Nanette Florian, a musician with severe hearing loss, has founded Hear Music Again, where she presents music to people with hearing loss.
People with hearing loss are stressed! We reach for a sound, make a face, and then we’re either sort of satisfied or you just fake it.
The same goes for music. I hear with a cochlear processor now (big hearing aids before that) and music is mostly noisy. Once in a while, though, a clear musical tone will reach me. Wow! I wonder, “why did I hear that?”
I’m going to share with you those memorable moments. I will never forget what I heard and where I was.
She was an opera singer with a beautiful voice. I don’t think we could even see her, her voice was in the back round, which was amazing because I always rely on the visual.
We were in our living room in front of the TV watching, I really don’t remember, possibly a documentary, with, of course the closed captions going. I suddenly snapped to attention and heard it perfectly.
She sang acapella (without accompaniment), and the sound drew me in…
One simple note at a time. Now, when I hear that, I enjoy a big involuntary deep breath.
Why did I hear it? Because one clean note alone was presented. Because the female voice falls into the correct frequency range for someone with a CI or hearing aid. Because her tone rings out like a bell and since she is singing alone, there is no other tones competing with it to mush it up.
Confession: This is not the original sound I heard, nor is it as good. And it’s a lesson for us. Too much reverb. Reverb is our enemy.
For me, though, I still enjoy the above voice.
For my radio stations, I pick out the most upfront, crisp songs without reverb. I simply COULD NOT FIND any recordings of a female opera singer without an accompaniment! I would LOVE to find acapella music because it’s one simple note and if any readers have knowledge of any, please let me know. I think you can respond to the blog.
In my musical listening experiments, I quickly caught on that female singers stay in tune for me through my cochlear processer. Male voices do not.
Lower male voices end up (for me, through my cochlear processor) 1/2 key lower than the accompaniment. Meaning the other instruments in the song stay on the original key, but the male voice doesn’t. A tenor voice (higher male voice) might stay where it should through my processor, but a strong, low, male voice always dips down 1/2 key.
I’ve read that the Cochlear processor doesn’t process lower sounds, and there’s not much we can do about this.
I can tell you, though, that when I’m listening to my Hear Music Again radio stations, the sound is crisp and clear to me. This is still a huge step up from the mushy stuff I hear everywhere else. So even if the intonation is a bit off, it’s still very enjoyable.
Of course we all hear at different levels. I once heard music, lost my hearing, hear through the processor, and hear the songs on my radio stations really well! People like me will also love it.
My next memorable moment is the time I walked into a gift shop in West Hartford because I was shopping for Christmas presents for my teenage daughter. The shop had a Zen vibe and although I’m not very familiar with Zenny things, I was drawn to the brassy singing bowls display and asked the clerk for help. She picked up the wand, and circled it around the rim of the bowl…
What a clear, true sound!! Not only did I hear it and loved it, I could also feel the vibrations! It was so cool that I took over the wand and easily made the beautiful sound myself which gave the instrument and myself a lovely connection, and I bought it! I’ll bet you heard that!
I’ve always been a sucker for garden shop wind chimes. When I arrive, I make a B line right for them. The big ones! I’m desperate for BIG sound!! I’m like a cat teasing its toy, and pretending no one notices.
I move the wand…
Hey, hey, we just heard more than one note! We are graduating!
Striking the metal tube, we get the bright bell tone and then another.
Each tone gets to ring out on its own, alone! This is very important!
We may not hear the actual key of the chime correctly. Chimes vibrate a lot of frequencies that bounce all over the place. But, whatever key we’re hearing, it’s enjoyable, it’s music!
I’d love to let loose in the above shop. Hey mister, do you have any gongs?
Again, each tone gets to ring out on its own.
This is why I love listening to jazz music. Each player takes a turn.
Then I began experimenting with recording. That’s when my ringtones for people with hearing loss project began.
Wanna hear a few? Of course you do…
A simple, bright, sound.
A much clearer rendition of Fur Elise played by this piano player from Hart School of Music.
And let’s top it off with a little crisp trio of rhythm, drums, bass and singer by my friend, “The infamous Paul Lombardo.”
Remember, we keep it simple. . . . . . Join us at HearMusicAgain.org. . . . . . Listen to 24/7 music on WHMA mix and WHRA rock internet radio stations.
Sharp, clear and ready to hear!
Subscribe to Hear Music Again today to experience this kind of music for yourself!
Nanette Florian, formerly a lead singer for the famous 60s band The New Christy Minstrels, lost her hearing completely at age 40. She now hears through a cochlear processor and is the creator of Hear Music Again, which provides internet radio for people with hearing loss.