The ability to listen–and listen intently and consciously–is the most fundamental attribute to developing the skill to use language in all its various forms and formats.

This form of listening is called inner hearing. It exists in everyone in varying degrees. Nevertheless, it still has to be developed and trained.

Music that is familiar to us is easy to recall. From nursery rhymes to popular songs–melodies and lyrics that we knew from our early years all the way through adolescence have been engraved in our minds without us realising–especially if we’ve heard the melody or the lyrics a sufficient number of times. The same process is active in our minds when we feel we just can’t get a thought or a tune out of our head.

It has been planted there over time.

Advertisers and marketers engage this faculty by repeating, on a loop, short snippets of music that will stick in people’s minds.

This faculty is of utmost importance to writers, musicians and language teachers. Music, too, is a language that needs to be heard, felt and then expressed. The same could be said of our innate ability to use the languages that we learned growing up.

This attribute of the inner ear begins inwardly. A mental impulse that triggers a physical response. This process becomes more difficult as the language grows in complexity. It is easier to remember and recall simple and repetitive melodies and more difficult to recall complex ideas that are non-repetitive in nature.

A technique that musicians use to strengthen the inner ear is ‘playing by ear’. This differs to musicians who are able to actively hear–through their inner year–the score that is written and recorded in print. For a long time, it was assumed that people who learnt to play music by ear would never master the ability to read music.

Inner hearing should be the beginning of any work of art. Even before we press a key or write a word to produce a sound or a visual, we should learn to listen. This ability to listen, in turn, will trigger the physical response that allows us to play what we hear. Through this process, we can create music; as opposed to chaos.

Greater wax moths can detect sound at frequencies of up to 300 kHz which is higher than any other animal in the world.

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