• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Classical musician sues successfully for hearing damage

Cosmik

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
3,075
Likes
1,980
Location
UK
#1
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43571144

A viola player who suffered a life-changing hearing injury at a rehearsal of Wagner's Die Walkure in 2012 has won a landmark High Court judgment against the Royal Opera House (ROH).

The case won by Chris Goldscheider has huge implications for the industry and the health and safety of musicians.
This could, presumably, change how classical music sounds forever. Musicians will need to wear hearing protection. Some pieces may no longer be played. Schools will have to abandon their orchestras and concentrate on their recorder and acoustic guitar-based repertoires.
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,868
Likes
2,721
Location
UK
#2
I don't remember the last rock gig I went to where all the band were not wearing IEMs, seems like classical will need to adopt the same systems.
 

NorthSky

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
4,999
Likes
573
Location
Canada West Coast/Vancouver Island/Victoria area
#3
When orchestras record motion picture soundtracks, the musicians can wear headphones. That seems to be safe to me as playing in the middle of an orchestra can get quite loud, and musicians playing in orchestras that's what they do a lot in their professions.

So for concerts, classical, or heavy metal, the musicians should wear protective hearing devices if they want to hear the birds singing later on.

And when you are in the audience, and the music is constantly blasting 100-120+ decibels, there too it would be safer wearing headphones or other hearing protective devices. What is music if it is not to enjoy life with emotional and physical health.

I went to a rock concert last year, I came back totally demolished. Sure it was fun, but expensive...on aspirin. Next time I go to one of them loud music concerts I'll wear the best hearing protective devices...with remote adjustable decibel level.
 

oivavoi

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
1,436
Likes
1,040
Location
Oslo, Norway
#4
I don't remember the last rock gig I went to where all the band were not wearing IEMs, seems like classical will need to adopt the same systems.
A couple of days ago my choir performed the St. Luke's Passion by James Macmillan here in Norway, together with a small orchestra. As far as I could tell, only two or three of the musicians wore hearing protection. But I noticed that a couple of the violinists, who sat very close to the horn section, put a finger in their ears during some particularly intensive movements when the horns were playing and the violins didn't. I could see that they weren't comfortable sitting 50 cm from a bunch of horns.

Anyway: I think wearing hearing protectoin should become the norm among classical musicians. I know several classical musicians who suffer from permanent tinnitus or hearing damage. Also, modern hearing protection can be tailored to the individual ear canal, and dampens all frequencies equally. And good musicians are able to adapt their playing to things like that. So I don't think it will have an adverse effect on musical quality.
 

Blumlein 88

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
8,949
Likes
11,565
#5
Some of the new hearing protection targeted for musicians is quite good. It isn't absolutely as even as an open ear, but good enough.

Young violinist I know started using them once I suggested it. Said it actually made it easier to hear their own instrument. Could hear everyone else enough it wasn't a problem to keep playing properly. And with everyone else dampened down was easier to hear your own instrument in some detail.
 
Last edited:

DonH56

Technical Expert
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
4,176
Likes
6,359
Location
Monument, CO
#6
IMO, IEMs would not work for an orchestra. You need to be able to hear the players near you as well as overall orchestra for tuning, plus dynamics, style, articulations etc. that all need to be tightly coupled. Plus they would be wicked expensive for an entire orchestra, and mic'ing could be a nightmare.

They do make musician-oriented earplugs that offer flatter response. The oboes and clarinets wore them a time or two on loud brassy pieces (they sat in front of trumpets in the orchestra I played in) but did not wear them for the entire concert. We also try to arrange seating and risers to help get them out of direct line of fire, and some groups I have played in use baffles in front of the brass.

It's a gnarly problem, and a slippery slope... Should I sue my ex-employers for the 16 kHz notch from all those years of TV repair? Or bands for gradual hearing loss accumulated over years of playing?
 

mitchco

Senior Member
Joined
May 24, 2016
Messages
431
Likes
1,319
#7
I recently went to see one of my favorite modern bands at a wonderful venue in Vancouver, the Commodore Ballroom. Even some 50 to 75ft away from the stage, I measured this on my iPhone:
IMG_2562.PNG


Sure, I know uncalibrated and I could check how accurate it is compared to my calibrated SLM's at home, but at this SPL, who cares. Did I have earplugs in, absolutely. Was it astonishing loud, absolutely! How long can the ear be exposed to this level unprotected: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/PermissibleExposureTime.htm Less than 4 minutes! Ouch!
 
OP
Cosmik

Cosmik

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
3,075
Likes
1,980
Location
UK
Thread Starter #9

Fitzcaraldo215

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 4, 2016
Messages
1,432
Likes
557
#10
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43571144



This could, presumably, change how classical music sounds forever. Musicians will need to wear hearing protection. Some pieces may no longer be played. Schools will have to abandon their orchestras and concentrate on their recorder and acoustic guitar-based repertoires.
It was the musician's own damn fault for agreeing to play Wagner. Should stick with Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, etc. Should sue the mad composer's estate, not the ROH.

But, actually and personally, in my view, there is no greater composer than Richard Wagner.
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
9,296
Likes
7,311
Location
Riverview FL
#12
Beethoven went deaf.
 

Dialectic

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
1,354
Likes
1,467
Location
Westchester County, NY, USA
#14
I have a 4 kHz notch in the sensitivity of my left hear because of my career as a French hornist. Consequently, I realize that hearing loss is a serious problem for classical musicians. This court decision, however, is misguided because of the absence of effective solutions to this problem.

The clear plastic shields that one sees in American concert halls do not work well, change the acoustic properties of concert halls, and are generally hated by musicians. They are not the answer.

Musicians' earplugs and IEMs may work for string players. They will not work for brass and woodwind players because, when the eardrums are plugged, the vibrating air column moving through the brass or wind player's mouth becomes extremely loud, drowning out other sounds and making good ensemble playing impossible. (I speak from experience with pricey custom musicians' earplugs.)

In the United States, liability for causing musicians' hearing loss could be circumvented with a waiver signed by each musician or a suitable provision in musicians' employment agreements. I don't know whether this contractual approach would work in the UK, and I haven't read the court decision. But if a waiver will work, it's probably the best option for now.
 
Last edited:

dallasjustice

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
1,270
Likes
796
Location
Dallas, Texas
#15
When orchestras record motion picture soundtracks, the musicians can wear headphones. That seems to be safe to me as playing in the middle of an orchestra can get quite loud, and musicians playing in orchestras that's what they do a lot in their professions.

So for concerts, classical, or heavy metal, the musicians should wear protective hearing devices if they want to hear the birds singing later on.

And when you are in the audience, and the music is constantly blasting 100-120+ decibels, there too it would be safer wearing headphones or other hearing protective devices. What is music if it is not to enjoy life with emotional and physical health.

I went to a rock concert last year, I came back totally demolished. Sure it was fun, but expensive...on aspirin. Next time I go to one of them loud music concerts I'll wear the best hearing protective devices...with remote adjustable decibel level.
Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs, ER20 ETY-Plugs, Standard Fit Blue Tip, 1 pair https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0044DEESS?ref=yo_pop_ma_swf
 

NorthSky

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
4,999
Likes
573
Location
Canada West Coast/Vancouver Island/Victoria area
#19
"It is not known for certain why Beethoven became deaf. Various theories have been put forward, such as syphilis and typhus. It is most likely, however, that the tinnitus he experienced, which gradually degenerated into severe deafness over time, was due to gradual inadvertent lead poisoning."
 
Top Bottom