The classical music sector has changed in response to the way Evelyn Glennie hears sound; opening the eyes and ears of others to just what music might be and just who can be a musician. Goldie, a drum ‘n bass DJ, has utilized innovative composition techniques inspired by his dyslexia that are also making waves. Jo Verrent explores…
6 September 2011
Evelyn Glennie is the first percussionist in 20th-century western society to create and sustain a full-time solo career but this is not her only impact on the classical music world; because of the unique way she hears sound concert venues are now configured and tested differently, students are selected and trained using new techniques. As her website states: “as one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians on the scene today she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion, and creating performances of such vitality that they almost constitute a new type of performance”.
Evelyn has been labeled as profoundly deaf since the age of 12, and rather than seeing this as a barrier, she feels that it has enabled her simply to learn to ‘hear’ in a different way – a way that is increasingly used by others within their work.
“Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. Sound is simply vibrating air that the ear picks up and converts to electrical signals, which are then interpreted by the brain. The sense of hearing is not the only sense that can do this, touch can do this too. … If we can all feel low frequency vibrations why can't we feel higher vibrations? It is my belief that we can… There is one other element to the equation, sight. We can also see items move and vibrate. If I see a drumhead … then subconsciously my brain creates a corresponding sound... For me, as for all of us, I am better at certain things with my hearing than others. I need to lip-read to understand speech but my awareness of the acoustics in a concert venue is excellent.”