Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is it possible for a deaf person to imagine a song?

  1. Sep 25, 2006 #1
    What I am trying to get is that if a person is born deaf, can he come up w/ songs? I know if he reads them, then he can see that they have to have a pattern and in that sense, he can come up w/ them but can he come up w/ songs that he can feel?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2006 #2
    Visit a home for the deaf and ask them, or, perhaps someone that is deaf and a member of PF will provide feedback.
  4. Sep 26, 2006 #3
    If a person is completely deaf from birth, then no. They wouldn't have the means to form any good idea of what it is like to percieve sound with the ears at all, much less grasp the special case of music.
  5. Sep 26, 2006 #4
    Can we "imagine" sounds that are 30khz in frequency, or imagine what it's like to actually SEE colors out of our normal spectrum? No, we can't - but those are things that some animals CAN perceive, and they are really there.
  6. Sep 26, 2006 #5
    Interesting question! When I read something I often "hear" myself speaking the words in my head, can/does a deaf person do the same?
  7. Sep 26, 2006 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Deaf people can feel the vibrations and the rythm of music by putting their hands on a speaker.
  8. Sep 26, 2006 #7
    I would not be too sure about that.
    A deaf person can still feel vibrations, probably much better than those who can hear.
    While the range is more limited, the principle of a song in the audio spectrum is not essentially different than a song in the spectrum that we can feel. Sure he would not be able to imagine sound as we hear it, but he could certainly imagine higher vibrations.
  9. Sep 26, 2006 #8
    I read an article recently, don't remember where, but there's no evidence that loss of one sense heightens the others. Blind people don't hear better and deaf people can't feel vibrations better than those who can hear. There is some evidence that someone who is born deaf and blind has a heightened sense of taste, but that is debateable because I totally made that up. The first sentence is true though.
  10. Sep 26, 2006 #9
    Whatever tingling tactile experience a person has from music it is nothing like hearing it with the ears. I can feel vibrations and there is no way I could ever mentally get from that to an accurate model of the experience of hearing. A faster vibration would still be imagined in terms of the sence of touch. The person has no frame of reference whatever about what it's like to sense air vibrations with the dedicated sense of hearing we have.
  11. Sep 26, 2006 #10
    If the person is deaf from birth, and by "imagine a song" you mean that they can imagine the sound, then no, they can't. However they could imagine the vibrations that they feel from the music.

    An interesting question, lets say in some alternate universe all humans on that earth are deaf, or they don't have ears or something. What would they make of sound waves? (lets say they don't have mouths either xD).
  12. Sep 26, 2006 #11
    Well, what do you make of vibrational waves when you feel them? You probably think something is shaking nearby, not making lovely sound. (something like heavy machinery)
  13. Sep 26, 2006 #12
    It depends, vibrators, tibetan meditation bowls, gamelan sounds, monastery gongs, taiko drums, reggae music etc, all of those are in part about the vibrations. :smile:
  14. Sep 26, 2006 #13
    of course deaf people can imagine a song and music. It is ridiculous to think they can't. They probably won't be right, but they can still imagine.
  15. Sep 26, 2006 #14
    I think it was tacit in this discussion that it had to be correct.
  16. Sep 26, 2006 #15
    How would they imagine something they can't sense. You cant.
  17. Sep 26, 2006 #16
    I was interpreting the OP to be asking if they could arrive at an experience as emotionally moving to them as music is to us.

    I just don't think so. You have to be able to hear the details and nuances: the specific qualities of the instruments and voices, and the layers of harmony. Vibrations on the skin aren't close.
  18. Sep 26, 2006 #17
    A speaker for the deaf:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4377428.stm" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  19. Sep 26, 2006 #18
    What if they're playing in a concert and they stuff up, or go a bit off tune or off tempo >.>; those vibrato things better be good.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  20. Sep 26, 2006 #19
    extra dimensions, imaginary numbers, zoobyshoe's sense of humor, dark matter. I do it all the time.
  21. Sep 27, 2006 #20
    What cyrus is saying is that you can't properly emulate the sense of hearing without ever having it.

    You can't imagine exactly what the 4th spatial dimension would look like, because you've never seen it.

    Zooby's humour is kind of like matter traveling the speed of light, though... It's pointless to try to imagine it. :tounge2:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook