At the outset of his career as an ENT specialist Professor Tomatis shed light on the existence of a leading ear in the integration of language. He defined the primordial role of the leading ear in the targeting of sounds and in the control of spoken language.
His theory on auditive lateralisation emitted in 1951 and verified experimentally in the Tomatis centre, Paris, and later in London constitutes with the three Tomatis laws, one of the fundamental principles of the linguistic training, whether it be the mastery of the mother tongue or of a foreign language. Continuing his research in this direction he demonstrated that the regulation of language (in all of its parameters – intensity, timbre, intonation, inflections, meaning etc.) was uniquely carried out by the right ear. This is a very important fact especially with regard to foreign language learning.
The ear holds a predominant place in phonation and it is this ear that directs and organises all the phonatory coordination and musical inflections and arrangements. Its primordial role in the domain of language cannot in any way be replaced by the left ear.
Many experiments conducted on singers, musicians and actors show that when the right ear is suppressed with the aid of filters that the subject immediately loses the timbre of their voice or instrument, that the tempo slows, that the control of the voice, of language or piece disintegrates.
This is also and perhaps even especially the case of artists of international renown where all their automatic mechanisms are lost.
Maria Callas is an interesting case in point, who at one moment came to see Tomatis asking for a reeducation as she felt she had lost the control of her voice by the right ear. Although she had no idea of the theories underlying his reeducation her artistic sensitivity meant that she could discern the problem. Tomatis related this newfound fragility of the right ear to her relationship to Onassis. (See the Right Ear – The Most Important Ear in our mediatheque for the psychological explanation).
Auditive selectivity introduces the notion of the discrimination and quality of analysis of changes in tones within certain frequency bands specific to each language.
After having observed “that an individual can no longer produce the sounds that he cannot hear” Professor Tomatis introduced within his listening test the notion of the existence of a faculty of the ear to perceive the variation of frequencies within the interior of a sound spectrum as well as localising the sense of this variation.
Beyond the selectivity linked to the ethnic frequency bands emotional problems often block this faculty of analysis. From birth the ear progressively opens and by around the age of 10 or 11 the analysis of sounds by the ear should be fully open. However an event such as a move, an emotional shock, a problem in the family or at school or a voice which is perceived as aggressive is enough for a child to “protect” themselves by closing his ear. Too often, unfortunately the ear will remain closed at the age of the traumatism meaning that an affective disorder can be detected if no reeducation of the ear is undertaken.