Music and Cochlear Implants

Music for recipients is a real tough gig to re-learn how to appreciate music after being implanted.
My main genres of music are Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues. Country, Jazz and Pipe Band music. You can work out my age from the music I listen to.

Listening to most music for me aurally (ie radio,TV) is reasonable, not really good though. And pipe band music is horrible, yuck is all I can say. But when I stream the music it becomes 90% better, and pipe band music becomes reasonable, not great but I can tolerate it.

Most of us CI recipients on the board have really good comprehension of speech and environmental sounds. But what about music? Why is music so hard? Why do we have such a big gap between listening aurally and streaming music? Some recipients on the board have already succeeded, what is your secret to music appreciation?

Cochlear have an app “Bring back the beat” which I’ve downloaded during the week. I’m slowly working my way through this app. What other music as are available to recipients?

I believe what makes music so difficult for us is the fact the cochlear processor/implant cannot generate all of the tones a human ear can hear. So, it will blend it to something close. For example, when I listen to anything from Michael Jackson, his voice is deeper. It is in about a normal range and not high pitched.
The sounds we hear are not the actual sounds. Even after 2 years of activation, I am still asking my family or friends on particular sounds I am hearing that I do not recognize. Once I know what the sound is, my brain slowly changes it to what I used to remember what the sound was. Shortly after activation, I was at my daughter’s basketball game and kept hearing a pinging sound. It was something similar to a windchime. I asked my wife what I was hearing, and she figured out it was the shoes squeaking on the basketball court. Now I hear a shoe squeak sound and not the windchime.
I truly believe that I do not hear voices as they are naturally. If I haven’t heard someone’s voice before losing my hearing, it is not the actual voice. Which is fine but I think it affects how I hear newer music. It doesn’t sound very good to me. Something feels off. Like the voice doesn’t match the music. I have accepted that is how it is. Which is unfortunate but I would take this any day just to be able to hear again.


Some would argue that’s true regardless of Cochlear or not! :rofl:

While this is okay for some things, I found it mainly a disappointment. The overall interface is slow & unintuitive to move between sections. The section headings themselves aren’t intuitive. The exercises recognising high vs low pitch are okay. The worst is probable the exercises to recognise the sounds of different musical instruments, as they’re using 1980’s quality synthesised instruments instead of true instrument sounds. My 1987 Korg M1 synthesiser gives the same saxophone sound as this app! I’ve written to Cochlear about this app & they just shrugged it off.

With regards to your overall comment about music, I’m now about 13 months in. If I’m lucky, I can recognise some pieces with less instrumentation, in your genres, perhaps a well known piece like Take Five. There’s no chance recognising, say, a Chick Corea piece as it’s way too complex. Rock & Roll pieces with vocals may be recognisable if the vocalisation is clear enough, but choral pieces are a no-go.

I rely on my other, good ear to listen & play music. When I’m on stage, I absolutely rely in in-ear monitors (IEM) through the good ear to hear my own instrument & other band members. Previously, I used to have one IEM plugged in solidly & the other partially in to allow some of the room ambience to filter through. Now, I just use the one IEM & the Cochlear blasts what sounds like a pipe band in my other ear!

With a purely acoustic set up, it’s really hard. I can no longer play my cello in an ensemble as my left, good ear can hear my own instrument, but I can’t hear the other instruments. My right Cochlear ear has no chance hearing pitch, although rhythm can work. However, that doesn’t help me set my own pitch. The only way I can perform now is really with IEMs, but that doesn’t happen (much) with classical music.

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I agree with you that Bring back the beat is very uninspiring, some instruments are recognizable others it’s just far to electronic sounding and it’s plain guessing. More miss than hit.

@bcarp “I can no longer play my cello in an ensemble”. Is this because of your CI or your level of hearing loss? Or both?

The right CI ear is useless at determining music pitch, quality, etc. My good left ear hears my own instrument, which drowns out the sounds of anyone else in the ensemble. So I have no idea whether I’m in time, in pitch, etc with the rest of the group. (Under bilateral hearing circumstances, the left ear would primarily hear my instrument and the right ear would primarily hear everyone else.)

I am going to be the odd one out. For me I am good with the music I listen to, mostly singer songwriters and older rock.

Does it sound like it did when I had my hearing, probably not, but it does all work together so that is fine.

My wife has broader musical tastes and some of the stuff she listens to still doesn’t work for me but that may be lack of practice on my part.

Overall I m happy with music.