People, the ear is not the only organ of hearing!

Every hole in the body admits those agitations of the air we call music. The long-standing dominance of the ear in matters of hearing is unfortunate, to say the least. It curtails both the listening pleasure of deprecated body parts, such as nostrils, and the composition of songs more appropriate for the pores, anus, etc. Remember, it is not the ear's superior sensitivity to music that has made it pre-eminent, but its proximity to the brain. Our eagerness to, as we are pleased to call it, "understand" has made the ear a mere caddy of that obscure and even eerie cargo, meaning. This has deprived speech in particular and sound in general - with the exception of loud bangs, screams, and rumbles (there is a violent storm just breaking overhead)- of its audience in the rest of the body. It has starved the stomatic, urethral, vaginal, and colorectal system of music, causing serious blockages, and perverted our mouths from their original functions, such as sucking. Musicians, take heed: we want to hear the wet! I consider myself fortunate in having but a feeble understanding of music, possessing as I do what is called a tin ear, though I prefer to call it a meat ear - that is, an ear that hears huff and grunt and trickle where others hear intelligible syllables. With this in mind I would like to offer a short list of songs that can be enjoyed by the mouth and other parts, precisely because they offer considerable resistance to the understanding. Those who must still rely on ears for their hearing needs will, however, find much of interest here, and may even discover that extended listening has a healing influence on their body. Try wearing your ear[sic]phones somewhere else for a change!

1. Mumble Song (Fawn-Breasted Bowerbird)

A member of Clamydera Cerviniventris that resided near a construction site in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea was recorded by Ian Burrows for the British museum in August 1993. A John Cageian bird with a sincere and catholic admiration for noise, it mimics the stutter of a shaken spraypaint can, the scrape of an aluminum ladder on concrete, hammers and saws, but most awesomely and poignantly, the mumble of overheard speech, in which no distinct words can be made out. Study the Bowerbird to learn the song of sotto voce (sadly omitted on the short clip included here).

2. Song of American (Dario Fo)

I saw the Nobel-prize-winning performer Dario Fo perform his one-man show Mistero Buffo in a huge tent in Berlin circa 1984. The show revives an ancient Italian theater form he calls grammalot, an onomatopoeic, rhythmic nonsense language composed of words you can chew - words for the mouth, not the understanding. Consulting a dictionary I would like to get my hands on, he translated his un-Italian into un-French and un-American. Not un-English: without one recognizeable word, the bawled vowels and jaunty rhythms were unmistakeably American. But American as a Bowerbird would understand it.

3. Song of Simlish (The Sims)

The figments that occupy the game of Sims speak their own grammalot. It sounds something like Tristan Tzara as delivered by Hello Kitty. You can listen to Depeche Mode singing in Simlish if you want to meditate on strange convergences, but I recommend eavesdropping on any two Sims in conversation, like these.

4. Song of Minus I (Language Removal Services)

Not to be confused with Ben Marcus's fictional operations, this group of real live sound artists take recordings of speeches and performances by notables (Maria Callas to Abbie Hoffman) and digitally subtract the words. What remains is a spooky seethe of breath, gasps, gulps and echoes.

5. Song of Minus II (Jaap Blonk)

What the president will say and do. What the president will say and d. What the president will say nd d! What the president will s nd d, etc. Idiosyncratic sound artist Jaap Blonk bleeds this phrase of its vowels until only a martial clash of consonents survives to sputter and pink the face. Whtthprsdntwllsnd! Political commentary you can feel.

6. Song of Plus (Jason Salavon)

AKA The Song of the Century. Twenty-seven simultaneous cover versions of the most recorded song in history, the Beatles' Yesterday. The tune goes away. What lingers: one long, sentimental sigh.