Jump to content
Mander Organs
Colin Pykett

Hearing aids and the organist

Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

Having looked back through the posts above, some points seem to have been made several times and it might be worth summarising them:

1. Since hearing aids are mainly optimised for speech they may not work as well, or as expected, for organ music.  Several posters have remarked on the peculiar 'celeste', 'warbling' or 'fairground' sound imposed on organ music (as well as other sorts).

2. Better results for organ sounds might be obtained if your audiologist provides you with a separate, user-selectable, setting or 'program' for music.  This can be done on the cheapest aids and those offered by the NHS as well as the more expensive ones, but it seems that you might have to ask explicitly for it to be done rather than assume it comes as standard.

3. In some (most?) hearing aids the music program seems to turn off some or all of the clever automatic processing used for speech, in particular the 'whistle block' facility to prevent acoustic feedback.

4. The above means that when you switch to 'music' mode, your aids might start whistling (mine do).  This can be stopped by turning down the volume, though it means that the amount of compensation the aids can then offer is more limited than in 'speech' mode.

But all this must depend on the type of hearing defect you have.  The list above applies to me, and no doubt my type of hearing loss has unconsciously coloured what I've just written (I have moderate bilateral presbycusis - age related hearing loss in both ears with a moderate and similar amount of hearing still remaining).  Therefore none of it is written in tablets of stone and you would be best advised to take the advice of your hearing professional.  Having made this necessary disclaimer, I nevertheless think it's fair to say that we have jointly made useful progress here.  I've never seen anything like this before, and should therefore like to thank all those who have contributed so positively by sharing their knowledge and experiences.

Colin, if you are experiencing whistling, it suggests to me that your domes or moulds - the type depending on whether or not it is a "receiver in canal" aid - do not fit perfectly.  If that fitting is improved, you may get better results under all circumstances. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, john carter said:

John, in the "normal" program, your hearing aid, like mine, probably switches between different settings automatically, depending on what it thinks you want to hear.  That is fine for most of the time.  The change I have made is to have the option of fixing it in the "speech in loud noise" mode, which makes it easier to concentrate on the conversation you want. 

Thanks.  I hadn't though of that.  I'll ask if it could be fixed in that setting or, perhaps, switchable into fixed mode.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 20/10/2019 at 08:42, Colin Pykett said:

Over 10 years ago I put together an article about age-related hearing loss (the most common type which eventually affects many if not all of us) and its relation to the sounds of the organ.  It's at http://www.pykett.org.uk/arhlandob.htm if you are interested.  It includes mp3 clips of how organs might sound to people having varying degrees of ARHL and these have since been used quite widely as demo pieces in educational, musical and audio circles.

Having now had the opportunity to read your article thoroughly, I'd like to thank you for this highly interesting and educational article.

One of the things that occurred to me is to question how organ builders/voicers should create their instruments.  Assuming that, whatever the level of their hearing, they have the means to (perhaps electronically?) accurately determine and quantify the frequency content of the various pipes they create, should they voice the pipes/organs to suit a young audience or an old audience?

Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)

In all seriousness, I believe it is not possible to voice an organ to suit perfectly the hearing of both typical young and typical old listeners.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 21/10/2019 at 11:46, Steve Goodwin said:

Thank YOU, Colin, for starting this thread. It's made me realise that there might be something that can be done!

Steve

Thanks Steve.  I hope you can resolve your problems.

On 21/10/2019 at 14:13, john carter said:

Colin, if you are experiencing whistling, it suggests to me that your domes or moulds - the type depending on whether or not it is a "receiver in canal" aid - do not fit perfectly.  If that fitting is improved, you may get better results under all circumstances. 

That's possible John, though I think they are of the 'open' type which let ambient sound through.  Must check this though - good point.

1 hour ago, John Robinson said:

Having now had the opportunity to read your article thoroughly, I'd like to thank you for this highly interesting and educational article.

