Evelyn Glennie talks about music and deafness
December 19, 2008 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Evelyn Glennie speaks at TED. Don't know her? Visit her site.
posted by aisforal (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
That's fantastic. Very interesting.
posted by notsnot at 3:34 PM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

She is amazing, and I agree with the points that she is making. But after watching the first 10 minutes, I think she could make the points better if she would avoid playing pieces much faster when she is illustrating the "musician" way to play as opposed to the "technician" way. There are much more profound differences between the two approaches, but they are nearly overshadowed by the fact that she speeds them up a ton when she demonstrates the "musician" way to play.

Her point about the fact that we hear sound when we see sights - even if there is not actually a sound - is a very important one in this age of computer-based recording. As useful as the visual layout of programs like Pro Tools is, it is crucial to close your eyes so that you cannot see on the screen what's coming next or what you should be hearing at any given moment. It sounds different when you're not watching the screen.

Also, though I am a guitarist and a guitar fanatic, I must admit that the marimba is one of the coolest instruments ever.
posted by The World Famous at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2008

She'd hit it.

just kidding. Fantastic post, aisforal -- thanks for sharing!
posted by JohnFredra at 4:23 PM on December 19, 2008

Oh, it's the woman from Sesame Street! She's great.
posted by DU at 5:02 PM on December 19, 2008

That was great. I remember her most one of the more charismatic experts who turn up on regularly on Young Musician of the Year.

This essay on her web site covers and expands on some of the stuff mentioned in her talk.
You will notice that more and more the answers are heading towards areas of philosophy. Who can say that when two normally hearing people hear a sound they hear the same sound?
I remember thinking this as a kid (but about colours) and freaking out a bit...

Clearly she can 'hear' or how would she get her Scottish accent?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:13 PM on December 19, 2008

Clearly she can 'hear' or how would she get her Scottish accent?

She does not have an accent of any kind. You're hearing things.
posted by The World Famous at 5:18 PM on December 19, 2008

She went deaf at 12, so she, like most kids, had established her accent before that age. A Scottish commenter on one of her YouTube videos says that she can hear that Glennie is deaf. As a Canadian, I don't hear anything like the North American deaf accent, so the difference might be quite subtle. Any Scots here care to comment?

She is also profoundly deaf, not totally deaf, and has even worked out a method for using a standard phone. From that same essay on her web site:
It is worth pointing out at this stage that I am not totally deaf, I am profoundly deaf. Profound deafness covers a wide range of symptoms, although it is commonly taken to mean that the quality of the sound heard is not sufficient to be able to understand the spoken word from sound alone. With no other sound interfering, I can usually hear someone speaking although I cannot understand them without the additional input of lip-reading. In my case the amount of volume is reduced compared with normal hearing but more importantly the quality of the sound is very poor. For instance when a phone rings I hear a kind of crackle. However, it is a distinctive type of crackle that I associate with a phone so I know when the phone rings. This is basically the same as how normally hearing people detect a phone, the phone has a distinctive type of ring which we associate with a phone. I can in fact communicate over the phone. I do most of the talking whilst the other person can say a few words by striking the transmitter with a pen, I hear this as clicks. I have a code that depends on the number of strikes or the rhythm that I can use to communicate a handful of words.
posted by maudlin at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2008

Fascinating video, and she's a remarkable artist, but her train of thought was kind of all over the place. I found myself wanting very badly to try to do what she was asking me to do, but not really knowing how to go about it.
posted by penduluum at 7:06 PM on December 19, 2008

Fantastic indeed. I was glued the whole time. How true and applicable in so many other aspects in life. Wonderful.
Don't fight it, feel it - Primal Scream.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2008

She does not have an accent of any kind. You're hearing things.

She has a Scottish accent.
posted by matthewr at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2008

I found myself wanting very badly to try to do what she was asking me to do, but not really knowing how to go about it.

Good place to start; looks like she brought you right to it. Not bad for a half-hour talk.
posted by dpcoffin at 1:36 PM on December 20, 2008

This is the most insanely attractive woman on the planet. She's got some wheezing zoom-zooms on that brain of hers. It's even somehow hot that she's deaf.
posted by cmoj at 6:21 PM on December 20, 2008

Upon consideration, I may have underestimated her. I found myself in my car this afternoon listening to Pink Floyd through my thighs and my chest and the palms of my hands. I could actually isolate different instruments based on where on my body they were resonating. And I have a really shitty stereo in my car. I think I will be fascinated with this for a long, long time. Thanks for the post, aisforal.
posted by penduluum at 7:51 PM on December 20, 2008

By all means, check out this documentary on her. One of the best things I've ever seen; was buzzing hard for days afterwards…
posted by dpcoffin at 6:14 PM on December 26, 2008

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