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Music and Autism, Representation and Re-presentation: An Ethnomusicological Perspective

  • Michael B. Bakan
Chapter
Part of the Culture, Mind, and Society book series (CMAS)

Abstract

This chapter offers an ethnomusicological exploration of the relationship between music and autistic lived experience. The work as a whole builds toward—and is indeed largely defined by—a separate piece of writing contained within it: an autobiographical memoir by an American musician and musicologist who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in his mid-40s. The memoir emerged from a series of online dialogues with the chapter’s author, in which ethnomusicology was defined as the study of how people make and experience music, and of why it matters to them that they do. It addresses and problematizes the questions inherent in that definition in nuanced and multidimensional ways, offering an account that is deeply personal while speaking to larger issues of autistic musical perception, cognition, performativity, and ontology. In so doing, it becomes a generative mechanism for a listening-based, re-presentational (as opposed to representational) way of thinking about and researching autism. Understanding autism ought rightly to begin with listening to, communicating with, and learning from autistic people—through their words and utterances, their actions and performances; on their terms, according to their values. This chapter draws from and builds upon such premises.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael B. Bakan
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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