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Thread: Your Mind's Ear

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    Iron Maiden Fidelia's Avatar
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    Default Your Mind's Ear

    I can't really decide which subforum this belongs on. Mostly I'd like to just get a lot of people's input because it's an interesting phenomenon to me, which I am trying to gather some raw data about.

    One of my friends in university told me that she was unable to see anything in her mind's eye, whether a still photo, or a moving kind of picture. She especially found that to be the case in thinking of people that she knew. I've found with a couple of my adult students who can articulate it, they can not hear anything in their mind's ear, or audiate sounds. For example, many people could think of a dog barking and hazily at least recreate all different kinds of barking sounds in their minds that they've heard in the past. But in once case, one person I talked to said they could imagine themselves saying woof, but not actually be able to recreate a barking sound in their mind.

    Audiating seems to me to often be a precursor to being able to recreate sounds, whether words in a language, or pitches/rhythms, and it is very important when it comes to singing or playing a stringed instrument especially where some judgement is involved in accurately making each note. There are people who have nailed down the process of teaching people to audiate, and I know people who are tone deaf, who can definitely be taught to sing on key.

    I believe there are a variety of factors which influence our ability to audiate: attachment, exposure at earlier developmental stages, intentional exposure and conscious attention at later ages, visualizing what is happening or somehow using another sense to aid in the process, facility with how to manipulate the voice or instrument. I expect that there is an optimal window for exposure, but that there's room for improving after that window. I also think that people are probably innately born with varying abilities in these areas: like a photographic memory or perfect pitch to being able to picture something and draw it or hear something and recreate it with your voice, to having no visual memory or being tone deaf.

    I'm curious if audiation is an absolutely necessary step that everyone needs to progress through developmentally to get to a point where they can be successful with a language or with music, or if there are people that find a different workaround to allow them to accomplish what other people accomplish, but in a different way.

    I'm interested in knowing how you experience sound yourself, and in any experiences you have that would shed light on this subject.

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    Evermore Coriolis's Avatar
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    I don't know how directly this relates to your question, but it may be of interest. First, I can definitely imagine sounds in my mind, whether dogs/cats, sirens, rain, or a specific piece of music or person's voice. I am also a musician, playing piano and later organ, occasionally a couple other things. I started formal piano lessons at age 7, but even before that, I used to pick out tunes on an old piano we had in our basement. It was this interest/ability that led my parents to send me for lessons. I remember singing as a small child, before starting lessons, and that I could tell somehow I was getting off key in the song. If the song had multiple verses, for instance, I could tell I was not starting the second verse on the same pitch as I had started the first. Sometimes the song would creep outside my range to sing, but I really didn't know what to do about this.

    Once I started piano lessons, though, and learned to read music and began more regular and systematic practice, my internal sense of pitch improved quite a bit. I think the visual reference helped, too, being able to see a song written out - the range, the final notes relative to the first notes, etc. I have never had perfect pitch, but I developed very good relative pitch, meaning I stopped wandering out of key when singing unaccompanied, and can easily hold my own in, say, a quartet or small ensemble where I am the only one singing my part. Perhaps this speaks to your notion of audiation being trainable.

    For what it's worth, I have always been very good at learning foreign languages, including speaking and listening. I may speak with an accent, but can reproduce the sounds with reasonable fidelity and am readily understood by native speakers. I have been thinking about this more lately as I have been conversing with a friend who likewise sings and is very good at languages. Both activities would seem to rely on the same underlying ability to hear a sound, reproduce it, and recognize when it has been reproduced correctly.
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    I can definitely hear all manner of sounds in my head. I have an entire library of sounds, voices, and music I can call upon at my leisure. I’ve even composed music in my head. Too bad I’m completely talentless when it comes to writing music or playing instruments. The same thing occurs with images. I have entire tapestries of artwork conceptualized in my mind (I often search to see if someone with talent has created something similar but of course it is never going to be the exact image you have built) but again I lack the physical skill to allow the art to manifest itself on paper or canvas. The mind of a musician and artist trapped in an inadequate vessel.

    It is odd that we (at least I) go about thinking everyone’s mindscapes operate in a similar fashion to our own until subjects like this are discussed. You should make more threads, Fidelia. The subjects you wish to explore are always thought provoking. It’s always a nice diversion from the standard fare.
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    Iron Maiden Fidelia's Avatar
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    I was talking to a friend who does elementary music classes and band. He said that the kids that struggled with singing were helped by solfege (probably helps orient where they are in the scale?) even when they only did it as a supplemental exercise now and then. He also said that once they started a wind instrument, many that had strugged before found things clicked into place with their singing voices.

    I definitely think there's a connection between learning/reproducing languages and music. I am also reasonably adept with languages, understanding accents, and had early exposure to music. I think that my mom singing alto probably also developed a sense of being able to harmonize at a young age. I don't have perfect pitch. I am developing the ability gradually though to sight sing, hear music I see, and name pitches, but it takes conscious work.

    One of my friends said that she used to be able to tell if she was off, but not be sure whether she was flat or sharp till she got a guitar tuner that showed the sound waves in a visual wave. Once she could picture that, she found that it was quite easy to determine whether she was sharp or flat.

    One of my other friends would have had little exposure to music as a kid and also had a speech impediment and and an auditory processing disorder. She says that she can hear when other people are on or off pitch quite easily. When she sings or plays, everything sounds good to her, although if she listens to a recording of herself, she can tell when she is off.

