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Our Love-Hate Relationship with Loud Music - Ithaca Audio - Music Composition and Sound Design Navigation ABOUTWORKLIVEAWARDSCLIENTSNEWSCONTACTABOUTWORKLIVEAWARDSCLIENTSNEWSCONTACTOur Love-Hate Relationship with Loud MusicThe recent earplug campaign has once again reminded us all about the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud music (and loud noise for that matter). December 3, 2013 – The Health Department launched a new ad campaign today warning people that listening to headphones at high volume can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and irreversible hearing loss. Loud sounds, including media played at high volume, can injure the delicate hair-like cells of the inner ear that convert sound waves into the sounds we hear. Never listen at maximum volume and do not turn the volume up to drown out external noise. Know the early signs of hearing loss and ask a doctor for a hearing test if you have trouble hearing conversation, need to turn up the volumes on TV, radio or personal music players or experience ringing in the ear.
The campaign is funded in part by FJC: A Foundation for Philanthropic Funds and the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Microseconds after the music begins, your outer ear catches sound waves and funnels them through your auditory canal to your eardrum, a thin, cone-shaped membrane. The barrage of chemicals from overloaded hair cells zaps neighboring nerve fibers, which means that some normally functioning hair cells have nowhere to send their signal.
Loud music is everywhere; it can be found in bars and nightclubs, at sporting events, cinemas, theatres, music concerts and in cars and the headphones of many living out their day-to-day lives.
The ads encourage people to protect their hearing by turning down the volume when using headphones.
The injured cells cannot be repaired, and once enough of them are damaged, hearing problems can occur. Nearly one out of four adults aged 18 to 44 who report heavy headphone use say they have hearing problems, and were more than twice as likely to report hearing problems than those who report light-to-moderate use or no use of headphones.

When these bones oscillate, they cause waves of sound-ferrying fluid to roll up your inner ear’s cochlea, a conical chamber that houses some 10,000 hair cells. That movement is turned into electricity, which triggers the release of a chemical neurotransmitter that washes over neighboring nerve fibers. It is apparent that loud music is a common worldwide occurrence that holds no relation to any particular demography or culture, despite the many risks associated with it (Blesser, Dr.
The fibers generate electrical spikes and carry the pulsing signals to your auditory cortex, where it registers as sound.
Barry) – so why do we seem to like loud music so much?The Advantages of Loud MusicIt comes as no surprise when I say that music can make us feel good (Ensha, Azadeh). It can help us to perform both physically and mentally and also provide therapy for a wide range of physical and mental illnesses (eMed Expert). In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that loud music, specifically music above 90dB, can also contribute to the release of those ‘feel good’ hormones – some of which were discussed in last week’s post ‘Chemistry and Creativity’.
There is supposedly a part of the inner ear called the Sacculus that responds to the beat in music and music’s low-frequency vibrations (Ensha, Azadeh)(Todd, Dr. Barry Blesser claims that loud music is a stimulant that can be compared to likes of caffeine, sugar and even rigorous exercise.
Blesser additionally claims that loud music is ‘simply a stronger stimulant than soft music’. From personal experiences, many of us will also willingly accept the notion that loud music can also make us  ‘functionally deaf’ to our surroundings and essentially transport us to another world; a world where music is most influential on our mind and body (Blesser, Dr. Due to this, it is no surprise that music records and concerts have got louder and louder over the years.

Record labels, advertisers and many others for a while now have taken advantage of the fact that loud music and loud sounds do an amazing job at grabbing our attention and this is supposedly one of the main reasons behind the start of the so-called loudness war (Leung, Grant).Although loud records can appear to benefit us by initially appearing to sound better, the fact of the matter is that making louder records has always been a trade-off with sound quality (Bob Katz)(Music Radar).
At a glance, this use of loud music seems hardly beneficial to us at all.We are now overloaded with excessively loud records to the point where it is more or less impossible to make records any louder.
Ironically, we now find ourselves in a ridiculous situation where even the loudest of records fail to grab a listener’s attention and have the impact that they once did. As discussed above, loud music’s ability to dominate our ‘aural space’ is a quality that many of us clearly do appreciate at the best of times, but it is also the reason why loud music can often be an intolerable distraction and nuisance (Blesser, Dr. Whilst music can improve our health and make us more relaxed, it can also just as easily damage our health and make us more stressed. Knowing this can not only improve our well-being but it can also make us better as music professionals (Music Radar).Hearing damage is perhaps one of the most significant disadvantages of loud music.
It is also important not to forget the social and psychological repercussions of hearing loss as well.
There is seemingly a fine line between the benefits of loud music and the damage it can cause (Blesser, Dr.
Music’s remarkable impact on our lives undoubtedly relies on surpassing that 90Db threshold at least every once in a while.

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