DiscoverTED Radio HourThe Act Of Listening

The Act Of Listening

Update: 2016-09-027


Listening — to loved ones, strangers, faraway places — is an act of generosity and a source of discovery. In this episode, TED speakers describe how we change when we listen deeply. (Original broadcast date: June 5, 2015).

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

support for this podcast and the following message come from classy hosts of the social sectors largest event the collaborative a three day experience for nonprofits to rediscover what's possible for their mission tickets at classy dot org slash collaborative use code NPR classy to save ten percent have one its guy here we've got a bunch of new shows coming up for the fall season including one on big data on food and the age that's come to be known as the and proper seen but in the meantime here's one from our archives called the act of listening and how really listening to strangers and friends even her space can be transformative this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking Ted talks Technology Design at Stanford delivered and Ted conferences around the world gift of the human had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy rise about twenty years ago millions of people heard this voice for the very first time good mornin off to school and even out to go the the the ferocious the he marks the the the and the bland this recording is Lee Allen Jones was thirteen at the time it was nineteen eighty three and he lived in one of the most violent neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side a local public radio station gave Lee Allen and a friend tape recorders to make a documentary about their lives the music and hearing by the way the heart of the documentary was called ghetto Life one o one the city ghetto everyday the end it was basically half an hour of this kid liao the involvement though she is old and his friend Lloyd is lined the aisle for two years old just walking through a normal week in their lives this is our store was such a simple idea and yet in nineteen ninety three this was totally new first person storytelling from two African American teenagers the race unfold write this and the US I was interesting the idea of people having the chance to be listened to and tell their stories Dave I say was the producer behind get a life one he actually doesn't appear in the documentary at all because Dave wanted Lee Allen Lloyd to tell their own stories the same team the same offers automatic Glock and the AC on cans today a lot of public radio shows and podcasts are about listening to incredible stories from ordinary people but Dave I say was one of the very first to do this kind of work part of what I was trying to do in these documentaries and I always found that my voice I was there kind of pulled you out of this place and what I was trying to do is have people go to a place where they felt like they were very connected to whoever was talking and that led to things that you would never hear in a traditional documentary things like the moment when Lee Allen interviews his mom and just asks or in this incredibly casual way ole was more fond of either the felon eight so we slip up he say you is is he saying really is about Sue and I say nonsense what do you think happened from he probably D Thank you and then there's also this moment when Lee Allen interviews his grandma and she loved gospel music was all she knows who was healed and moved his call when the time could you please sing this song flows room I was adamant that do for the We do remember a new Khomeini in listening to a recording like this the is away and still learn something from someone born in a different time or a different place the Allen often says that everything he needs to know in life is contained in those recordings of his grandmother and be an aunt in an in on the news was she still can go thank the hearing a story from someone have thought was very different than you on the radio in the car with your headphones on and recognizing a little bit of yourself and that person has tremendous potential to build bridges of understanding between people and hopefully someday to move the needle on helping us recognize the power and grace and beauty in the stories we'll find all around us we take the time to listen the show today is all about that all that for listening and ideas about what become ur normally listen to people and places that are almost never her listening is an act of generosity and also a path to discovery later in the show the story of how Dave I say created a project dedicated to this idea I've heard of it it's called Story Corps which is now working to give people everywhere new way to listen to each other imagine for example national homework assignment work every high school student studying US history across the country of course an interview with Canal there over Thanksgiving so that in one single week at an entire generation of American lives and experiences are captured ladies to talk and his plan to do that coming up right now kind of listening that is a little less terrestrial the are you hearing this so what what is it this is the sound of cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the Big Bang thirteen point seven eight the music oh wow we're hearing the big bank right now you're hearing what's next to the Big Bang closest that we can come to experiencing the beginning of the universe this is our heart sure she's a sound artist and a few years ago Our started to listen to space because while most of us could tell you what space looks like other people could tell you what it sounds like here's how honor explained it from the Ted stage now this story doesn't stop with vast telescope through a futuristic spacecraft but rather more humble technology and in fact the very medium which gave us the telecommunications revolution that we're all part of today the telephone it's eighteen seventy six in Boston and this is Alexander Graham Bell who is working with Thomas Watson on the invention of the telephone to keep out of the technical setup was a HOF mile long length of wire which was thrown across the rooftops of several houses in Boston the lime carried the telephone signals that would later make Bell a household name but like any dome links of charge to plan it also to inadvertently became an antenna Thomas Watson spent hours listening to the strange crackles in his Susan Sher from us owns it is exit into antenna detectives with the strange noises as he correctly guessed some of the sounds were caused by electricity on the surface of the songs sorry whilst inventing the technology that would usher in the telecommunications revolution was son had discovered that the sty at the center of our Solar System Mission powerful radio waves hit accidentally being the first person to tune in to them the US crazy because well because we think about space as as a silent place like we don't think of space as having anything to hear well in a scene that is accurate because the medium of space itself is a vacuum and you know obviously sound can travel in a vacuum but it's the fact that as a radio waves can travel through the vacuum of space the can be detected