screenshot from the Kelly Clarkson Show
In CODA, which was nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, the deaf father of the family loves listening to hip hop loud in his car. He turns up the sound to hear the beats vibrate through his body.
One of the film’s co-stars, Daniel Durant, who plays the brother of the main character, has a similar affinity.
“I’m completely deaf. I can’t feel anything, but I love feeling the vibration through my body,” he explained to the Kelly Clarkson showpromoting CODA.
Using American Sign Language, he said he learned to listen to music as a child on long car rides while traveling to his soccer games. “Sometimes I would ask my mom, ‘Can you turn up the volume so I can hear the bass?’ And my mom said, “Yeah,” but we had a hard time hearing it. So my mom bought a new sound system and I loved it. You could hear the bass. It was so loud. The windows were shaking. It was so good. “
One day he stayed in the car as his mother walked into a shop. She turned on the new sound system and started dancing for her. “I loved it. I could feel the car shake. I was having so much fun.” He said. A stranger drove by and rolled down the window to look at him.
“I was just imagining it must be like, ‘Wow, you have such a nice system, you play a great song.’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ And I started dancing with him and another person stopped. She was a woman, same thing. I pointed to her and kept dancing. “
When her mother came out of the shop, she asked her what song it was.
“He started laughing,” he recalled. “You’re listening to NPR radio.”
Durant didn’t say exactly which program or segment he was playing to.
“There is a rhythmic aspect to speaking. Our voices are filled with various inflections and vocalizations,” says Jessica Allison Holmes, assistant professor of musicology at the University of Copenhagen. “With the right speaker system in your car, a booming voice could come and you could hear it. Sure, you could go wild on the news.”
Holmes is writing a book on music and deafness and claims that deaf people offer a much broader understanding of music than hearing people. “Deafness is a different ideological, physiological, cultural and linguistic experience,” he says. “No two dead experiences of music are alike.”
In his research, he found that many deaf people have developed a very sophisticated conception of sound that is multisensory. “Of course, rhythm and vibration are very important, but the visual cues are equally important,” she says. Case in point: Holmes ‘uncle, who is profoundly deaf, loves going to the opera, where he can experience the emotional trajectory on the singers’ faces. “But he also says that if the music isn’t loud enough or percussive enough, he’s not interested.”
Electronic dance music and death metal are popular with some deaf people, he says, pointing to a non-profit music collective in the UK called Deaf Rave, which hosts Def Leppard music festivals in venues with state-of-the-art sound systems and subwoofers to optimize. the bass. American deaf culture has a strong tradition of what is known as “song singing”, using ASL alongside singers like Eminem or Meghan Thee Stallion at concerts. “They’re not trying to provide a one-to-one translation of the music or the lyrics,” she says. “Signs become their form of spatial visual music that can often function independently.”
Audiologist Brian Fligor, president of Tobias and Battite Hearing Wellness in Massachusetts, says that generally deaf people, whether or not they use hearing aids or cochlear implants, will record lower sounds better than higher pitched ones. “Dance music, rap and hard rock tend to be more interesting, at least to the dead people I’ve worked with,” he says, adding that some classical percussion-rich music could also be interesting. He indicates to compose Richard Wagner, or the theme of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Fligor, a member of the American Academy of Audiology, says you need little or no hearing ability to enjoy music, as long as your vestibular system is functioning. This is the sensory system, “specifically the part of the inner ear that tells where our head is in space and whether we are moving or turning,” he says. It is awareness of pressure or balance. That system can be stimulated by things like low frequency beats and sounds, a phenomenon that according to Fligor is called the “rock and roll effect”.
“Even if you don’t really hear the music, your vestibular system is stimulated by very loud sounds,” he says. “And it gives you a little endorphin rush, a little high.”
In this sense, he says, music can be a bridge to unite the cultures of the deaf and hearing.