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Re: Musicians' use of hearing protectors
We know that perception affects speech production, so it is safe to assume
that perception must affect musical performance. Hearing protection devices
will alter what the user hears (unless they are vented inappropriately).
Anecdotally, professional drummers that I have fit with the molded ER-15 and
ER-25 "musician's" (flat attenuation) earplugs have reported that they can
actually hear more clearly when wearing the plugs in loud performance
situations. I've noticed the same effect where the high-frequency
information in a high sound level environment is easier to hear with the
plugs than without the plugs. This is probably related to a decrease in the
upward spread of excitation. Additionally, a professional saxophone player
that I've fit with these same plugs has reported that he enjoys performing
with the earplugs more than performing without them. He claims that he can
actually hear pitches better with the plugs.
Standard foam earplugs typically attenuate the high frequencies more that
the low frequencies. This situation may be disastrous for a musician where
clarity is crucial. When the high frequencies are attenuated enough, the
"attacks" of the individual notes (especially for percussion) are obscured.
This can lead to temporal smearing, a poor performance and possibly the loss
of a gig.
From: AUDITORY Research in Auditory Perception
[mailto:AUDITORY@LISTS.MCGILL.CA] On Behalf Of Ole Juhl Pedersen
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 11:58 PM
Subject: Musicians' use of hearing protectors
For possible inclusion in the list:
Can Musicians practice with hearing protectors?
European governments are considering rules for
musicians' mandatory use of hearing protectors during
training, rehearsals and concerts - much in line
with regulations for industrial workers.
However, very little seems to be known of a crucial problem:
How will the use of specially designed protectors affect the
quality of performance for players of various instruments; e.g.
strings, brass, woodwind, percussion? Singers, conductors?
Any information, suggestions and comments on this and related
problems will be welcomed by
Ole Juhl Pedersen
Associate prof. emeritus.
Technical University of Denmark