Have you ever looked up the lyrics to a song? When you read them alone, they’re flat, stagnant, and lacking the feeling the piece is meant to elicit. But add tone, expression, and a few instrumentals to the equation and you’ve got a piece overflowing with emotion and character, lifting those words into a new meaning.

So, if only those lyrics are being interpreted for the deaf community, to what extent are they being included in the art form?

Here’s one of the people bridging this gap between the auditory world and the visual by expressing the emotional power of music through a special variation of American Sign Language (ASL) created specifically for music.

Image: musician singing at a concert

Source: Pixabay

For years, Amber Galloway Gallego has been interpreting songs, both live at music festivals and on her YouTube channel, with this dynamic variation of sign language.

Here’s how TEDMED describes what she does,

“Sign language music interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego demonstrates the emotional connection between lyrics and sounds with the flow of her hands. Responding to a desire from the Deaf community to see, experience and connect emotionally to music in the same way hearing people do, Amber developed an immersive style that brings music to life in a way not often seen in music interpreting.” 1

So, how does it work? Here’s Vox with the story.

*Just a warning for sensitive ears, there are a few f-bombs dropped midway through.

Via: Vox 2

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Music is one of our oldest and most expressive forms of communication. It’s a part of who we are, so why should the ability to feel the emotions it conjures be limited to a specific group of us?

“That’s the whole reason we go to music events–is to be a part of this experience and forget about the rest of the world, and be there in that moment. And so many times deaf people are not allowed that experience because we as hearing people choose to say no.” — Amber Galloway Gallego 3

To see one example of how she truly expresses the music, take a look at Amber’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s song, Beat It, from her YouTube channel.

Additionally, you can learn more about how Amber Galloway Gallego found herself with this knack for music interpretation and what drives her to keep going in this wonderful feature from the Houston Chronicle. Be sure to explore the rest of her YouTube channel for more amazing interpretations and, as always, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” — Robin Williams

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  1. “Amber Galloway Gallego.” TEDMED. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2018. <https://www.tedmed.com/speakers/show?id=687725>.
  2. “How Sign Language Innovators Are Bringing Music to the Deaf.” YouTube. Vox, 27 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuD2iNVMS_4>.
  3. “How Sign Language Innovators Are Bringing Music to the Deaf.” YouTube. Vox, 27 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuD2iNVMS_4>.
  4. “Beat It ASL Cover.” YouTube. Amber Galloway Gallego, 18 July 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3hXjXnsIMI>.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.