About Me
I'm a Canadian PhD student living in Scotland, where I study music, media, and culture at Stirling University.

My Work
Curriculum Vitae
PhD Abstract

Peer-reviewed articles:
The rough guide to critics: musicians discuss the role of the music press (Popular Music 25:2, 2006)

Conference papers:
Comparing the shaming of jazz and rhythm and blues in music criticism (Experience Music Project 2006)

Was Newport 1969 the Altamont of Jazz? The role of music festivals in shaping the jazz-rock fusion debate (Leeds International Jazz Conference 2006)

Down Beat vs. Rolling Stone: the battle for authority in the American music press, 1967-1970 (IASPM Biennial Conference 2005)

Web articles:
Sounds Prohibited
Brain Machines

CD reviews:
Proffessor Undressor

Current musical projects: Zoey Van Goey
Maritime Rock Opera Club

m.t.brennan at stir.ac.uk
Friends With Websites:
Dru (The Dominion)
Sylvia Nickerson
Inez Templeton
Inez: the blog
Clark Richards
Tara Wells
Max Liboiron
John Haney
Eva Bartlett

Musical Friends:
David Myles
Jamie (Near Earth Astronaut)
Jay (Proffessor Undressor)
Jim (Shotgun and Jaybird)
Jon (Rhume)
Kirk (Orchard Hill Road)
Mark, Mike (Barriomatic Trust)
Matt Johnston
Pat (Random Andy)
Troy (Pimp Tea)

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inspiration (3)
mad science (4)
media theory (4)
music biz (10)
other (6)
personal (13)
powers that be (7)
travel (4)
visual creativity (9)
words (1)

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January 19, 2004

Artistic genius may lie dormant in all of us


There's a great article in the special quarterly issue of Scientific American on savant syndrome. You need to pay to read it online, but I've pasted the opening paragraphs below. To be amazed and inspired, read on:

Scientific American: Leslie Lemke is a musical virtuoso. At the age of 14 he played, flawlessly and without hesitation, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 after hearing it for the first time while listening to a television movie several hours earlier. Lemke had never had a piano lesson--and he still has not had one. He is blind and developmentally disabled, and he has cerebral palsy. Lemke plays and sings thousands of pieces at concerts in the U.S. and abroad, and he improvises and composes as well.

Richard Wawro's artwork is internationally renowned, collected by Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, among others. A London art professor was "thunderstruck" by the oil crayon drawings that Wawro did as a child, describing them as an "incredible phenomenon rendered with the precision of a mechanic and the vision of a poet." Wawro, who lives in Scotland, is autistic.

[Lemke and Wawro] have savant syndrome, an uncommon but spectacular condition in which people with various developmental disabilities, including autism, possess astonishing islands of ability and brilliance that stand in jarring juxtaposition to their overall mental handicap. Savant syndrome is seen in about one in 10 people with autism and in approximately one in 2,000 people with brain damage or mental retardation. Of the known savants, at least half are autistic and the remainder have some other kind of developmental disorder.

Much remains mysterious about savant syndrome. Nevertheless, advances in brain imaging are permitting a more complete view of the condition, and a long-standing theory of left hemispheric damage has found support in these imaging studies. In addition, new reports of the sudden appearance of savant syndrome in people with certain forms of dementia have raised the intriguing possibility that some aspects of such genius lie dormant in all of us.

(Excerpted from "Islands of Genius", by Darold Treffert and Gregory Wallace, published in the June 2002 issue of Scientific American.)

Posted by matt at January 19, 2004 07:06 PM