Watching Music: the importance of sign language

April 6, 2016 1:25 pm

Music is often said to be the universal language. But is that actually true? For some people, the gentle vibration of some guitar strings or the touching of two red lips means no sound at all. You might want to reconsider the concept of universal

There have been artists, however, who managed to make their (or others’) music accessible and somehow “listenable” even for deaf people.

It can take a while to realise that music is not just made of sounds. Music is rhythm, dance, colours, art. The harmonious combination of all those elements is what makes our heart vibrate. The lack of one of them, though, doesn’t necessarily make music “useless”: by enhancing all its other components, it is also possible to convey its essence to people who can’t listen to it.

As deaf musician Sean Forbes said in an interview, “There’s more to music than just hearing it, you feel it. It’s emotional”.

A particularly successful example is Ed Sheeran’s You need me, I don’t need you, featuring signing actor Matthew Morgan: the smooth combination of light effects, monochromatism, and quick movements manage to deliver not only the song’s lyrics, but also its rhythm.

Silent Partner by Tom the Lion is a delicate song performed by sign song performer Rebecca-Anne Withey. The deep look in her eyes and the beautiful photography “really draws the viewer into a visual world of sign and silence”, as Rebecca said.

The famous Australian singer Sia, in her Soon we’ll be found, boldly played with sign language, colours, and silhouetted hand shapes. In an interview, she said: “I’ve always been obsessed with the beauty of sign language. The movement and expression just appears to ignorant-hearing-me as a beautiful, emotive dance. But the real beauty is that, hidden in these perfect shapes, is communication”.

Other notable examples include Paul McCartney’s My Valentine, featuring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp (although apparently the two famous actors made some unfortunate slip-ups…), La mia vita senza te by the Italian band Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti, and McFly’s Love is on the radio, but there’s much more to discover on the web!

Written by Silvia Morani
Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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