Beethoven’s Freedom from Audible Sound
Recently, I came across a fascinating article about Beethoven’s most productive years. You guessed it, when he was deaf! The author approached the story with an entirely different take on his disability. Instead of painting the tragic image of a musically crippled genius, he described a Beethoven who wasn’t bound by audible Sound. Wolfgang launched into his inner world where perfect musical theory combined with emotion broke through the limitations of his physical ears. His compositions took a turn; they became daring and bold, uninhibited by structure and tradition.
My ears have always been my strongest allies. I resonate with audible stimulation. Give me a book, and I’ll nod off to sleep. Read to me, and I’ll never forget it. When I was small, I spent hours on the floor listening to classical LPs on the Victrola. I heard the music with my ears and through the vibrations rising up from the wooden floorboards. At night, I listened to the curtains waving in the breeze, the wind whistling through the cracks, the dog changing positions in his bed, the snow creaking on the branches outside my window, and my parents mumbling in the next room.
Silence in Sound Therapy
Silence was my enemy. It was terrifying. It left me lifeless. However, as a Sound Therapist, I have learned to respect and even venerate Silence, the Sister of Sound. The more I work with Sound frequencies, the more I can appreciate the vacuum that invites Sound to rush in. We musicians and Sound Workers know how to make noise. How impressive is it to bang on the gong, clang the tuning forks with gusto, and pound on drums? Passion has its moment. However, learning to balance Sound with Silence is an art that comes with time. The most potent Sound experiences offer long spaces between the tones; rich, pregnant silences where breathing and insight fill in the gaps.
Imagination and Sound
When I was a kid, I would walk around with my eyes covered just to see how it was to be blind. It was tremendously stimulating, and perhaps a bit scary. Without our eyesight, we call on the imagination to visualize our surrounding, and common sense to protect us from banging into walls or falling off of steps. I have never tried covering my ears. I think I will. Stepping into Beethoven’s world means tapping into a musical reservoir stored away from years of listening, playing and in his case, composing. He resorted to the “Inner Ear,” the notes and scores he channeled through his mind’s eye that were connected to his heart.
A Divine Dance; Silence with Sound
I believe it’s just as important to understand Silence as it is to make Sound. It’s all part of the divine balance.
SOUND AND SILENCE Silence was waiting for Sound to appear, the two couldn’t be apart, Sound said to Silence, “I’m always here, together we form one heart. You live in the light, in the darkness and storm and dance among the notes of the horn. You fill in the spaces between the words, And guard the feelings and thoughts unheard.” “And you, My Friend,” said Silence to Sound, “Make the rain into thunder and heartbeats, pound. You gave humans a voice and the power of choice To make music or noise, with guns or toys. We are Sound and Silence, Siamese twins, heads and tails, Yang and Yin.”