Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

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Veerstryngh Thynner
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Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:09 am

Hello all,

Intending to research something, I came across this thread in KVR Forums:

http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic ... 4&t=489527

I never encountered this question on Linux Musicians, but I think it is a relevant and important one. I registered with KVR to join the discussion, only to discover that it had been locked just a couple of days earlier. Therefore, I'm taking the liberty of "migrating" this debate to Linux Musicians and borrowing the title of the original thread for this topic.

The OP on the original KVR debate phrased his questions as below:

- Do we need to have an excellent hearing to produce [music]?
- Or can we go into serious projects (i.e making commercial quality records) while having hearing loss?


These questions here reproduced come from a hearing-impaired musician. And if there are any other hearing-impaired musicians/music producers/ sound engineers ("amateur" or [semi-] pro) on Linux Musicians, generally, I'd particularly like to hear of THEIR experience (e.g. with music production in relation with hearing loss) and of ways and manners developed to work around their disability.

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby ufug » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:50 pm

I have not read the KVR post but for one example: Brian Wilson produced and was heavily involved in mixing most of his best work and has been deaf in one ear from childhood. Not sure what you mean with the phrase "produce music correctly", but Pet Sounds seems produced "correctly" to me.

There are also lots of recordings that are not technically perfect that are amazing records. I think those are produced correctly too. Daniel Johnston anyone? ;)

The more I'm learning about mixing/production, the more I am convinced that the majority of the work of producing a quality recording consists of: 1) having a song/piece of music that is worth recording to begin with, 2) creating a smart arrangement, and 3) an honest performance. You can have a lot of hearing loss and get those three things done. The rest of the producing/engineering work is important to be sure, but it is really just polish and adding some salt.

I don't think it's a coincidence that these three things are rarely discussed in an online music culture focused on selling plugins or mixing lessons or microphones hand-wired by pixies.

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby folderol » Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:37 pm

This has been mentioned recently on the SOS site. Most people seem to think it's not much of a problem - if you are aware of it.
Personally, being an old git, I've gos some hearing loss, some tinnitus, and a narrow 6kHz bandstop filter in my right ear :(
However, I find I get best results on speakers rather than headphones (although i do double check with them, flipping channels and summing to mono.

Either my music is so crap that everyone is too embarrassed to comment, or I'm getting it more-or-less right :)

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:06 pm

Hearing loss. Like 'less' or 'gone'?


Gone at first, but partly returning later.

Not sure what you mean with the phrase "produce music correctly"


Yes, maybe I should have been a little clearer on that particular point, in retrospective. So what I mean is that "producing music correctly" would be in correspondence with ways someone with fully intact hearing IN THE FIRST PLACE experiences musical performance: L/R balance and musical instrument audio spectrum as 'mapped out', as it were, coming across as natural and credible.

I don't know if it has ever occurred to you that deaf and hearing-impaired people STILL have to live by norms as set by the hearing world. A very simple example: what if you're physically unable to speak to whoever wants you on the phone? If I got paid for every time I was asked to call this-or-that number, in order to obtain some or other service or item, I'd be living in a millionaire's pile somewhere on the Bahamas now! In other words: the ability to make a phone call is just being taken for granted. EXCEPT, of course, by the deaf and otherwise hearing-impaired!

And so, due to reduced hearing, I can only guess how individuals with "normal" ear drums will experience my end mixes. These MAY seem close to "perfection" (after lots of tweaking), on my headset. But what would L/R Balance and Pan sound like to completely healthy ears, as coming from that same headset?

As a person with one foot in the hearing world and the other in that of the deaf and hearing-impaired, I have no way of answering that question, since I have only my own imperfect ears to judge by!

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby CrocoDuck » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:19 pm

I don't really know and I agree it would be nice to know from impaired people. There are many different kinds of hearing loss, each one altering perception in different ways. Many are so severe that totally impact the ability to clearly hear rhythm, pitch or even properly understand speech. I would be prompted to assume that in case of severe impairment it would be impossible... but there are visual artists that are blind since birth... Yes, vision is another thing entirely... but if blind people can paint, maybe heavily impaired musicians can produce.
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Veerstryngh Thynner
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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:33 pm

there are visual artists that are blind since birth... Yes, vision is another thing entirely... but if blind people can paint, maybe heavily impaired musicians can produce.


As far as blind musicians go, Stevie Wonder is probably the foremost of them all. Evelyn Glennie, in the meanwhile, may count, perhaps, as the poster girl for the deaf artist.

My own impairment is relatively "light". I have no problems recording real and virtual instruments, with a quality headset on. But mixing tracks into a stereo whole DOES bring some insecurities directly emanating from my disability.

I wonder if there are any hearing-impaired musicians on LM caring to shine their light on this particular aspect of multitracking.

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby ufug » Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:06 pm

Veerstryngh Thynner wrote:
And so, due to reduced hearing, I can only guess how individuals with "normal" ear drums will experience my end mixes. These MAY seem close to "perfection" (after lots of tweaking), on my headset. But what would L/R Balance and Pan sound like to completely healthy ears, as coming from that same headset?

As a person with one foot in the hearing world and the other in that of the deaf and hearing-impaired, I have no way of answering that question, since I have only my own imperfect ears to judge by!

Veerstryngh Thynner


Thanks for providing some context for your question, Veerstryngh!

42low is spot on. Your question cannot be answered theoretically--it requires you to share your mixes with people.

In the last 20 years people have come to make recordings in isolation to a degree that didn't used to happen. It presents a unique challenge, because just like no two rooms or listening devices sound the same, no two sets of ears are the same.

No matter the degree of your hearing loss, you need to reach out to other people for their opinions if you want to get your mix right. Of course, many of us here do our first mixes alone, but after that you should get feedback on your mix, hearing impaired or not.

Post your music here and elsewhere online and ask specifically for feedback on your mixes. Even better, find other musicians and/or mixers IRL to exchange comments with (I understand this is not an option for everyone, but the best thing you can do is to listen together with someone else and discuss it--it's actually very fun).

You don't need to act on every comment, because everybody has different tastes. But do *consider* all feedback, because it all has some value. Most people doing mixing or writing or other other creative endeavors are used to providing constructive feedback to others. If you are missing big things due to hearing impairment, we can tell you and you can learn to adjust.

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:49 am

42low wrote: We all are not perfect in no matter which way, and we all can use second and third and fourth opinions. Don't we?


Yes. I think you're right there. :)

I'm particularly taken by this TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie (amongst the list of links kindly provided by 42low):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU3V6zNER4g

Hugely encouraging and uplifting!

Thanks very much all for your good advice and encouragement.

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Re: Is it still possible to produce music correctly with hearing loss ?

Postby folderol » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:31 pm

Veerstryngh Thynner wrote:
42low wrote: We all are not perfect in no matter which way, and we all can use second and third and fourth opinions. Don't we?


Yes. I think you're right there. :)

I'm particularly taken by this TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie (amongst the list of links kindly provided by 42low):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU3V6zNER4g

Hugely encouraging and uplifting!

Thanks very much all for your good advice and encouragement.

Veerstryngh Thynner

I found that some time ago and immediately bookmarked it. A great inspirational talk and an incredible lady.


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