This article was originally posted on inspirational news site Ever Widening Circles.
Have you ever looked up the lyrics to a song? When you read them alone, they’re flat, stagnant, and lacking the feeling the piece is meant to elicit. But add tone, expression, and a few instrumentals to the equation and you’ve got a piece overflowing with emotion and character, lifting those words into a new meaning.
So, if only those lyrics are being interpreted for the deaf community, to what extent are they being included in the art form?
Here’s one of the people bridging this gap between the auditory world and the visual by expressing the emotional power of music through a special variation of American Sign Language (ASL) created specifically for music.
Here’s how TEDMED describes what she does,
“Sign language music interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego demonstrates the emotional connection between lyrics and sounds with the flow of her hands. Responding to a desire from the Deaf community to see, experience and connect emotionally to music in the same way hearing people do, Amber developed an immersive style that brings music to life in a way not often seen in music interpreting.” 1
So, how does it work? Here’s Vox with the story. Just a warning for sensitive ears, there are a few f-bombs dropped midway through.
The multitude of ways we’re able to communicate and share experiences with one another is one of the aspects of humanity that truly sets us apart from the rest of the animal world. Music is one of our oldest and most expressive forms of communication. It’s a part of who we are, so why should the ability to feel the emotions it conjures be limited to a specific group of us?
“That’s the whole reason we go to music events–is to be a part of this experience and forget about the rest of the world, and be there in that moment. And so many times deaf people are not allowed that experience because we as hearing people choose to say no.” — Amber Galloway Gallego 3
To see one example of how she truly expresses the music, take a look at Amber’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s song, Beat It, from her YouTube channel.
You can learn even more about how Amber Galloway Gallego found herself with this knack for music interpretation and what drives her to keep going in this wonderful feature from the Houston Chronicle. Be sure to explore the rest of her YouTube channel for more amazing interpretations and, as always, stay open to new possibilities!