This is through the ears of a cochlear implant user but was close to the same when I was profoundly deaf and wearing hearing aids.
Picture this: We’re driving in the car. I SEE my husband turn on the radio. That gives me an alert to TRY and listen! Actually, through the processor I hear the “spoken” word quite well, so if he would only find a talk show I’d be fine. But he wants to listen to music. If he chooses a NEW song (meaning one written after 1990) I’m up a creek. There’s NO way I’ll ever hear it. I’ll KNOW there is a song playing. I’ll hear the rhythm, and the phrasing, but won’t distinguish between the sound of the instruments or the melody they’re playing. IT IS A LOT OF NOISE and wish he’d TURN IT OFF! (I haven’t the slightest idea what Maddona sounds like)
BUT, it’s Oldies! Ok, here’s my chance to recognize something and possibly enjoy. Wow, I know that introduction. I hear the rhythm just FINE. Cool, I know that bass line! It’s a well-known bass line like from HEARD IT IN THE GRAPEVINE or Paul McCartney starting up; da da da da da da da da ”I heard it’s your birthday” da da da da da da da da ”It’s my birthday to you”. What luck!
So, I’ve heard the da da da da da da da da on the bass. Ok, I hear it great. But, oh, now the Beatles are starting to sing. IN MY MIND I KNEW EXACTLY THE KEY THEY SHOULD START SINGING IN BECAUSE i HEARD THE BASS GREAT! But, as they start singing, they’re in the WRONG key. They’re really FLAT! (sorry Paul) As hard as I try to mentally raise the pitch; sometimes I can, it wants desperately to drop down again.
So, I’m kind of halfway enjoying this great tune. My foot can tap; I could easily dance to it. I would never sing along if another human is in the car with me because I would sound like a cow mooing or something (I guess). But, in actuality the song sounds like: SOMEONE THREW THE RADIO UNDER WATER! That is a really good analogy. Sometimes people ask me, what music sounds like to me and I answer; ”it’s just more noise to contend with” or “it sounds like someone threw the radio under water.”
So now you know. Would YOU like to listen to under-water music? Probably, under-water music would have bad rhythm too, but I can hear the rhythm nicely.
Why can’t I hear the NEW songs? How can I sort of hear the OLD ones? As soon as I hear that bass line, or SOME other clue, my MEMORIES take over, so that along with the clues I GUESS I’M IMAGINING THE SONG!
Check me out at http://www.NanetteFlorian.com I just put up another song I wrote. A Country song called “You’d help me by loving me” produced by Paul Lombardo, Tom Russo, Bill Holloman and sung by Wendy Drown.