Since advent of autism as a diagnosed condition in the 1940s, the importance of music in the lives of autistic people has been widely observed and studied. Articles on musical savants, extraordinary feats of musical memory, unusually high rates of absolute or "perfect" pitch, and the effectiveness of music-based therapies abound in the autism literature. Meanwhile, music scholars and historians have posited autism-centered explanatory models to account for the unique
musical artistry of everyone from Bela Bartok and Glenn Gould to "Blind Tom" Wiggins.
Given the great deal of attention paid to music and autism, it is surprising to discover that autistic people have rarely been asked to account for how they themselves make and experience music or why it matters to them that they do. In Speaking for Ourselves, renowned ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan does just that, engaging in deep conversations - some spanning the course of years - with ten fascinating and very different individuals who share two basic things in common: an autism
spectrum diagnosis and a life in which music plays a central part. These conversations offer profound insights into the intricacies and intersections of music, autism, neurodiversity, and life in general, not from an autistic point of view, but rather from many different autistic points of view. They invite
readers to partake of a rich tapestry of words, ideas, images, and musical sounds (on the companion website) that speak to both the diversity of autistic experience and the common humanity we all share.
Michael Bakan is Professor of Ethnomusicology at Florida State University. His more than fifty publications include the books World Music: Traditions and Transformations and Music of Death and New Creation, as well as articles and book chapters on topics ranging from the ethnomusicology of autism to cinematic music and postmodernism. Bakan serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Ethnomusicology and as series editor for the Routledge Focus on World Music book series. As a percussionist, he has performed with John Cage, Tito Puente, Rudolf Serkin, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and several leading gamelan groups in Bali, Indonesia.
Figures Companion Website Contents Acknowledgements Prologue: Autumn, 2003 1. Introduction 2. Zena Hamelson 3. Mara Chasar 4. Donald Rindale 5. Elizabeth J. "Ibby" Grace 6. Dotan Nitzberg 7. Graeme Gibson 8. Maureen Pytlik 9. Gordon Peterson 10. Amy Sequenzia 11. Addison Silar 12. Conclusion: "Living with Autism Shouldn't Be Hard" References Cited Additional Reading