12 July 2009

Hand Jive

The last few days, I've had migraine and couldn't write at all. I was too photosensitive and dopy to face a page of words. On top of that, sound hurt and my tinnitus was out of control. Often when my tinnitus is acting up badly, listening to music makes the buzzing, clanging, whistling, and squeaking more orderly. (The noise is still there, but more organized and less rackety. I think of it as combing messy hair out straight.) This week, though, there was no taming it.

My hearing loss and tinnitus always affect my ability to hear music. It particularly hits some singers whose voices happen to be in my most damaged frequencies. It really plays hob with nice stereo mixes, because my left ear is so much worse than my right. I wish the iPod would let me adjust the balance to compensate for that. No home sound system has a "adjust to missing frequencies" switch, though.

Because my loss is in the frequencies of speech, I often have trouble understanding all the lyrics of songs. I would love to have access to captioned videos. I once heard someone going off on how ridiculous the idea of music videos with captioning is. This is based on the simplistic ideas that "deaf" is an on/off switch. Hearing impairment is often partial, and people who can't hear at all can feel rhythms. Besides, lyrics are words that you don't necessarily have to hear any music to appreciate, and videos are all about imagery. That is all a long way to say "bunkum!".

Captioning isn't the only way that people with hearing impairments can get lyrics to songs. There are also American Sign Language (ASL) and Signed English translations. YouTube is replete with examples of popular songs with signing. There are different kinds of "signed songs". The best of them, in my opinion, are those which are performances in their own right.

Live Performance, "Fergalicious" (macboy17, 2007)

Live Interpretation, "I Had a Shoggoth" (filkertom, 2008)

Ordinarily the point of live interpretation is to just tell what the speaker is saying, but this one is fun because the interpreter part of the show. The interpreter had never heard this song at all before! If you think about it, there would have to be signs for "Cylon" and "Sith Lord", wouldn't there?

Music Video, "Pump It" (st0rmfx, 2008)

Bjorn Storm takes a completely different tack and made his own videos of the songs. I wish he could do more, but YouTube's new copyright wars are keeping him on the sideline for now. My son the Black Eyed Peas fan says this is his favorite BEP video.

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