Re: Musicians' use of hearing protectors (Andy Vermiglio )

Subject: Re: Musicians'  use of hearing protectors
From:    Andy Vermiglio  <avermiglio(at)HEI.ORG>
Date:    Wed, 11 Sep 2002 15:50:57 -0700

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. Best, Andy Vermiglio -----Original Message----- From: AUDITORY Research in Auditory Perception [mailto:AUDITORY(at)LISTS.MCGILL.CA] On Behalf Of Ole Juhl Pedersen Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 11:58 PM To: AUDITORY(at)LISTS.MCGILL.CA Subject: Musicians' use of hearing protectors For possible inclusion in the list: Subject: 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 juhlp(at)

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