第一篇How Deafness Makes It Easier to Hear 题目暂无
Most people think of Beethoven’s hearing loss as an obstacle tocomposing music. However, he produced his most powerful works in the lastdecade of his life when he was completely deaf.
This is one of the most glorious cases of the triumph of will overadversity, but his biographer, Maynard Solomon, takes a different view. Solomonargues that Beethoven’s deafness “heightened” his achievement as a composer. Inhis deaf world Beethoven could experiment, free from the sounds of the outsideworld, free to create new forms and harmonies.
Hearing loss does not seem to affect the musical ability ofmusicians who become deaf. They continue to “hear” music with as much, orgreater, accuracy than if they were actually hearing it being played.
Michael Eagar, who died in 2003, became deaf at the age of 21. Hedescribed a fascinating phenomenon that happened within three months: “myformer musical experiences began to play back to me. I couldn’t differentiatebetween what I heard and real hearing. After many years, it is still rewardingto listen to these playbacks, to ‘hear’ music which is new to me and to findmany quiet accompaniments for all of my moods. ”
How is it that the world we see, touch, hear, and smell is both “outthere” and at the same time withinus? There is no better example of this connection between external stimulus andinternal perception than the cochlear implant. No man-made device could replacethe ability to hear. However, it might be possible to use the brain’sremarkable power to make sense of the electrical signals the implant produces.
When Michael Edgar first “switched on” his cochlear implant, thesounds he heard were not at all clear. Gradually, with much hard work, he beganto identify everyday sounds. For example, “The insistent ringing of the telephonebecame clear almost at once.”
The primary purpose of the implant is to allow communication withothers. When people spoke to Eagar, he heard their voices “coming through likea long-distance telephone call on a poor connection.” But when it came to hisbeloved music, the implant was of no help. When he wanted to appreciate music,Eagar played the piano. He said, “I play the piano as I used to and hear it inmy head at the same time. The movement of my fingers and the feel of the keysgive added ‘clarity’ to hearing in my head.”
Cochlear implants allow the deaf to hear again in a way that is notperfect, but which can change their lives. Still, as Michael Eagar discovered,when it comes to musical harmonies, hearing is irrelevant. Even the mostamazing cochlear implants would have been useless to Beethoven as he composedhis Ninth Symphony at the end of his life.