Callum Fox: The Sound of Music

Posted on February 14, 2013

Music. It’s everywhere. Our lives are filled with the sweet sound of music, no matter where we go. Whether it be the latest pop sensation or the classical music of years gone by, our lives are enriched by listening to these arrangements of sound.

I must confess, I’m largely a stranger to music. For over a decade, I couldn’t get my head around the lyrics, the beats, the instruments. It was pure chaos inside my head. It was noise, pure and simple.

This affected my enjoyment of a fair few things, although it is funny when your mates try to introduce you to the latest single, looking as though they’re introducing a savage to the wonders of the modern world.

It affected how I viewed things, things many people take for granted. Socialising in particular. I never went out on the lash until I was about 17. I was introduced to the horror of bars and nightclubs as soon as I went to university. It was loud, full of annoying people and ultimately, very boring at times. I can’t even talk to my friends in the louder clubs. Inevitably, I get left out of the loop.

Nightlife rapidly became something I tolerated for the sake of my friendships. I’d rather to be in bed with a book to be honest, although I don’t know whether that’s my personality speaking or that’s how life as a deaf person has shaped me.

That’s not to say I’m unsociable. I’m friendly enough, or so other people say! I genuinely do enjoy going to the pub to watch the football and putting the world to rights. Nightlife just isn’t for me. All in all, music was something that I tolerated the existence of.

But my perception of music changed when I received a visit by an audiologist on behalf of Teesside University who came to teach me how to use the gadgets I’d gotten to aid my learning at university. One small piece of equipment soon changed my entire view of music.

So small and yet so powerful.

This wire enabled me to listen to music directly inputted into my cochlear implant and experience music in its undiluted form, free from background interference.

To say that this has changed my life would be a lie, but it has certainly opened a side of life I was unaware of. It’s given me the opportunity to teach myself to listen to different genres and experiment to find out what I like.

The audiologist kindly recommended a few songs that he thought I’d like. Safe to say he went for songs fitting for a 22-year-old man, so we steered clear of the likes of Justin Bieber! I was left with albums from the likes of Coldplay, Scouting for Girls and Jessie J.

I don’t think he realised that I’d develop a liking for Queen though.

I started out on a journey, determined to explore all the genres I could listen to, taking recommendations from people in my life, including my Dad (a dangerous thing to do, I know!).

I started to discover the patterns in what I liked. Queen was the first band I encountered where I truly liked all the songs they made. From Bohemian Rhapsody to Radio Ga Ga, I found Freddie Mercury’s voice emerging from these songs loud and clear. That appealed to me as a deaf person. I enjoyed that as opposed to songs where the lyrics and background music just blend into one indecipherable mess.

Then I listened to bands like Coldplay, Kasabian and Kaiser Chiefs. Again, the songs I liked were the ones where the lyrics were as clear as day. Ruby, Child of the Jago and The Angry Mob were particular favourites.

“I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was…”

Then I branched out a bit, listening to The Clash, The Who and Oasis as well as more contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

At this moment in time, it’s obvious to me that I really like the clear voices and lyrics.

What is interesting though, is that I have utterly no preconceptions of what music is cool and what isn’t. So I’ll say it. I like the theme songs from Pokemon. Blame it on childhood nostalgia or whatever.

Can’t help it, I genuinely do like it. That moment of apparent uncoolness over, it’ll be interesting to see what my journey into the hills bring me next.

Music is becoming something I enjoy listening to in the car, or when I have some time to myself. Just plugging into my phone and listening to a few songs is fast becoming something I appreciate.

You still won’t catch me voluntarily walking into a nightclub though.

This article was first published on Callum’s blog here:

Callum Fox is walking the divide between the hearing and deaf worlds. Profoundly deaf since birth and CI user. In his spare time he balances being 22 years old, being a football fanatic and trying to make it as a writer, journalist and human being. Follow him on Twitter as @WalkTheDivide

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