    Two of my adult students really had no sense when we started of feeling the beat, or of feeling pitch. One of them can sing on pitch, though not confidently. The other one is able to sometimes sing on pitch, but would have no way to tell if he was on or off. Interestingly, he started out like that with tin whistle, but now can tell that he's out of rhythm or playing the wrong note. He was helped by playing familiar Christmas songs (familiarity with a tune seems to make a difference, which reinforces to me that audiation is involved) and then getting immediate feedback. He also is bothered now when he plays out of tune on the violin, even though his rhythm is a bit more hit and miss. Both of my adult students do better when they are not overwhelmed by their head being busy attending to too many new things. However, they still require conscious thought or they slip into poor pitch or rhythm. Practice is definitely a component though. Both show tremendous improvement when they are putting in time regularly. I also think neither of them are very trusting that if they follow a prescribed process of targeted practice, it will yield better results.
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    Iron Maiden Fidelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Population: 1 View Post
    I can definitely hear all manner of sounds in my head. I have an entire library of sounds, voices, and music I can call upon at my leisure. I’ve even composed music in my head. Too bad I’m completely talentless when it comes to writing music or playing instruments. The same thing occurs with images. I have entire tapestries of artwork conceptualized in my mind (I often search to see if someone with talent has created something similar but of course it is never going to be the exact image you have built) but again I lack the physical skill to allow the art to manifest itself on paper or canvas. The mind of a musician and artist trapped in an inadequate vessel.

    It is odd that we (at least I) go about thinking everyone’s mindscapes operate in a similar fashion to our own until subjects like this are discussed. You should make more threads, Fidelia. The subjects you wish to explore are always thought provoking. It’s always a nice diversion from the standard fare.
    Thanks, Pop! I think what I enjoy most about teaching is that I'm furnished with a whole living laboratory of people of different ages and abilities to experiment and hypothesize together with. It keeps even mundane things interesting. But of course, most children cannot articulate most of this, and many adults don't reflect on it, or wouldn't necessarily think to articulate it out loud unless asked. Like you, I can picture a lot of art in my head, but not manifest it in a way that even close to replicates it, which is frustrating. In the case of both art and music, I believe that if a person is given a basic skillset, they can probably get closer to reproducing what they have in their minds with some practice, but there are a lot of stars that need to align for that to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fidelia View Post
    Thanks, Pop! I think what I enjoy most about teaching is that I'm furnished with a whole living laboratory of people of different ages and abilities to experiment and hypothesize together with. It keeps even mundane things interesting. But of course, most children cannot articulate most of this, and many adults don't reflect on it, or wouldn't necessarily think to articulate it out loud unless asked. Like you, I can picture a lot of art in my head, but not manifest it in a way that even close to replicates it, which is frustrating. In the case of both art and music, I believe that if a person is given a basic skillset, they can probably get closer to reproducing what they have in their minds with some practice, but there are a lot of stars that need to align for that to happen.
    It’s fascinating that unlike computers, which the human brain is often compared to, not all minds are designed exactly the same with exactly the same processing power, motherboards, or programming. It leads to a wide variety of potential and creativity.

    Perhaps someday technology will allow us to transfer our inner visions and music to a computer to share with the world. So many works of art and unheard music sit locked away in our grey matter.
    ”The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses.”
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    撰文 Dareyth's Avatar
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    My mind's ear is better than my mind's eye, which is weird because I have issues with language processing. But I heard music is in a different part of the brain from language processing, but with some overlap. I have a far easier time remembering stuff if it is sung, than said too. I've always been interested in learning music too, but never had the chance.
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    Iron Maiden Fidelia's Avatar
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    I found it really fascinating to see how much music and poetry speed up ability to read for kids with dyslexia or who are very painstaking readers.

    If you feel comfortable, can you tell me what your language processing issues manifest like? I really find understanding the variations of that enlightening as far as what workarounds those people have found, or what areas they are adept at and struggle in.

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    撰文 Dareyth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fidelia View Post
    I found it really fascinating to see how much music and poetry speed up ability to read for kids with dyslexia or who are very painstaking readers.

    If you feel comfortable, can you tell me what your language processing issues manifest like? I really find understanding the variations of that enlightening as far as what workarounds those people have found, or what areas they are adept at and struggle in.
    I actually think I explained it to you before. The best way to describe it, is as if my words get bottlenecked in my mind somewhere and everything gets jumbled or even backwards. Feeling strong emotions while I am talking makes it worse.
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    Senior Member Earl Grey's Avatar
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    I can recall and replay any sound I've heard before. *plays the dial up tune in my brain*

    I used to go to a music school, and apparently my recall was better than my peers'. I would memorize songs faster, and retain them longer. There were things that hinted to me that I'm a bit of an odd one out in terms of auditory memory, but I have no idea where the baseline is, but here are examples I can recall:


    EDIT: You know what, I just asked a friend of mine who is also musically oriented because I truly believe that it's BS that people don't remember songs (and that my teachers were just being encouraging). Imagine me asking you what happened on a Christmas 2 years ago, surely you'll remember? Auditory memory is just a part of memory?

    Well apparently my auditory memory is wackishly good. It feels weird knowing that this isn't the standard experience of the general populace.
    Last edited by Earl Grey; 09-03-2020 at 08:11 AM.
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