A hearing-loss lawsuit raises questions about orchestras’ duty of care

MAKING music is a hazardous business—ask any violist. Quarters are close and a brass section full-bore mid-Wagner can easily go decibel to decibel with a wall of Marshall amplifiers. No wonder then, that one in four classical musicians experience permanent hearing loss.

The noise problem isn’t new. Many of today’s orchestral instruments were designed to be heard over a distance outdoors, whether trumpets (military), horns (the hunt) or oboes (rowdy shepherds). They needed several decades of finishing school before being deemed well-mannered enough to join the band indoors in the 18th century. By the end of the 19th century, bores and bells were larger, the players were better and valves meant brass could play the full rainbow of keys and colours.

What’s different in the 21st century is what is done about it. Major orchestras supply all players with custom-fitted earplugs, make various types of acoustic shields available for players seated in front of particularly piercing instruments, arrange annual hearing tests…

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Source:: The Economits – Culture


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