using the same type of radio receivers and antennas carelessness and teasing to take the voices the bits with the magic is really happening here because CMOS scaling up those antennas and changing the frequency of those receivers makes it possible for us to dictate not just radio waves made by us here on earth that's a list you radio waves made by the sun were to die or post any other ist or physical phenomena some workers like out there in space rightly what is that empty sound like that empty space am like the sound of space and stuff sounds a bit like a non differentiated hissing noises just like assists pretty much ends as knowing to you racially listening to particular objects the the different objects sound like different things and Jupiter sounds like ocean waves breaking upon debate shivers on waves of radiation people is being turned into ten Rufus shore waves of radiation the sound sounds a little bit like the sea covering posts are for instance which is a pulsating radio style sounds like a drum bass the fast of the posts are responding to foster debate become quite a change to update a tortoise a year listening to just buy the sounds the three Mustang that we've come to uncover some of the universe's most important secrets scale what it's made of and even how old it is this is what the sun sounds like the this is the planet Jupiter the the the the this is a highly condensed clump of mutual mess or spinning or in the distant universe the the twenty the sounds what are they telling us about space soon one of the practices of tuning and no notable phenomena into sounds is trying to work out of this something that we can hear and the data that we can see and sometimes is can be incredibly effective detectors of patience and a way that helps our eyes because we use them so much more annoyed as effective as so suppose that's a scientific answer and in the human or artistic answer is dish is something quite nice a motion Lee fulfilling about being able to connect with something is distance and and therefore quite abstract as a star I threw the emotional mechanism of of listening these vastly in a can of Lodge Esther physical structures become a little but more tangible to us I think if we can approach them through listening as opposed to just looking on are harder is a sound artist and now the executive director of The Art Science Museum in Singapore in a moment listening with your whole body and I rise and this is the Ted Radio Hour from NPR are all oh Hey Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep this podcast going first to Whole Foods Market this week Whole Foods Market is having sales this week isn't really special because Whole Foods Market has sales every week and that put yellow stickers and signs all over the store so you can find the highest quality food at the best prices including meat and poultry farmers ranchers committed to quality and taste organic produce grown without toxic pesticides to keep an eye out for Yellow the next time you shop and visit Whole Foods Market dot com to see this week's specials thanks also to buy shares because the best preparation for tomorrow is building their future today so whatever you're inspired to build life this is the time to make it possible I shares by BlackRock inspired to build its the Ted Radio Hour from NPR guy Russ show today listening as an act of generosity and listening as a source of discovery show you another level yes he could one to three for five ABC percussion percussion drums marimba one to one team in the arts the first of all can you introduce yourself please my name is Evelyn Glen and I am a solo percussionist and therefore I go around the world and giving so the percussion concerts Evelyn is in fact one of the best known percussionist in the world hearing some of her music right now she's won major prizes she played with the top orchestras and when she spoke with us from Studio in the UK sitting right next to Evelyn hello Maria I let friend Maria who is repeating my part of the conversation so that Evelyn can lip read because she is almost entirely deaf she started to go deaf when she was a kid but she can still perform with incredible precision and amazing sensitivity to the question is how well that's a huge question I have a broad question and so it's always allowing the board e and I would see also the RIAA to be the two main factors so rather than depending on what the year is telling you win and you're reliant on that in fact I'm basically a you know or I have discovered that the heavens above you know sound is vibration and I can feed to the entire body in a way I see the body as it is a big year the saddle and demonstrating that on the Ted stage with Miranda and a set of ballots my team is to teach the world to listen Fox my only real aim in life we have to listen to ourselves first of all I remember when I was twelve started playing companion percussion and my teacher said Well how are we going to do this you know music is about listening how are you going to hear that how you could hear that most of all how do you hear it he's well I think I hear through here well I think I do too but I also hear that from my hands my arms she owns my stall tummy my chest my legs and so we began our lessons every single time shooting in particular the kettle drums accompany to such an auto pitch interval so something like the back of a difference then gradually It's amazing that when you do your body often open your off to allow comes to that inside that tiny tiny difference be felt with just the tiniest part of your finger there and together we would listen to the sirens of the instruments that Piper states The The They are all different the of weight a different sound colors the the why were you able to feel those differences between two different kinds of ballots likely would be really hard yes I mean sometimes the differences are extremely subtle indeed but if I'm using very very soft mullets where the rule it is quite loosely while you know you will get the attacks a much bigger much more prepared to listen to the residents of the science museum with a heart States will those are like bullets in a way the the the feeling will come much higher up in the board e the from the chest the neck the cheekbones the and it's much more of a sharp attack in end and when you play a you actually feel that after most people feel that no because your body is attuned to experiencing that way yes very often that you know if I'm playing a big bass drum or something I mean I can see the actual drum skin that resonates you know you really can you can see going up and I own and it's interesting because in my alley years I find that a lot of the signs that I now appreciate I really didn't appreciate early autumn golds like science so cymbals and triangles caucus peels chew the bells because I was feeding them through the year to just completely distorted everything was quite painful the but actually it's those signs that I dislike Delhi on the really do resonate in the body and I really hang onto because I've managed to just physically open myself up the then addition for the Royal Academy of Music in London and they said well no we won't accept you because we haven't a clue