The sounds our ears make

We typically understand that our ears receive sounds. However, they can also produce sounds. I would like to catalogue, and learn more about the various anatomic, psychological and Philosophical opportunities of… earstruments.

A list I’ve made up follows. Please add items and references of scientific, philosophical, artistic, spiritual, fictional, pataphysical &c nature.

  • Tinnitus
  • Nose noises :pig_nose: after blowing our nose. One of my fav sounds! What’s going on?
  • Cerumen blockage as a panning, nonparametric LPF
  • It’s possible to somehow vibrate your ear muscles. It’s fun.
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Does an ear infection have a sound? I fortunately never had one
  • Water in ear as a fun gurgling synth
  • Outer ear aka pinna swooshing in the wind. Not my fav while cycling to be honest
  • Something something psychoacoustics
  • If you hold your nose and carefully pressurize with your face, there’s this sound of inflation and the a little pop
  • Pet dog ear flopping when they shake. Hairless dogs are next level, e.g. here at 0:24
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Interesting topic. Do you see this including induced otoacoustic sounds in the realms of eg Ankersmit, Amacher’s, or Lucier’s work?

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Why not! I don’t know what that means, googling…

WTH Otoacoustic emission - Wikipedia cool. Where can I get them? :thinking: Now i remember listening to some artwork which was supposed to induce beating inside my ear, and it worked. Lucier? Or Maryanne Amacher?

Would binaural recordings fit somewhere in here? I think it might be a little out-of-scope but not so much that it not worth a mention 🫠

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Some of Amacher’s recordings on are vimeo. I haven’t dug into them yet as I don’t have the appropriate speakers set up at the moment.


There are some Ankersmit albums on Bandcamp. I have listened to these on good speakers and they’re pretty rad. I don’t know how relevant though. The sound is definitely in the space, turning your head changes beating patterns and emergent pitches and stuff, but that might be more to do with reflections and psychoacoustics than sounds emerging from the ears themselves. That might be splitting (cochlear?) hairs though.


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Cat ears can also be nice and slappy.

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I’ve been working a lot with auditory distortion tones in that vein if you are interested (not trying to self-advertise here).
This track “Three” off my album “Dyads” is all distortion tone music and I have an album full of it coming out later this year which I’m pretty excited about coupled with a booklet on the topic.

there is a really great book of Amacher’s writings published recently by Amy Cimini and Bill Dietz which goes a bit into the topic as well (and generally is a great read about Amacher’s thinking in regards to composition and sound).

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Probably a bit off topic but very often when I am starting to fall asleep I hear all these crazy sounds in my head. Just at the point where I am starting to nod off a little bit. Not really asleep but you catch yourself thinking very weird thoughts and so on.

Then I hear a lot of weird sounds! Earlier today when I had a nap I heard some sort of wavetable dubstep wobs. Or it can be reverse reverb risers. Very often it is stuff that sounds similar to this.

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I’ve had those too when I’m particularly tired. in my case, it seems to be a thing with tinnitus (a permanent situation in my case from birth although typically just a very high pitched whine).

Hmm. Place fingers behind ear as if listening to something. Suddenly bring fingers forward and ‘twang’ the ear. For a moment it sounds like an arrow whizzing by, hitting something maybe ?

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Mine go oooOOOOoooeeeeEEEEOOOOooeeeooooeEEEoooo

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Occasionally, usually when I’ve been somewhere quiet for a while and start to listen to something like people talking, I hear my tensor tympani muscle tightening my eardrum on every transient I hear. I think. I’m not sure if it’s exactly that, but it surely feels like it.

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Yeah, I can do that. Like the noise you hear when you yawn, but on command.

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love the ankersmit albums. the first has some great info on the bandcamp description and comes with a long interview with serge. definitely hope to catch him live sometime.

Mine go oooOOOOoooeeeeEEEEOOOOooeeeooooeEEEoooo

mine have started doing that too right before i fall asleep. it’s almost a perfect tonic/major second :joy_cat:

I don’t think this has been listed yet?
https://fonik.dk/works/labyrinthitis.html

L A B Y R I N T H I T I S

4- or 16-channel composition / sound installation (2007) 40-minutes. Commissioned by- and first performed at the Medical Museion, Copenhagen, Denmark. Limited release of the composition on Touch (2008)

Labyrinthitis works with otoacoustic emissions generated by the artist’s ears to produce otoacoustic emissions in the ears of the listeners

The 16 speakers were installed on metal rods of varying lengths to create a
3-dimensional ascending spiral hanging from the dome ceiling of a former operating theatre in the museum

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I had a few. My ears were full of liquids, working as a steep low pass filter with a cutoff around 500hz. And the occasional bubbling sound. It also triggered more tinnitus. It took a long time and some extra medication to get it cleared out. I’m not sure if it ever recovered fully.
I did learn how to clear my ears just by using muscle’s in my ears at that time. So I can make the ‘knack’ sound in my ears at will without blowing on my nose.

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Not wanting to be smart-alecky but as far as I understand we don’t really hear with our ears, but with our brain. So when we say «ear» what do we mean? Is it what we use to hear with, or just the dongelidoodles on the sides of our head.

And if it’s the former, and that the former include parts of the brain: what sounds does that make? (And what sounds can you intentionally make with it, that you feel you actually hear? Can you play a song from memory just with your brain so that you hear it?)

(Sorry, don’t mean to derail – the flippity-flops are also amazing things onto themselves!)