“With Concord of Sweet Sounds…”
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04583.x
Abstract or Description
Questions about music's evolution and functions have long excited interest among scholars. More recent theoretical accounts have stressed the importance of music's social origins and functions. Autism and Williams syndrome, neurodevelopmental disorders supposedly characterized by contrasting social and musical phenotypes, have been invoked as evidence for these. However, empirical data on social skills and deficits in autism and Williams syndrome do not support the notion of contrasting social phenotypes: research findings suggest that the social deficits characteristic of both disorders may increase rather than reduce the importance of music. Current data do not allow for a direct comparison of musical phenotypes in autism and Williams syndrome, although it is noted that deficits in music cognition have been observed in Williams syndrome, but not in autism. In considering broader questions about musical understanding in neurodevelopmental disorders, we conclude that intellectual impairment is likely to result in qualitative differences between handicapped and typical listeners, but this does not appear to limit the extent to which individuals can derive benefits from the experience of listening to music.