A Sonic Pulse: film exploring Deaf people’s experience of electronic music


Music shouldn’t be defined by hearing people because it’s about feeling vibrations and frequencies
– Richard France

A Sonic Pulse is about the different ways in which Deaf people connect to and experience electronic music. Through a mish-mash of experimental sounds and scenes, the film gets to the heart of how music is a universal language when we feel the vibrations. We hear about three Deaf people’s experiences clubbing, which range from the transcendental to the discriminatory, and witness a Deaf musical workshop in which participants manipulate and respond to electronic frequencies. Richard France, a music producer, talks about losing himself to the beat of the music and becoming one on the dance floor, and Troi Lee speaks of the first time he was refused entry to a club for using sign language in the queue, while Helen describes when her cochlear implant was first turned on and how this inspired the sounds behind some of her electronic tracks. Richard phrases it well when he says music shouldn’t be defined by hearing people because it’s about feeling vibrations and frequencies, and when people feel them they have a different sensual experience compared to if they hear them.

A Sonic Pulse is directed by Dorothy Allen-Pickard & Antoine Marinot.

Dorothy’s short films and multimedia shows have won prizes including Best UK New Director, BFI Future Film Festival, Guardian Documentary Award, Open City Doc Best UK Short, Young Director’s Award, Vimeo Staff Picks and Total Theatre Award. They’ve screened at international festivals, as well as on BBC3, Channel 4, i-D and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in working with non-professional actors to create semi-autobiographical films that merge documentary and fiction. Dorothy is also a member of Breach Theatre and is video editor for Another Gaze.

Antoine is a multidisciplinary Graphic Designer from France, based in London. His interest in art began with graffiti, which opened up the world of typography and colour – two elements that are still at the centre of his practice. His work spans from Branding, Art Direction, to Editorial and Digital Design. Most recently he has co-directed the documentary A Sonic Pulse, and embraced making interdisciplinary work with Okra, a South-East London based architecture studio.

“We both listen to a lot of electronic music in and outside of club environments, and because of my (Antoine’s) partial Deafness (and the prospect of losing my hearing completely) I am increasingly aware of issues relating to Deafness. I remember seeing an installation at the V&A called Tonotopia: Listening through Cochlear Implants that really peaked my interest in the subject. There was one testimony from a woman who had completely lost her hearing at a music festival after her Cochlear Implants faulted, leading to her experiencing the music in a very different way. The conversations we had while making this film have infinitely expanded our interest in the subject and reframed our conceptual understanding of how we all experience sound, music and vibrations.”