I was listening to this cover of FZ's Inca Roads by Rachel Flowers - she's done an amazing job, and she's got FZ's eclectic solo style sounding really authentic (from about 2 mins). soundcloud.com/rachelflowers-1/inca-roads
Anyhoo, nothing scientific, but interested to hear views on what makes some blind players great? Statistically, are blind musicians likely to be better than sighted musos, or the same? Does loss of one sense heighten others? Can being blind actually work as a marketing tool?? (I'm not that desperate BTW). Cheers TT
Interesting question. I've had the opportunity to work with a number of blind musicians and I've given the subject a bit of thought... Jose Feliciano, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Snooks Eaglin, Henry Butler and Ray Charles To name the most notable... One thing certain, To a man, they all had better vision than those of us with use of eyes. As far as heightened senses to compensate, Henry told me that being blind from birth he didnt know what people meant by "blind", he said he was able to concentrate on sound visually and that it made beautiful vision in his Mind. I watched Roland Kirk put a stack of bills under his chin being paid after a gig and bitching about too many small bills. Snooks heard me mixing his cocktail and asked for a little extra pour as he wanted to "feel the fire." One thing every Blind person has said is that " it's nice to see you". Go figure, I guess it's all relative but given a choice, I'd rather part with vision before going deaf. For years I've said that proper listening requires looking at sound with your ears. Shite my eyes are seeing these days ain't reel pretty anyway...
Feel the fire !
Last Edit: Dec 24, 2017 11:19:21 GMT by creolian: Blind from lack of sleep...
Post by Michael Messer on Dec 24, 2017 12:11:38 GMT
It is an interesting question.
Some of my favourite musicians fall into this category; Willie McTell, Willie Johnson and Stevie Wonder, to name three. All three and many other sight-impaired musicians, in my opinion, are/were musical geniuses. I do attribute that to lack of sight enhancing their audio senses.
I believe that with training one can enhance and heighten certain senses. I am convinced that musicians' ears are more sensitive and finely tuned than people that don't use their ears in the same way. It is not just the ears, it is also to do with brain training and tuning. I have recently had some problems with one of my ears and had two tests; a regular audio examination and a pure tone audiogram. The pure tone test showed that my audio senses are above average and that my ears are also more sensitive than average, meaning that loud noise and certain frequencies can be painful. This apparently is due to the shape of ones outer ear and ear canal, and the way that ones tympanic membrane (ear drum) vibrates when sound waves hit it. My ears have been tuning themselves to fine listening for my whole life. Much like musical instruments, there are good and bad tympanic membranes. I am sure that if a similar test was done with a visual artist's eyes, that the results would be similar.
Can being sight-impaired work as a marketing tool? - Anything other than 'the norm' can be used as a marketing tool. The 'larger than life' factor can be a very useful in this respect. Show business is a mean, cruel and fickle business, so anything that makes a performer stand out from the crowd can be used as a marketing tool.
In the old days with no welfare state (and still in some countries), the only way for poor sight-impaired and physically-impaired people to survive was to beg on the streets, and what better way to do that than be a performer.
Willie McTell had extraordinary audio skills; he used to walk around making clicking sounds with his mouth, he used this like sonar to hear the sound bouncing off hard surfaces. McTell also carried a gun and was know to use it if he thought he was in danger. As a child McTell went to a school for the sight-impaired and as well as studying music, he learnt to read braille.
I've often wondered which sense to go for in such a hypothetical choice. Fact is, Beethoven created some wonderful music whilst totally deaf, so lack of hearing did not hold him back. I think I'd sacrifice hearing first, but I'll readily concede that it's a difficult one. For myself, I would retain a degree of independence that would be denied if I found myself unable to see. That's more valuable to me.
Wait a minute- my "ham" radio licence would become worthless too... Hmmm.