The Beauty of being able to hear sound…

To my great shame as the Programme Leader of Audio Production, up to now I have not made one single contribution to our blog! It’s not that I have nothing to say, (I contribute to other blogs and usually have too much to say!!!). No, it is simply that I enjoy reading what others are doing and what they have to say about it.

However, I was born with perforated eardrums and suffered as a child with very painful ear problems. Worse still I stammered! Indeed it is with some irony, that through one such bout of illness aged 6 & 1/4, I was introduced to the world of radio drama courtesy of my grandma’s light blue and cream Bush Radio (with a big round dial on it). I moved it backwards and forwards and thought it looked like a face. Then I found something, some BBC announcer halfway through telling what, I the listener was about to hear! I didn’t move that dial again for over an hour. Oh and as you’re asking, the play was a dramatisation of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was in that world, I was in the ‘world of the wireless’ and my imagination had been switched on. No gadgets, no fancy visuals, apps or wires, just a mono speaker emanating voices, music and sound effects. At that point, my world changed forever: a true epiphany! It became reinforced and reinvigorated as my love of music grew…pop and classical mainly! In the 1970s, like every teenager of the time, as a sort of ‘rite of passage’, I awaited the chart rundown on a Tuesday lunchtime, crowding, clutching my lunch token, and in all weathers, around a radio to hear my favourite records and finding out what position they had made it to in the chart! Getting a record player from my parents and collecting all those records, the singles, now on the shelves behind me where sit and write this piece, meant freedom. The space of my bedroom, became my listening world: the albums meant listening pleasure, they were a backdrop to history homework, and listening with friends. Listening to music made me want to be in a band – and I still do that to this day. And, of course, I moan about not getting the correct bass sound or piano sound or if my mic is not set right!

So, from what had been a source of misery for me, with constant hearing, nose and throat trouble, the simple act and enjoyment of being able to hear: to listen eventually allowed me to enter into a world of making sound for others to hear: to listen to. Later, I have encouraged others, students, my children, and friends to make sound for others to listen to! Not only did hearing and listening became a ‘taken for granted’ pleasure, it also of course become part of my career. The beauty of being to hear and listen is summed up for me in Madeleine L’Engle’s Sci-Fi novel the Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978)  ” Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind”. We take hearing and listening for granted in many ways, and why shouldn’t we? We are audio/radio/music scholars! It is part of what we are about, our make-up, and why we are in the community of audio scholars.

Today, I saw a piece in the newspaper and then on the TV about a lady called Joanne Milne. She was born profoundly deaf, and now at the age of 39, through the marvels of technology, she has the power of hearing for the very first time. When I read and saw her story I was moved to tears. I ask you to click on the link and read and watch this too! Imagine living 39 years, indeed all of your life without knowing what sound is, and then being introduced to it for the first time? Despite my dodgy start, I realise how lucky I have been to experience the world/my world of sound and music. I hope you might be moved by it too…thank you for reading my first post!

Good wishes



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About Bryan Rudd

Programme Leader BA (Hons) Audio Production & Principal Lecturer in Media Production (radio)