ain't baroque! :||
Don't Fix It

Listening with your skin

DUDE. Check out this article from Fast Company. Right now! Go on, I’ll wait.

Okay, in case you cheated, here’s the gist:

Most of us assume deaf people can’t register sound, let alone enjoy Rachmaninoff. Wrong. A conceptual device from German designer Frederik Podzuweit taps into the deaf’s ability to feel music.

Music for Deaf People is a collar that converts auditory input into vibrations, triggering the same sound-processing brain regions in those with full hearing. So instead of listening through your ears, you effectively listen through your skin. The collar has a special membrane substance, which responds to electricity, dispatching the vibrations of whatever you’re playing – be it Sinatra or Sepultura – to your neck, shoulders, and collarbone.

Everyone has that iconic image of Beethoven with his four legless pianos, plumb on the floor so that he could sit in front of them and feel the vibrations as he played. What do you think that collar would have done for him? Tripled his output? I mean, it’s not like he could have possibly improved, but composing might have been easier. Then again, given that so much of Beethoven is fueled by the sturm und drang of his setbacks, would his music have been the same?

Does this even really count as listening to music? Or is it too far removed? Which is not to say that it wouldn’t be a perfectly legitimate way for a deaf person to enjoy music, but it could require its own designation. Composers might even go so far as to create music designed specifically for electrical vibrations, spawning a brand new genre: felt music. Thoughts?

Also, my mother never enjoys Rachmaninoff, and she can hear just fine. ZING!

About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.


11 thoughts on “Listening with your skin

  1. Jenn –

    I’ve been out of the loop for awhile here, but I’m glad to know that somewhere, somehow, you’re still taking shots at Rachmaninoff.

    Peace out,

    Dr. Carney

    Posted by Dr. Carney | September 22, 2010, 11:11 am
  2. I myself have a profound hearing loss, due to scarlet fever when I was a teenager. Nonetheless, I am an accomplished musician. I, having been able to “hear” musical like those who have their hearing in tact and also by “feeling” each note as it dances across the air…I assureyou, that it I am “hearing” the music when I am “feeling” it as much if not MORE, than when I was able to HEAR it like you and others. I whish you could hear it and feel it the way I do.. You should hear what you are missing…


    Posted by Christine Petrolati | September 23, 2010, 11:24 am
  3. Sorry it took so long to get back to you; funny thing how real ife can get inna way of the fun stuff… πŸ˜‰ I would do ANYTHING to be able to “hear” the music like I once could!!! With that not an option; YES, I WOULD try the collar in a heartbeat!! You don’t lose your [assio for the music just because you have lost your ability to hear it…I can so relate to the movie August Rush; I am able to fell the music all around me; I need not be in a concert hall!! Hmmm…Favorites of mine I “feel” more than others…I would have to say Liszt and Beethoven; but the all time high I get is with Bach! It is like each nerve ending comes alive with each and every note…

    Posted by Christine Petrolati | October 11, 2010, 12:39 pm
  4. [assio <~~~ What's up with THAT?!! Was supposed to say "passion"! Yep, typo queen still holds her crown! πŸ˜›

    Posted by Christine Petrolati | October 11, 2010, 12:41 pm
  5. Haaaaaaaa Ummmm…..Errrrrr……Uhhhhhhh Yeah, that’s it exactly!

    Posted by Christine Petrolati | October 11, 2010, 2:21 pm


  1. Pingback: Composer Cagematch!: Rachmaninoff vs. Tchaikovsky « If it ain't Baroque… - May 24, 2011

  2. Pingback: A Concert Roundup Roundup My Mom Won’t Like « If it ain't Baroque… - January 16, 2013

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