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Christmas bells made my head hurt!
Old 12-21-2019, 12:26 PM   #1
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Christmas bells made my head hurt!

Has anyone else experienced this? Outside the local Wal-mart there were 2 SA bell-ringers, or should I say wringers, wringing with all their might, and a lady of advanced years playing, I assume, Christmas songs on a flute (I heard one dreadful flat that probably wasn't intentional).

They called out "Merry Christmas!" but I said nothing, as I couldn't wait to get past their noise and into the store. I heard one call "Thank you," after me as I made it inside.

Normally I have no problems with bell-ringing, and anybody with the guts to play the flute in front of strangers, however badly, has my respect. And I always respond to "Merry Christmas."

In this case, though, the noise of the bells was so loud, and pitched so precisely to my tinnitus, that it hurt my ears. In fact it was excruciating. My ears were still ringing inside the store. On the way out, I had my hands over my ears going past them, which I'm sure looked unfriendly and rude. Nobody else seemed disturbed by the sound.

I feel bad about this. Has it ever happened to any of you?
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Old 12-21-2019, 12:41 PM   #2
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NO, not me.. Sorry you experienced this, doesn't sound like fun.
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Old 12-21-2019, 12:47 PM   #3
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Yes. I try to go in another door to avoid the bell ringers but thats not always an option.

Yesterday was a nice change. There was a bell ringer/wringer outside the grocery store but instead of a constant ringing he was just giving it a shake every couple of seconds. He wasn't shouting Merry Christmas over his own ringing... he said it during the lulls. Since it was softer and intermittent it almost made it pleasant (from a distance! I didn't notice it then but I think he stopped whenever somebody was nearby.
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Old 12-21-2019, 03:18 PM   #4
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Certain frequencies, especially high pitch, can cut right through you head. Bells can do that.

Today while I was sitting in a coffee house courtyard with a couple of friends there was a Santa Claus for the little munchkins. It was fun to see them and their young parents excited with the holiday season. However, the children's voices and squeals just about split my head in two.


Cheers!
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Old 12-21-2019, 08:18 PM   #5
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Certain frequencies, especially high pitch, can cut right through you head. Bells can do that. ...

To the OP, yes, bells can do that. I'm an engineer, an amateur musician, and just generally interested in audio phenomena. Bells sound unique to us, because they have a non-harmonic (dissonant) overtone series. The bell shape makes them resonant at different frequencies. The dissonance can sound quite jarring to the ear, especially when it is loud.

A bell sound could not be synthesized with any accuracy w/o the use of a special non-harmonic device called a "ring modulator", or by digital means. They are different from strings (guitar, violin, etc), or tuned percussion (marimba, xylophone, etc), or winds or reeds or pipes - those all have harmonics which are whole number multiples of the fundamental pitch.



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.... It was fun to see them and their young parents excited with the holiday season. However, the children's voices and squeals just about split my head in two.

Cheers!
I've read that there is a biological/evolutionary reason for that. Babies/children may not be able to communicate effectively, but they can make themselves heard! Their pitch is right in the region that most ears are the most sensitive (search for Fletcher-Munson for more).

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:42 AM   #6
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The sound of the two constantly-shaking bells seemed to build on itself and be everywhere, if that makes sense. From a distance it just sounded like cheery tinkling. But when I got close - ouch! I did wonder if I was unique in this respect. I have the usual high-frequency (well, not really HF, but you know what I mean) hearing loss due to aging; but so would the ringers, who were probably older than I am. And clearly, the sound wasn't bothering them.

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To the OP, yes, bells can do that. I'm an engineer, an amateur musician, and just generally interested in audio phenomena. Bells sound unique to us, because they have a non-harmonic (dissonant) overtone series. The bell shape makes them resonant at different frequencies. The dissonance can sound quite jarring to the ear, especially when it is loud.

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2019, 06:35 AM   #7
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We went to Walmart the other day gave a few bucks to the bell ringer to the right as we came to the door. While exiting we went the other way, there was another bell ringer, this one was a patient of my wife's apparently(hippa). We gave her a few bucks, then drove across the road to the grocery store, there was yet another bell ringer, ugh. We just smiled then walked in.
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Old 12-22-2019, 07:01 AM   #8
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The Salvation Army is one of my favorite charities and I send them a big check every year. So I never feel guilty about passing up a bell ringer.
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Old 12-22-2019, 08:55 AM   #9
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I noticed the ringers around here have tiny bells this year. They don't carry far, and are pretty quiet. This is a change from previous years. I wonder if it was due to past experiences like OP's.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Has anyone else experienced this? Outside the local Wal-mart there were 2 SA bell-ringers, or should I say wringers, wringing with all their might, and a lady of advanced years playing, I assume, Christmas songs on a flute (I heard one dreadful flat that probably wasn't intentional).

They called out "Merry Christmas!" but I said nothing, as I couldn't wait to get past their noise and into the store. I heard one call "Thank you," after me as I made it inside.

Normally I have no problems with bell-ringing, and anybody with the guts to play the flute in front of strangers, however badly, has my respect. And I always respond to "Merry Christmas."

In this case, though, the noise of the bells was so loud, and pitched so precisely to my tinnitus, that it hurt my ears. In fact it was excruciating. My ears were still ringing inside the store. On the way out, I had my hands over my ears going past them, which I'm sure looked unfriendly and rude. Nobody else seemed disturbed by the sound.

I feel bad about this. Has it ever happened to any of you?
Firstly, you are forgiven as this is quite a special situation.

Secondly, if you really still feel guilty then maybe this will help. Revisit the ringers. Approach slowly with a smile and make a "T" sign like timeout. Have a clearly exposed $5 bill in hand and dump it into their bucket. If you like, explain your predicament and health issue. Now you might well feel better about the whole incident. Just a thought and you certainly don't have to do this.

Happy holidays and I hope your ear issues get better!

P.S. Yesterday I dumped a $1 bill in the ringers bucket. I save all my coins during the year but then regularly forget them when going to the grocery store.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:53 AM   #11
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I was watching a movie in a big social hall at my church recently. I found the narrator's voice extremely loud and jarring, so I moved the the back of the hall. There were a few other noise avoiders back there, but 95% of the crowd stayed up front, apparently not being annoyed by the volume (or maybe they were too embarrassed to get up and escape). No one (including me) asked them to turn it down, lol. I have poor hearing, so I am surprised there weren't more folks moving away from the sound. The bells don't bother me, luckily.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:05 PM   #12
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Recently went to a loud Xmas party and could not wait to get out of there. The only good thing about that loudness is you don't have to worry too much about carrying on a conversation. Just smile at people.

Noisy places are just jarring and unpleasant to me. I've been this way for many years so not a sign of old age.
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Old 12-22-2019, 02:48 PM   #13
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The worse my hearing gets for conversations the more loud noises hurt my ears. Go figure. I find sudden noises like the dropping of a dish or pan especially hurtful. Higher frequency singers are painful too.
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Old 12-22-2019, 02:58 PM   #14
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All you folks complaining about hearing related problems, which may indicate a hearing loss of some type, might want to read this:

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In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D, and his colleagues found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Quote:
“Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain,” Lin says. “Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia.”

As you walk, your ears pick up subtle cues that help with balance. Hearing loss mutes these important signals, Lin notes. “It also makes your brain work harder just to process sound. This subconscious multitasking may interfere with some of the mental processing needed to walk safely.”
The Links Between Hearing and Health
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