For the majority of the world’s population listening to and enjoying music is a very basic and simple process. Whether it’s over the radio, on our phones, at a gig or even a busker performing in the street. There is however a large misunderstanding that the deaf do not and cannot enjoy music. This is just not true! Yes, the process in which deaf people enjoy music is different, but they can still appreciate and often love great music.
When we talk about people being deaf, you must understand there is such a vast spectrum to the levels of deafness. From complete deafness to partial hearing or hearing loss.
To get to grips with how someone hard of hearing can enjoy music, you must appreciate how sound works. When we hear something, it’s because a sound has been created. Sound travels in a vibration wave cutting through the air and then into our ears. If it is a low vibration and travelling slowly then we may not hear it. We use the measurement of Hertz when talking about sound waves and determining the sound frequency.
Deaf people unfortunately lack one of their five senses. This means that their other four senses work together to compensate. Often with loss of hearing or partial deafness, it is harder for a person to recognise high pitches and soft sound. So here is where the Sensory Cortex comes into play. This part of the brain deals with touch and feeds this back to the brain. So when music can be experienced through touch and vibrations of sound, it is easily enjoyed by the deaf. A great example is when you have good quality speakers and the bass and music is playing nice and loud, you can feel the music through your entire being.
Other areas of the brain also pay a huge role in enjoying music. The Nucleus Accumbens, Amygdala, and Cerebellum collaborate to form an individual’s emotional attachment and felling towards music. In addition, the Auditory Cortex is important in listening to sounds when you are deaf and the insight and breakdown of the sounds that the body senses.