Did you know that listening to mp3 music can mess with your brain, and your voice?
I love my digital music. But I make sure I listen to CDs and high definition recordings, too.
Why? Because I know from personal experience that we can train our brains to stop paying attention to certain frequencies, and that’s BAD news – for our brains and our voices.
In last week’s article, I talked about how we don’t hear our own voices accurately. This is another piece of that important discussion.
When I had to stop performing as a singer, part of the reason was because I actually could not hear my own voice accurately in the heart of the soprano range. When I sang, I heard my voice as matching pitch with the piano, or another singer – but I wasn’t. Here’s the freaky part: I could hear that I was flat if I heard a recording of myself – just not while I was singing.
I found out how to fix that when I read about the work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis in a singing magazine. I had to re-train my brain’s ability to perceive all the frequencies in my own voice.
I had an audiogram at the beginning of my listening retraining program that showed a dip in my hearing at 2,000 hz in both ears.
After my listening program, that dip was gone. So was my inability to hear when I was singing flat. (I still had to retrain all the bad muscle habits that made me flat, but that’s another story. I couldn’t have fixed those without restoring my brain’s ability to hear my own voice accurately again.)
So, what’s the problem with mp3 format music? It doesn’t contain all the frequencies of the original music. It’s a condensed format – designed to make the digital files smaller so you can fit more of them on your device, and they download faster.
It’s done by removing frequencies – some from the top, and often some from the bottom, too. The higher frequencies that are removed are “overtones” – a natural sequence of frequencies above the note that we consciously hear.
When most people listen to mp3 music, they don’t notice the overtones are gone.
But your brain misses them. Highly trained musicians hear the difference. But even untrained ears prefer a high definition recording to an mp3. It sounds richer, fuller; has more depth.
Our brains are great learners! it’s called “brain plasticity.” Mp3 music trains your brain to pay attention to a narrower range of frequencies than it is capable of perceiving. And those are the frequencies that your voice will reproduce, too. The Tomatis Effect states, “The voice can only reproduce what the ear can hear.” In other words, your voice only contains the frequencies your brain is paying attention to.
I somehow trained my brain to block the 2,000 Hz frequency, and it made me sing flat. Then I retrained my brain to pay attention to it again by listening to specially filtered and engineered music.
I’m seriously concerned about the potential negative effects of mp3 brain training. Those higher frequencies in the overtones that exist in live music are important to your brain health (higher frequencies are stimulating and energizing for the brain), to your connection to Spirit, and to your ability to speak in your whole, rich, authentic voice – the voice of your soul.
So, listen to full-format music as often as you can. Think of it as nutrition for your brain and your voice. Listen to live music. Play music. CDs contain more frequencies than mp3, but still not as much as live music. Try some of the music download services that offer full-format or high-definition music.
And no, I’m not talking about going to live music events where the sound is toxic – too loud, too much bass… That kind of music damages your hearing. Then, your brain can’t perceive higher frequencies because your ears can’t hear them.
Don’t let the mp3 habit shut down your voice. When you restore the higher frequencies in your voice, your voice will become fuller, richer, and much more compelling to listen to. You’ll be able to speak in the true voice of your soul.