Loud Music and Deafness
Copyright ©2004 Howard Coleman
~ Music should be the celebration of hearing not the
destruction of it (Ron Pellegrino) ~
- When people say they are are used to loud music they are actually saying that some of the nerve cells
responsible for their hearing have died. Sadly, the cells do not regenerate. The music fans are being deafened. The
ear does have an auto-protect mechanism where the stapedius muscle contracts
and reduces the energy reaching the nerve cells. This gives rise to
temporary deafness ( Temporary Threshold Shift). The danger of this effect
is that it gives a false sense of security - "Oh, I've had this before,
it'll be better in the morning." There is substantial proof that this
is in fact a warning sign.
- Sound levels at gigs are often set by someone who has already been deafened and is incapable of judging a safe level.
Most audio engineers would not admit to having a hearing disability because
they would soon find themselves out of work.
... Don't be afraid to walk out of a loud gig if it is uncomfortable. Phone the organiser afterwards to complain.
... Wear ear protectors. You love music so don't let anyone deprive you of it.
- Hearing damage is related to the loudness of the sound and the length of exposure to it. Musicians are in a vulnerable position as they experience both. The following is a list of musicians who have experienced hearing problems, as far as I can tell, as a result of exposure to loud music.
This probably represents just the tip of an iceberg.
Jeff Beck (Yardbirds)
Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
Francis Rossi (Status Quo)
Kathy Peck (the Contractions)
Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü)
Pete Townshend (The Who)
John Lee Hooker
Joey Kramer (Aerosmith)
Lee Renaldo (Sonic Youth)
Last revised: August 29, 2004.