In her famous “Hearing Essay,” Grammy-award winning percussionist and composer Dame Evelyn Glennie of Scotland wrote about how she could “feel” the music she played, rather than listened. In fact, when she plays, she stands barefoot in front of her instruments in order to absorb the vibrations and the beat to their fullest.
“The low sounds I feel mainly in my legs and feet and high sounds might be particular places on my face, neck and chest,” she wrote in “Hearing Essay.” In it, she also noted that she uses sight as another method of hearing: “If I see a drum head or cymbal vibrate or even see the leaves of a tree moving in the wind then subconsciously my brain creates a corresponding sound.”
She is not the only person who is deaf or hard of hearing who uses vibration to “hear.” Even before the sophistication of hearing technology, people who were deaf and hard of hearing enjoyed listening to and playing music—through rhythm and percussive vibration. Those who had retained some hearing could still appreciate pitch and tone, while others who lost hearing later in life could still recall songs in their heads as they felt the beat on the floor or through other methods. Musicians who are deaf and hard of hearing have described feeling different vibrations and tones in different ways, allowing them to differentiate between notes. Essentially, they can hear through their skin.
Through this kind of perception of “hearing” through vibrations, AG Bell is embarking on a campaign to introduce the idea of “good vibrations,” much like what the Beach Boys were once advocating.
“Vibrations make us feel; vibrations heal us; vibrations move us; vibrations enable us to hear and talk—whether we’re deaf or not,” says AG Bell CEO Emilio Alonso-Mendoza. “Vibrations don’t discriminate—every human being experience vibrations. Vibrations can make us happy, scared, excited, angry, and safe. But how many of us realize their significance, especially to enable us to hear and talk?
“We want to invite our audiences to ‘come vibe with us’ and experience the power and beauty of vibrations to enable us to feel, hear and talk on this World Hearing Day, and every day,” he says.
Did you know? Because of cross-modal plasticity, or the sharpening of other senses to replace the missing sense, people who are deaf and hard of hearing develop more sensitivity in their skin and awareness through sight. It’s a phenomenon that wearable device developers have pounced on, creating shirts or collars outfitted with many microsensors. When worn, these products allow people who are deaf and hard of hearing to be able to enjoy a concert by feeling it through their skin, especially when their hearing technology can’t.
Those who are deaf are not the only ones who can “hear” through vibration. Science has shown that vibrations contributes greatly to the way people—hearing or not—perceive their environment. It sets the tone and mood; it determines pitch and notes; it can heal muscle and create shifts and changes in the earth. AG Bell hopes that with its “Come Vibe With Us” campaign, people in the LSL community—and even those outside it—will learn to appreciate the power of vibration in communication, and celebrate the various ways people can talk, share, and be together.
Lea en Español