Publish at November 10 2021 Updated November 19 2021

The treasure of musical texture for deaf children [Thesis].

To reinforce the perception of sound through the body


Experience placing your hand at the top of your chest, between your heart and your throat.

Say a sentence slowly without trying to listen to it (if you have that listening ability), but feeling its vibrational geography.

Observe its spreading background layers, its rocky peaks, its intersecting waves, draw the whole landscape of your sentence.

Choose a sentence that tastes of happiness and savor...

In fact, according to the Swiss musician and "rhythmicist" Émile Jaques-Dalcroze:

"You don't just listen to music [sound] with your ears, you hear it resonate in your whole body, in your brain and in your heart. "

There is a strong bodily resonance with the musical content and gestures of the other. The deaf composer and percussionist Evelyn Glennie states "to hear more with her body than with her ears".

Deaf children and musical texture

In her thesis, Sandrine Perraudeau (Ruch) questioned human auditory organization in its articulation with the perception of musical texture.

The challenge is, for deaf children, to promote the establishment and optimal development of language skills, temporal organization, and to facilitate social interactions in the absence of a sound bath in which the child determines structuring regularities by himself.

"Musicality [perceived by deaf children]is spontaneously translated into movement because it is the inner, instinctive product imagined by their quite singular visuospatial awareness."

In music, the characterization of texture dates back to the Renaissance, when it was called "color." It was during the mid-twentieth century that the term texture took shape, associated with the expansion of the instrumentarium - that is, the set of instruments - (winds and percussion) and the new techniques of electroacoustic music (sound masses, frames and spatialization).

"For some, texture is likened to a "visual"world that would be the meeting between "feeling and movement"."

In contrast to hearing children, contemporary music stimulates the imagination of deaf children. One said:

"I imagine being by a lake where everything is peaceful, smooth."

Extracting auditory streams from the "mixture "

From a psychoacoustic perspective, acoustic waves arrive together as a single sound signal called "mixture".

The auditory system determines what belongs to what (gangster rap in the middle of the night belongs to my neighbors): perceptual cues separate the mixture into auditory streams.

The mechanisms operating are simultaneous segregation (dealing with simultaneous sound events), sequential segregation (dealing with non-overlapping events in time, on a local temporal scale) and segmental segregation (similarly, on a larger temporal scale).

Musical perception and cognition is very early, "at birth[the child]has[...] already a musical experience". Melodies heard in the fetal period (after the 5th month) are recognized after birth, even without re-listening."Singing helps babies regulate their emotional state", it stabilizes heart rate and oxygen saturations.

Texture as woven matter

In the visual and visual arts, as in nature in geology, approaching texture can bring us to the edge of (or into) an experience synesthetic: we can feel musical forms in the photos of the grain of magmatic rocks, the oriented (or "disoriented") minerals of metamorphic rocks that illustrate a chapter of the thesis.

From the point of view of musical creation, the rise of contemporary music has been that of texture as "combination of musical lines".

György Ligeti envisages it ("Textur" in German) thus as a weaving:

"[...]I always think in voices, in layers, and I construct my sound spaces as textures, like the threads of a spider's web, the web being the totality and the thread the basic element. [...] If you ask me: why the canon?" I will answer: for the horizontal/vertical unity."

The distribution of sound

To "spin" the textile metaphor with the weft thread (horizontal) and the warp thread (vertical), the musical texture is distributed vertically and horizontally. The vertical dimension corresponds to simultaneous segregation, the horizontal dimension to sequential and segmental dimensions:

Vertical dimension:

Opacity vs transparency
Wide vs narrow
Tonal center of gravityLight vs heavy
BrightnessClear vs dark
Sensory dissonance
Ruggy vs silky

Horizontal dimension:
StriationPulsed vs smooth
EvennessFluid vs jerky
Fast vs slow
StabilityScary vs static
Time densityAerated vs compact

Research results

Two sets of experiments were constructed based on these texture qualities.

In the first, deaf implanted children showed much greater abilities to perceive texture than normal-hearing children. Their results were comparable to those of adult musicians also surveyed.

For the second set of experiments, while deaf children were able to identify musical emotional content of serenity and sadness well, they did so less readily for that of cheerfulness or anger, unlike normal-hearing children.

"The perception of texture in [deaf children]suggests that the use of whole-body movement provides them with sufficiently relevant information to better appropriate it."

Listening engages the external auditory system, internal auditory system, central nervous system, but also the whole body! Musical texture is particularly well understood by deaf implanted children. This understanding, supported by the development of pedagogical methods that engage rhythm, space, movement, consolidates temporal and language learning.

Illustration: StockSnap from Pixabay.

To read:

Sandrine Perraudeau (Ruch). Texture in music: its contribution to composition, music learning and its effects on musical perception and cognition of deaf implanted children. musicology. University of Burgundy Franche-Comté. 2019.

Thesis available at:

Videos by Evelyn Glennie:

Feel the sound:

How to listen:

Improvision percussion:


A Rita Mitsouko song in LSF, French sign language:

See more articles by this author




Access exclusive services for free

Subscribe and receive newsletters on:

  • The lessons
  • The learning resources
  • The file of the week
  • The events
  • The technologies

In addition, index your favorite resources in your own folders and find your history of consultation.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Add to my playlists

Create a playlist

Receive our news by email

Every day, stay informed about digital learning in all its forms. Great ideas and resources. Take advantage, it's free!