Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heighten Five Senses: Hearing

I'm continuing the series on developing the five senses, based on "The How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Workbook" by Michael Gelb. Try this sense of hearing self-assessment:
-- Friends describe me as a good listener.
-- I am sensitive to noise.
-- I can tell when someone is singing off-key.
-- I can sing on-key.
-- I listen to jazz or classical music regularly.
-- I can distinguish the melody from the bassline in a piece of music.
-- I know what all the controls on my stereo system are for and can hear the difference when I adjust them.
-- I enjoy silence.
-- I am attuned to subtle changes in a speaker's voice tone, volume and inflection.

However, I personally wouldn't agree that you have to proficient in all of the above to be considered attuned to the sense of hearing. I can't sing, but I consider myself a good dancer. I took dance lessons, not music lessons, as a child for seven years, and subsequent Irish and Brazilian dance classes as an adult, not to mention flat-out dance induction on the disco floor back when.

I cringe at Kathy Smith exercise videos. She's got a white woman's disease something fierce. I can out-and-out say I am appalled at the lack of rhythm of many of the step, power and kick-boxing teachers at my health club today -- even the Latino ones! One teacher, though an excellent instructor, says, "I just watch the lady," meaning me, to translate her instructions through the beat of the music -- or more particularly, when to wait for the music cue in order to begin.

I think being aware of rhythm is essential to my poetry as well as song lyric writing, though you wouldn't want to hear me personally sing any of the songs I've written. I've never been good with the bass or treble controls on either my car or home stereo (is this really a guy thing?), but am acutely aware when a spoken word performer, whether reciting poetry, prose or drama, is just missing the emotional points and high and low subtleties of the piece. This is particularly sad when he or she is the actual author.

Stretch your hearing awareness. If you do like to listen to jazz and/or classical music, you might want to play a game of "guess the composer" with your friends and family that we enjoy at my house. ◦

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