18th January

Bit gutted at the moment – I got an e-mail about a stop frame animation workshop locally by an artist called Reza Ben Gajra next weekend and I put it to one side meaning to check with Sarah that it was ok to go. Last night I checked out his videos and seeeing the one above decided that not only did I want to do it it would be a great thing to take Ben to. Sadly when I called this morning the workshop was already full ūüė¶ However I fancy doing something similar so all I need to do is find the time and space to do it!!

There was an interesting guest on Midweek on Radio 4 this morning. Nick Coleman was a music critic who lived for music until he suddenly woke up one morning and found he was deaf in one ear because of Sudden Neurosensory Hearing Loss. However he found he’d lost more than his hearing as he found he was no longer able to listen to music. He said that where before music had been 3D full of depth and space¬†to¬†was now the¬†equivalent¬†of looking at an¬†architects¬†drawing rather than wandering the building itself. In fact he went further saying that he found that it could be actually painful and that due to Hyperacusia certain noises were unbearable.

He explained that although he can’t hear out of one ear it’s not silent there is what could be¬†described¬†as noise, sushing and hissing – he said he suffered from round the clock tinnitus and that over time his good ear also suffered with problems as it tried to compensate for the loss. The most¬†surprising¬†thing was that he also lost all his emotional responses to music and he has had to teach himself to be affected by music again by remembering how every piece of music that ever meant anything to him made him feel.

The thing I found most interesting was that the brain’s initial reaction to the sudden loss of hearing was to try and fill the missing spaces with other sounds and this had to be overcome with time as the brain almost had to teach itself to hear again. However it was the brain that then came to the rescue by finding the remembered responses to the music in order than he could once again feel what he felt before. His book¬†The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss is the Book of the Week on Radio 4 in a few weeks time – I shall look forward to that very much.

It goes without saying that I would be profoundly affected if this ever happened to me. I obviously have a love of music but sound has always been of the upmost fascination to me. It’s one that I have been giving much thought of late as I really need to move my ambient sound recording on. I’ve always loved recording sound, there’s a picture of me aged about 8 on the Broadway in Sunderland with a tape recorder vox popping passers by. I recall taking my brother portable tape machine on a trip to a dairy farm and rcording the ambient sounds. It was then played back in the classroom but I don’t think everybody gets it the way I do.

It always amazes me how much of the ambient sound around us that the brain shuts out or indeed just ignores altogether. I think a great example of this would be if you ask someone to think how noisy the foyer of Victoria Underground station would be in the rush hour they would assume it to be¬†bustling. That’s exactly what I would have thought until I walked through it one day with a recorder running. In reality it’s actually quite quiet and the commuters pass through with a minimum amount of sound – almost silently – the main source of the noise is the crashing of the ticket barriers.

I love to listen to the sound around me. If I sit and listen in the garden I hear the sounds of the trains pulling in and out of the station, birds singing, the cat’s bell, the rattle of the wind in the rotary clothes line, church bells ringing….. However it is equally possible to not hear those sounds at all. I was actually quite excited when I discovered that field recording exists on a widespread basis and discovering the work of people like Eric La Casa was an eye (or should I say ear!) opening experience. It seems I’m not alone in my weirdness!

In fact Book of the Week, which I can usually take or leave, seems to be right up my street at the moment. This week I’ve been enjoying the serialization of the book El Narco which looks at the drugs trade between Mexico and the USA. It’s interesting to see that this situation has been going on for years, longer than you’d imagine, and that it would appear that Governments never learn – they must have missed out on so much revenue over the years in their bid to stop the evil weed/poppy/….. Then next week the Book of the Week is A¬†Shed of One’s own – Midlife without the Crisis by Marcus Berkmann which again is spot on for me! I notice that the strap line seems to be Don’t get angry, get a Shed – so true!

Apparently my meerkat is currently in St. Petersburg!

Accidental Image

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