One of the things that occurred to me is to question how organ builders/voicers should create their instruments.  Assuming that, whatever the level of their hearing, they have the means to (perhaps electronically?) accurately determine and quantify the frequency content of the various pipes they create, should they voice the pipes/organs to suit a young audience or an old audience?

Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)

In all seriousness, I believe it is not possible to voice an organ to suit perfectly the hearing of both typical young and typical old listeners.

Thanks for the kind remarks John.  Since becoming a member of the hearing aid generation I've come across instruments which were distinctly different to what I had been accustomed to previously.  In one of them the treble (penultimate) octave of the great 15th was excessively prominent whereas this was not so without the aids.  My first thought was that the frequency response of the aids produced a peak in that region when combined with that of my ears.  However when I checked the top octave of the 4 foot principal, which sounds at the same pitch of course, there was no problem.  So I assumed the artefact was probably genuine and related to the organ itself rather than the aids.  It would be instructive to take a young person with some musical experience along to see what their excellent ears tell them about experiences like this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Picking up on John Robinson's  (‎20‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 08:42) point: "Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)"

I wonder whether the customary glance down the nave once a service has started, to decide how hard to thump the hymns, should include a rough age scan as well as just quantity to give consideration of using brighter choruses for play throughs. Also giving the incumbent (+20 yr older than me) 8+4, or an 8 with strong partials, for a chanting note might be fairer than a box muffled 8, or even to ask the chap's opinion on a few options.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

Picking up on John Robinson's  (‎20‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 08:42) point: "Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)"

I wonder whether the customary glance down the nave once a service has started, to decide how hard to thump the hymns, should include a rough age scan as well as just quantity to give consideration of using brighter choruses for play throughs. Also giving the incumbent (+20 yr older than me) 8+4, or an 8 with strong partials, for a chanting note might be fairer than a box muffled 8, or even to ask the chap's opinion on a few options.

😄  Yes!

On the other hand, I was wondering whether organ builders consider how brightly they voice their instruments bearing in mind the potential audience - predominantly young or aged.

For example, most churches - perhaps brighter upper work to enable older people to hear it; university colleges - hold back on the strong upper work so as not to deafen the younger ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, John Robinson said:

😄  Yes!

On the other hand, I was wondering whether organ builders consider how brightly they voice their instruments bearing in mind the potential audience - predominantly young or aged.

For example, most churches - perhaps brighter upper work to enable older people to hear it; university colleges - hold back on the strong upper work so as not to deafen the younger ones.

... and it's also going to depend on the age of the voicer. We all suffer from age-related hearing degradation even if we don't need a hearing aid so the same pipe is likely to sound different to a 40 year old or a 60 year old organ builder.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On John's point "university colleges - hold back on the strong upper work so as not to deafen the younger ones"...

I think that this has to be balanced against the musical maturity and restraint of the player. Personally, I was way too loud and quickly up the choruses to screaming mixture (and also sometimes trying to emulate some of the recorded Hurford mutation registrations, eg 8 + larigot with not much in between) in my late teens in university days, and I hear that as fairly common in younger players when out of earshot of teacher!

My similar aged student audience, if interested at all, was similarly keen on loud and sonic thrill too.

An idealistic, through ridiculous, extrapolation of this dialogue is that the expected audience, organ consultant, voicer and player all need to be similar ages!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Steve Goodwin said:

... and it's also going to depend on the age of the voicer. We all suffer from age-related hearing degradation even if we don't need a hearing aid so the same pipe is likely to sound different to a 40 year old or a 60 year old organ builder.

Yes, of course.  In my earlier post I suggested that they might be able to us technology to determine the exact strength of all the frequencies present in each note.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

An idealistic, through ridiculous, extrapolation of this dialogue is that the expected audience, organ consultant, voicer and player all need to be similar ages!

Even more ridiculous, give each member of the audience one of those 'clicker' things they seem to use on game shows, whereby each audience member can select 'brighter' or 'duller', and go with the majority vote!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...