of the future of a so called deaf musician I just couldn't quite accept that and so therefore I said to them will look if you refuse me through those reasons as opposed to the ability to perform and to understand and love the art of creating sound then we have to think very very hard about the people you do actually accept and once we got over a little hard on having tradition twice they accepted me and not only that changed the whole roll music institutions throughout the United Kingdom and every single entry how to be listened to experience and based on the musical ability the question could either and are not and so therefore there is an extremely interesting bunch of students who arrived in these various music institutions many of them now in the professional orchestras throughout the world the what is it that people who have their full ability to hear what is it that you think they don't quite understand about listening and hearing well I mean we're all so different that I know that when I was losing my hearing was a confusing time because of course I thought that will sign was fed through the years and therefore I thought I needed Foley and you know I needed loneliness in order to hear so with hearing people of course he just signed everywhere and you can't get rid of thought well sometimes you try to by putting more signed into your system using your phones and whatever else a bit but that's just an overload again and there so many dimensions to this because these different people listen in different ways yes and it's interesting because sometimes you know if I'm with sight impaired people and I give them an instrument you know the first thing they do is to spend a good time literally feeling not instrument before any signed is being produced but as you know when you give most people a hand held instrument or something immediately as I buy my bag and it is quite fascinating because then suddenly when the youngsters did in the noontime decide to make this the paying attention so afraid he waiting for that sigh and wonder what thoughts I owned would be the so they had created this wonderful emotion and really created the pilot listening and ultimately listening is about paying attention it's about focusing and concentration the L and Lenny is a percussionist and recording artist she just won the two thousand and fifteen Polar Music Prize an award given to pop and classical musicians you can see her entire performance from the attack had come was the the man who to we so after this point we've been hearing about how listening is an act of discovery but what about when it's mainly an act of empathy what happens when we listen to people that are rarely if ever heard the news of the story begins back in the mid nineteen eighties Jeffrey Brown was a young minister as first variation was at the Union Baptist Church near Boston the And while the church was a pretty peaceful place what was going on just outside its walls was anything but it's a story he told on the Ted stage in my city and in the entire metro area in most metro areas in the United States the homicide rate started to rise precipitously it got to the point we started to change the character of the city you could go to any housing project for example like the one that was down the street from my church and you'd walk in and it would be like a ghost town because parents would allow the kids to come out and play even in the summertime because of the violence so I started to preach decrying the violence in the community and I started to look at the programming in my church and a soda to build programs that would catch the at risk youth you know those who on the fence to the violence preached and I built these programs and I thought maybe if my colleagues did the same that it would make a difference but the violence just careened out of control and I didn't know what to do and then something happened that changed everything for me as a kid by the name of Justin McKee walking home with the surrogate births will carry on to the housing project down the street from my church met up with a group of youth who are from again in Dorchester in and they were killed but as Jess was running from the sea mortally he was running in the direction of my church he died Some hundred and fifty yards away if you would have gotten to the church made a difference because the lights nobody was home and I took that as a sign the YouTube as a sign that I guess that you had to change the way you were going about this to mean a paradox start to the inside and products was this REALLY want the community that I was preaching for that I had to re define my own sense of community and reach out and embrace these young people that cut out and that meant that rather than trying to draw young people who are at risk to violence and to the confines of teachers and needed to reach out and embrace these young men who are committing the acts of violence Sosa drug dealers and gang bangers and those who out there on the street at the start to walk the streets at night late at night and there was a small Cod ray of us who came to the realization that we had to come out of the four walls of our sanctuary to meet the youth where they were not trying to figure out how to bring them in so we decided to walk together we would get together in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city on Friday night and on a Saturday night at ten pm and walked two to three in the morning I imagine we were quite the anomaly when we first started walking I mean drug dealers is your drug customer is what the police some of us would have collars on is probably really odd thing but they started speaking to us after awhile as we were talking with them a number of mis were dispelled about them with us one of the biggest miss was that these kids were cold and heartless an uncharacteristically bold in their violence but we found out was the exact opposite most of the young people who out there on the streets are just trying to make it on the streets and we also found out that some of the most intelligent and creative magnificent and why people that we've ever met on the street engaged in the struggle and as a result of that was said to them how do you see this church how do you see this institution helping the situation by the moon moves from we don't know our own neighborhood after nine pm and I were to do the talk to us you tell us what we're not seeing the and then admittedly we did something that is difficult for preachers sometimes we choose to listen and not preach the light came added that from listening to those people was a citywide program that led to a seventy nine percent drop in homicides over the next decade it became known as the Boston Miracle it's since been replicated in dozens of cities around the country basically the program made people like Jeffrey Brown mediators in their communities they worked with other leaders in the neighborhood with prosecutors and probation officers to reach out to gang members after the more support and schools maybe access to jobs police were focused more on supporting the program and last on arresting people be so you have
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The Act Of Listening