When Daniel Fishkin developed tinnitus preparing for his senior music recital at Bard College, he saw it as a betrayal. “I used to think of sound as a neutral phenomenon, and I used to think of music as a benevolent force,” he said, “Now music can be quite threatening, something not to be trusted.” Indeed, the illness threatened his primary aspiration: not just to play music, but to create it. Although tinnitus made it impossible for Fishkin, now a graduate student at Wesleyan University, to compose in a traditional manner, he persisted working in the area and created “Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2014,” a piece that he describes as his life’s work. He hopes this work will improve awareness about the ear disorder and lead to a cure.

Composing against Tinnitus

“The Tinnitus Suites” depended not just on composing music, but on creating instruments that could capture and convey the experience of tinnitus sufferers. Fishkin turned away from working with traditional instruments and focused his efforts on the study of electronic circuits and feedback. For the tinnitus suites, he created a massive instrument, which could be described also as an art installation for its size and delicacy. The instrument, called the Lady’s Harp, has 25-foot-long piano wires that are hooked up to a feedback amplifier. The piano wires transform and convey the vibrations throughout the space, creating what the reviewer described as a “haunting, whining frequency.”

Powerful Music and a Powerful Purpose

The Wesleyan Argus’ reviewer praised the music for its ability to make people experience what tinnitus sufferers experience daily: loneliness, isolation, and sounds that are literally ear-piercing.

Fishkin himself talked about the purpose of his composition, which he hoped would bring awareness for tinnitus so that more people would work to develop a cure. He said he was inspired by the story of William L. Morris. Morris developed tinnitus after being struck with buckshot. The roaring Morris head in his ears were so bad that he committed suicide in 2010, writing in his suicide note that he hoped his death would bring attention to tinnitus so that a cure might save others from the tragic suffering he experienced.

TMJ Treatment for Tinnitus Sufferers

We are still a long way from finding a cure for all tinnitus sufferers. However, this is likely because there are many causes and types of tinnitus. One treatable cause of tinnitus is TMJ. TMJ treatment can significantly reduce or even eliminate tinnitus for some people.

If you suspect that TMJ might be responsible for your tinnitus, please call 845-627-7645 for an appointment with a Rockland County dentist at B & D Dental Excellence.