I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Music's precious accessory

Tone Deaf will now be Tone Mute for a fortnight. But here’s a salutary story.

Nick Coleman woke up one morning with all hearing lost in one ear. For a time he was totally deaf, deprived of a sense of balance, ill and traumatised beyond belief. Over many months he taught himself to hear again, but in an imperfect way. Losing stereophony meant that all sounds were “flat” and hard to identify. What hearing he had was shockingly sensitive. Tinnitus bedevils him. Also people tend to be irritated by those with hearing impairment, rather than sympathetic.

But there was more. Coleman’s great passion is music, all kinds. He was in fact a music writer.

He describes his experiences in A Train In The Night, well reviewed in The Guardian. He also spoke movingly and factually at the Hay Festival and members of the audience revealed that they too had suffered similarly. It is a more common ailment than most would imagine.

He was good on metaphor. With perfect hearing music resembles architecture: one may “enter” the structure. With his reduced hearing the experience is reduced to an architectural drawing: a two-dimensional form of information which identifies but does not integrate the parts. As a result his interest in what TD calls posh music stops short of the nineteenth century; thick-textured orchestral pieces become a blur and Beethoven’s Ninth is lost. Bach’s separated “lines” are all he can take.

Once Coleman loved the visceral, body-vibrating experience of live reggae. Now the volume would cause him to faint. But he talks warmly of John Coltrane’s tenor sax delicately picking out Equinox and the resumption of his love affair with Marvin Gaye.

Deafness, we all say, is preferable to blindness. Coleman made me question this.


  1. Ldp Irefer to your blog in April when you asked about 'formal literacy'It is an attempt by our team to encourage the students to put the letters in the correct order; spelling.We help them to fill in forms? write letters of application,ask them to read.Sometimes it is very rewarding other times it is frustrating.Sorry I haven't answered earlier but I have been have been ticking of another from my bucket list namely visitin the temples in Cambodia.Ankor Wat. Magnificient

  2. Have you spotted the deliberate mistake?Your comment on deafness was very interesting.I had a friend who worked with profoundly deaf children the techniques the used were amazing.

  3. Very interesting. I've always dealt with my fear of blindness by telling myself, "there would still be music." But I have similar feelings to yours about the possibility of deafness - it would be a huge life-adjustment and a great loss.