so they could rock out while they built Stonehenge, I would pop a CD in and open the little booklet it came with and read along with the music. I would count and memorize beats to keep me on track and I even used to count the seconds from the time the CD switched to a new track to the time the first word was sung.

Now I listen to music via the newfangled internets (iTunes and even YouTube) and I ask the Google(yes, I just said "the Google." I'm trying to make it catch on. Embrace it) for lyrics. I can usually read along pretty well but the printed lyrics don't always tell you everything, like maybe that they sing the chorus twice, not once, before the bridge, or that the first stanza is repeated at the end of the song. With YouTube, the only words on the screen are the ones being sung at that moment so I know what's going on. So it takes me a while to get to the point where I can listen to something without needing the read the lyrics... something as simple as learning a new song can be time-consuming

So while everyone else was rocking out to their Walkmans (Walk-what, now? my younger readers are asking. It's what the dinosaurs used before iPods came along), I was buried in books instead. Oh, and even with the volume set at its highest, I couldn't really hear the music through the headphones (head-what, now? It's what cavemen used before earbuds), so I was never into the mobile music scene. I also prefer male singers over female because the deeper voices are easier to understand. The ladies' voices are higher and seem to blend with the music in such a way that it's hard for me to separate the lyrics from the melody.

It's only been in recent years that I've really allowed myself to listen to the nuances of instrumental music, or instrumental interludes in songs. I can hear it and I can get caught up in whatever emotion it's trying to convey. I know when it's a powerful piece, or somber, or light, or cheerful. But I have to really be concentrating, otherwise it will just blur into frustrating background noise. I would guess, too, that I don't hear it as clearly or as sharply as hearing people do, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good performance.

I'm not sure how well I do at nothing whether or not something is out of tune. Do you guys remember The Little Rascals, when Alfalfa is singing to Darla in the beginning and his voice cracks? Every time I watched it with my friends, they would laugh because he sounded funny but I couldn't really tell that he wasn't singing well. But then the few times I've watched American Idol, I can usually tell the bad singers from the good ones and sometimes even the just okay singers from the better ones.

My friend Kelly wrote about her experiences with listening to music and while I was never a JT fan like she is ;), I can relate to how she appreciates music and the roles it has played in her life. Check her out or I will send the Google after you.

Mk, kids, it's your turn now. What do you want to know about hearing loss?


  1. I love music. I listen to it loud and enjoy certain types of music. c:

    I awarded you an award on my blog, go check it out!

  2. I'm thinking of getting an iPod for Julia (after she's more solid with the reading) so she can read the lyrics to her favorite songs.

    This is an awesome post, but your history is a bit off. Cavemen actually walked around with a boom box up on their shoulder ala Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. It's more like your grandparents generation that used the walkman!

  3. gaaack, you're so funny!

    here's a question for you; how do public speaking forums work best for you (aka. lectures, sermons, etc.)?