Initially, I thought the following to be an improvement, but now I'm not so sure. Here it is:
It is possible to read without understanding, but impossible to listen without hearing.
The sound and cadence of the words may have improved the parallelism but not the meaning. How about:
It is possible to understand without reading, but impossible to listen without hearing.
No, that won't do. It simply states what is obvious and it would not be consonant with a musical analogy.
Thinking out loud, now, music is indeed the universal language. However, just plain sound is not a language. We may anthropomorphize the sounds of nature, but even then, the sound of a bumblebee, for example, will be imitated differently in different languages with wildly divergent onomatopea.
The same reasoning applies to the sound of thunder, the sound of a tree falling in the forest (yes, it makes a sound, even if no one is there to hear it!), and the sound of squealing car brakes. A person with normal hearing receives the auditory signals in the same way another person does, even though some people are better guessers than others in saying what exactly they hear. Then too, normal-hearing people can "block out" sounds when they are totally engrossed in a competing activity, in the same way teenagers do when their mothers ask them to take out the trash. (I need to qualify the last sentence, of course, since many teens do hear their mothers; they're just not listening!)
Back to music . . .. Yes, music involves the same laws of physics and physiology as just plain sounds (the crack of lightning, the roar of thunder), but when music is made by sentient human beings, they do so deliberately and with technique, whether they are making whistling sounds by blowing into their cupped hands (something I'm pretty good at), or expertly stroking the strings of a violin with a horsehair bow as they play Brahms' Violin Concerto.
As dramatists say, "Things move; people act."
Where does that leave us, then? Well, of music, people are wont to say,
No particular genre of music really turns me on. I have rather eclectic tastes. I do, however, know good music when I hear it.
Interesting. They know good music when they hear it. Are knowing what good music is and liking the good music one hears causally related, such that hearing good music automatically brings pleasure to someone? Of course not. I can enjoy the heck out of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony when I'm in the mood to listen to it. When I'm not in the mood, however, I derive very little pleasure from it. In fact, it can even sound like so much noise!
Another wrinkle: How can someone's judgment as to what constitutes good music be measured? Some people are said to have tin ears, whereas others are said to have golden ears. Why? Certainly, education has a great deal to do with what one hears and how one hears it. Still, a person who has never taken a music course or been able to read a note of music can still appreciate a classic piece of music, such as Beethoven's Seventh. By the same token, the very same person can also appreciate a Reggae song, whether it's played expertly by native Jamaicans or less than expertly by WASPS.
Still another wrinkle is the effect which music has on folks who are born deaf. We all know that deaf people can feel music's vibrations, but then so can hearing people. Obviously deaf people are missing an extremely important part of music, but have you ever heard a deaf person sing? Of course a person who lost his or her hearing after knowing what music sounds like through hearing ears can likely sing. Actually, I've never knowingly heard a person who was born deaf, sing. I googled that question just now and went to this site. Interesting!
Are we any closer to crafting a catchy sentence with great parallelism? Well, again, thinking out loud: Perhaps we need to incorporate the word music into the sentence. You could go with my first suggestion, provided you went on to develop and explain it, using the magic words, "for example." We've kind of concluded, however, that the sentence may not be worth saving, so let's see what we come up with by including the word music in it.
A couple of first tries:
- Sound is impossible to ignore completely, but music is possible to appreciate incompletely.
Hey, we might be on to something here!
- It is quite impossible to ignore sound completely, but eminently possible to appreciate music incompletely.
I think I'll stop there, at least for now.