What It's Like To Be Lyric Deaf
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What It's Like To Be Lyric Deaf

The real reason why I like Instrumentals

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What It's Like To Be Lyric Deaf
Annette Kim

In a car, a song would come on the radio, and it would be the typical song that you’ve heard over a hundred times. My friend next to me would start singing along, and so would I… except I would be singing the wrong words, or making my voice sound like what I think I should hear. My singing voice would be in tune and everything would seem okay; except for the fact that discreetly, my brain is struggling to guess the sounds of the lyrics. Instead of remembering them like how my friend does, I have to pretend that I know them, and it's weird.

I've eventually realized that I am lyric deaf-- which is what I have unofficially termed to be the inability to automatically register the words sung in a song. The reason why it bothers me so much is because it's weird to realize this about yourself; especially when you're someone who prides yourself for being a creative individual, and for years I have wondered if it were related to my intelligence.

Whenever I hear music, I can’t pay attention to the content of the lyrics. What I mean by this is that I intrinsically go for the sounds rather than focusing on the syntax of the words. The notes, the intonation, the lightness of the singer’s head voice, the power of the diaphragm, and if there's a presence of chiaroscuro… Those are what I hear in a song rather than the spoken word. And though I naturally find meaning and symbolism in almost everything, lyrics never really stuck with me. I indisputably cannot remember them the same way that the majority does unless it’s well enunciated (which is why this is not the case for every sing song: i.e rap is easier for me, as the melody often is to emphasize the words). It’s even difficult for me to sit and to tell myself to pay attention to the singer, because I would feel too overwhelmed to continue. And no, it's not an intelligence thing. I am musically and academically competent, but it’s not until I’ve read the written lyrics separately from the instrumentals that I am able to comprehend its fullest beauty. I can’t understand the context of spoken words within the song because I understand music differently. To me, songs have two distinct systems to be analyzed: the first system which I've naturally preferred is the content and emotions within instrumentals, and the second system being voices. I hear singing voices as another instrument, which is why I believe it has always been indistinguishable.

I understand that audio affects people differently, so this is one of the way that it happens to affect me. I love instrumentals, soundtracks, songs with singers but no lyrics, and I also love listening to the beauty of speeches, verbal geniuses; but there’s a point to when they all become clouded and overwhelmed by additional sounds. To me, singers turn into another instrument that I can analyze. I understand that there are words present, but in my world, they're divided. Like how lightning distracts you from the sound of the rain; my sensitivity to sounds is why I’ve always preferred instrumentals. I love being able to listen to anything knowing that there is nothing else that I am expected to pay attention to. My brain isn’t lazy, just different. It's how I hear music, and that’s how my brain works.

I’m sure there’s a neurological explanation. Perhaps my temporal lobe of my brain, where auditory sensations are processed conjoint with the Wernicke's area, isn’t as dexterous in this context; or maybe it is, just different from that of the majority. Maybe it was because I grew up around so many different languages that I only partially understood, so it had translated over to music somehow.

I don’t know. But what I do know that I am able to hear sounds better than the average individual; perhaps because I register music as someone who is creating it, rather than someone receiving it. But like I said, I’m still not sure. Being unable to process words and sound simultaneously is frustrating, but I’ve come to realize that a thunderstorm is nothing if you weren't caught off by it's spontaneity; that brief disconnect when thunder hits ground, and the sound of the pouring rain is hushed.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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