|04-25-2011, 08:47 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Blog Entries: 3
Deaf girl feels the beat
Deaf girl feels the beat - thestar.com
Beats are blaring from two subwoofers facing 7-year-old Mackenzie Ripley, a gregarious girl who makes her own music in her dad’s Parkdale apartment.
Pressing on the keyboard with a small finger, Mackenzie rolls her chair closer to a vibrating speaker and touches it with an open palm.
The room is buzzing with sound — sloppy, slightly off-kilter electronic beats — but Mackenzie cannot hear it. She feels it instead.
Born deaf, Mackenzie took an interest in making her own beats when she was only three years old, following a path blazed by her dad, a 31-year-old music producer named Graham Wood.
“She grew up in the studio,” Wood says. “I’ve been making beats for a long time, she always saw me messing around with the gear and stuff. She would always feel the vibrations.”
Wood, who has a day job as a cook, creates spacey music he calls “experimental broken-beat hip-hop.” It’s more popular in Europe than here, he says. In the music world, he’s known as “9planets.” Mackenzie, naturally, has become “Lil Pluto.”
At first, Mackenzie’s mom Sarah Ripley, whom she lives with most of the time, says her daughter didn’t tell her much about what she and her dad got up during visits to his apartment/studio.
“It was almost a secret little thing that they did together,” says Ripley, 26. “Now that she’s really good at it she wants everybody to know.”
Wood helped Mackenzie record a five-track EP, Cosmic Slurpee, which is now available online through an independent French label called Cascade Records. She has played her music for her Grade 1 class at Davisville Junior Public School, which has a program for deaf students. She always monitors the number of album uploads online, where spaced-out songs like “Pink and Purple and Green and Black” and “Space Kittens!” can be listened to free.
In sign language, Mackenzie says she wants people to hear her music and think it is “amazing.”
“It’s given her some confidence,” Wood says. “She knows she’s doing something that she shouldn’t really be able to do.”
Ripley says she and Mackenzie have always used vibrations to communicate; if Ripley is in the kitchen and Mackenzie is in the family room, Ripley might tap her foot to the floor, like the mother of a hearing child would call out a name.
Now Mackenzie has taken that unique method of communicating to the next level, Ripley says. “I think it just gives her maybe another way to express her feelings.”
Both parents admit they don’t fully understand what the vibrations feel like to their daughter. In sign language, Mackenzie explains that there are differences between sounds: some are big and others small.
Wood helps his daughter with the technical stuff — she is 7, after all. When they make a track, he lets her choose some sounds from his analog synth and then sets them up on the sampler. He marks a few keyboard keys with stickers to act as a guide, something he also does for himself.
Then, with the sound cranked up for maximum hum, Mackenzie jams.
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
- Helen Keller
|05-12-2011, 07:26 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: New England, USA