Recently I had the absolute honour of playing with my covers band at the wedding of a deaf bride and groom. Well over half of the guests were also members of the deaf community. We had joked leading up to the gig that we wouldnt even need to plug in or to play well this night! I must admit, it was a very strange feeling getting up behind the mic, and none of us really knew what to expect.
It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking evenings I’ve ever had. I wished I’d learned some sign language in preparation, as trying to make up actions as you sing is harder than you would think! But the crowd appreciated my efforts immensely. The girls liked to come up on the stage to read and sign the words from our song books, and others were putting their feet and hands on the speakers to feel the vibrations. The bass amp was the most popular for this! And they danced, and really had a lot of fun. They thanked us from the bottom of their hearts when we left, possibly one of the most appreciative crowds we’ve played to.
It really made me think though. How much I love music and couldn’t live without it. It’s so much more than just the rhythmic vibration of a drum, or a pulsing bass line that surges through your body. There are the melodies, and harmonies, and chords, that all work together to create an intricate story. The uniqueness of human voices, they way that music can lift your heart and carry your soul on a journey. The joy of music that can make you weep. Music creates a mood, it produces emotion in the heart of the listener. Music is spiritual. Music is it’s own language.
One of the hardest things I find about writing music, and especially collaborating, is trying to communicate the musical concept when there are really no words to express it. Trying to describe sound, or to reproduce what’s in my mind, and bring it into being in the physical realm, is possibly not the most effective way to write! Better to begin with instrument in hand and create from there, almost letting the music write itself.
I guess for the deaf music can hold other meanings, and can be experienced and enjoyed in different ways. Perhaps more profound experiences are still to be had in other forms of expression? Who am I to think that music as i know it is the more profound experience? But it was certainly wonderful to learn that deaf people can, and do, enjoy music.