Aural Diversity Concerts

The first Aural Diversity Concert will take place on July 6th 2019 at The Old Barn, Kelston Roundhill, Bath, UK.

Future concerts are also planned. Use the links to the right for more information.

An Aural Diversity concert is a unique event, for several reasons:

  • Both the musicians and the audience are aurally diverse (because everybody hears differently). This means there are many different ways to listen and many different types of hearing.
  • Audiences, musicians, technicians and Aural Diversity concert organisers follow a set of rules or conventions which are detailed below.
  • There is no one type of music that represents Aural Diversity, but all music will be fully described in a written programme so as to enable audiences to choose how best to listen to each work.
  • Anybody may stage or perform an Aural Diversity concert, provided they follow the conventions below. Please contact Andrew Hugill in the first instance if you are intending to stage an event.

    Ways of Listening

    Given the special nature of an Aural Diversity concert, it is expected that audiences will sometimes listen in ways which are different from normal. They may use an array of devices, or choose to move to different spaces or even step outside during the music.

    With the help of new technologies, the creative potential of these ways is becoming available to artists and audiences. Sound may be delivered through various media e.g. hearing aids or cochlear implants, streaming to headphones or conveyed to the body by other means such as bone conduction. There may be haptic devices such as vibrating surfaces, video evocations, descriptive texting, signing or conceptual transfer.

    The Aural Diversity project seeks to explore different ways of listening that suit different hearing profiles. So, for example, a profoundly deaf person may prefer a haptic and visual approach, whereas a listener with hyperacusis might want to ensure that all sounds fall within a tolerable audible range. The conventions of the project seek to establish best practice for such listening, while still leaving room for experimentation.

    Conventions

    At an Aural Diversity concert, there are a set of conventions which always apply. These include a lack of extraneous noise and movement, plenty of time between pieces to allow for changes in listening mode, no applause (appreciation may be expressed by waving hands in the air), and a general respect for the hearing needs of others.

    Aural Diversity concert programmes will include full details of what may be expected in each piece: loudness levels, extremity of contrasts, instrumentation, duration, musical style, general character of the music, and ideal listening suggestions. Audience members may choose the best approach for themselves and adopt a listening mode accordingly, piece by piece.

    Here the rules:

    • The concert space will be laid out in a salon feel, with some room also for standing
    • The concert will be “relaxed”, with ample time between each performance to allow people to change location and prepare for the next piece
    • Lighting will be dim and there will be an absolute minimum of spoken conversation and ambient noise in the performance spaces
    • Audience members may choose to leave the room quietly at any time during a performance, possibly to continue to experience the music in another way
    • The concert programme will provide precise details of what audiences can expect during a given piece, including such information as: duration, sound intensity, loudness, contrasts, sound types, general character, etc.
    • There will be no applause, but audiences may express their appreciation using the BSL convention of hand waving
    • Signed commentary, surtitles and video evocations will be provided both before and during the music as appropriate
    • The auditorium will include a main communal chamber but also break-out spaces, and outdoor spaces as available, where the music may be experienced in user-controlled ways
    • Audiences may change their ways of listening from piece to piece, following the recommendations in the programme.

    People may listen:

    • In the same space as the musicians without any mediation
    • In a break-out space or outside, but without any mediation
    • Through streaming to hearing aids or via a loop system
    • Through streaming to bluetooth headphones with user control of levels
    • Via haptic (touch) devices, either located in the main auditorium or breakout spaces
    • On a specially made vibrating floor
    • Via bespoke listening devices, e.g. trumpets
    • By watching descriptive and evocative video and/or signing
    • Conceptually i.e. without cochlear input but using imagination

    The programme will be laid out like a menu in restaurant, giving information about each piece in order for listeners to decide how they would like to listen. The information could cover:

    • Title
    • Composer(s)
    • Performer(s)
    • Notes
    • Character of the music
    • Genre
    • Instrumentation
    • Duration
    • Pace
    • General loudness levels
    • Contrasts and intensities
    • Recommended ways of listening