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novelista14's avatar

Listening to music if you're deaf?

Asked by novelista14 (17points) November 2nd, 2010

I’m writing a short story for my fiction class that involves a young woman who is deaf and a scene in which she is at a concert. She stands at the front by the speakers and can feel the vibrations. I am wondering if anyone can tell me some details I can add (about the audio equipment) to make the scene more realistic. Thanks

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18 Answers

janbb's avatar

Sent this to member filmfann who may have some information for you.

Welcome to Fluther!

JustmeAman's avatar

In the Extreme Makeover Home Edition they put big sub-woofers in the walls so that the deaf children of the school they rebuilt could feel it with the hands and their bodies. They turned the music up loud and the kids were dancing away listening to the vibration. You could look at that episode online and see what else they did.

Trillian's avatar

Watch Children of a Lesser God. There is a great scene where Marlee Matlin dances to “I’ll take you there”. Awesome, as she really is deaf.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
poisonedantidote's avatar

A lot of speakers also blow air on you as well as hitting you with vibrations.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

So, if you are born deaf or become deaf in infancy/early toddlerhood, the circuits in your brain that normally wire themselves for hearing will instead wire themselves for touch. So people who are profoundly deaf really early in life can actually feel much, much better than hearing people and can sense lots of sensations that hearing people can’t. A simple balloon held in the fingertips can transmit airborne vibrations extremely well. A chair is in development that has air jets, body vibrators and a shaking floor plate to give a total-body experience of all the different instruments and variations of sound produced by a full orchestra.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

In addition to the above answers, you might try wearing a set of ear plugs or sound mufflers like airport runway employees use and test them out for yourself. A description is going to come better from you than us.

Kayak8's avatar

When I played in a band, we always had a large Deaf following primarily because we always at an interpreter at every concert. If this is all music, you are stuck with the speaker thing, but if there are lyrics, you can easily add an interpreter.

I am also hard of hearing from childhood and I can feel the lower vibrations (the sounds for which the waves are long and slow) much better than things in the upper register (they are very hard to distinguish from the vibration of the air-conditioner or other things in the 60 cycle range and above).

filmfann's avatar

My wife is deaf. She enjoys listening to music with heavy bass lines. She LOVES listenting to chain-gang music, and Elvis.
I took her to an Elton John concert, and she didn’t care for it. The chairs vibrated with the music, and that just annoyed her. She does like dancing to old-time swing jazz. Sadly, my wife is actually a better dancer than I am.

Kayak8's avatar

@filmfann I sooooo agree with your wife!!! There is some music (like Elton John) that does make the chairs vibrate. That is why I play bass! I can feel the bass better than higher voiced instruments and, if you really can’t hear and have to go on feel, the lower end of the sound spectrum is critically important!

flutherother's avatar

Have you heard of Evelyn Glennie? She is profoundly deaf but has made a career as a percussionist. Listen to her talking about music

jerv's avatar

I’ve been to a few dances at the local school for the dea… err… “Hearing impaired” (the PC police made them change their name a few years ago) and it always involved many big speakers tuned towards the low mid-range of the normal hearing range. There was little/no treble, and the bass wasn’t as percussive as many teenager’s car stereos; still enough to shake you, but pretty subdued considering but the overall volume and the setup they had. (I know what the system could do, so it was a matter of equalizer tuning and not of capability.)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv So you’re the second person this week I’ve heard say “hearing impaired” is the PC term, and if you’re going off of the Deaf community (no, that’s not a typo), “hearing impaired” is REALLY offensive. The Deaf community wants the terms deaf or hard of hearing used.

jerv's avatar

@papayalily I agree that it’s BS, just as many black people object to “African-American”, but that is a rant for another time/place.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv Ok. I just wanted to let you know since if you’re trying to not offend a deaf person, don’t use the term. Course, if you’re trying to not offend a hearing person… Well, who cares?

MasterAir16's avatar

The word: DEAF; it has the range between from minor hearing loss to profoundly. Some deaf uses kind of hearing aids or cohlear implant to understand or hear the music. Again by different level of hearing losses, they can just feeling the floor, listen the beat, or listen whole thing but not clear by lyrics.

Trojans40's avatar

You can use a balloon in the scene, the balloon will vibarate with the beat, and the deaf person holding the balloon will not just feel it in the head, in the heart, but as well in the hands.

Nullo's avatar

Thomas Edison, who lost his hearing, would bite down on a pencil and hold the other end to the horn of a phonograph, thereby using the bones in his head to conduct the sound. I suspect that there are different types of deafness, and that his method wouldn’t work in all situations.

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