Using the case study of "Eddie" as his framework, Professor Miller challenges the prevailing notion that musical savants are essentially phenomenal tape recorders and deals with the issue of "idiot savants" in a detailed, empirical investigation. Through "Eddie" the author discusses, in specific and in general, topics including the background and historical context of musical savants; other cases; data regarding the nature of the skills exhibited and the associated developmental deficits; and descriptions of a series of experiments used to define Eddie's talent. Finally, the author considers more general issues raised by savant behavior, particularly functions served by savant behavior, theories regarding its etiology, and its role in general development.
"…succeeds in uncovering the many facets of savant syndrome. His exploration into the nature of savant syndrome is executee without the sensationalism and subjectivity that often accompany discussions of this topic….strongly recommended to professionals in the fields of mental retardation of music education for special populations."
"The author's musical sophistication, combined with sound statistics and methodology, have produced a work that makes new advances in the area of musical talent in the presence of mental retardation."
—American Journal on Mental Retardation
"The author has presented a fascinating case study….. Miller's report is a welcome addition to the literature and is likely to become a standard reference for college faculty and graduate students in music education, psychology, and special education."
"This book adds considerably to the literature on the idiot-savant which has tended to err on the side of clinical speculation, but which in this monograph achieves an encouraging level of method and experiment."
—American Journal of Mental Retardation
"Leon Miller's excellent book provides numerous… insights…… Musical Savants: Exceptional Skill in the Mentally Retarded, has made a contribution to our understanding of the apparently inexplicable that is as important as it is fascinating. I cannot praise this book too highly."
—Psychology of Music
"…this excellent book goes a long way in specifying the components of musical savant ability as well as of musicianship in general."
Contents: Musical Savants of the Past. Evaluating Savant Skill. Absolute Pitch. Pitch Identification. Chord Analysis. Short Term Memory. Chords. Melodies. Rhythms. Musical Idioms. Conventional Diatonic Music. Unconventional Musical Forms 8 Long Term Memory. Correlates and Consequences of Savant Skill. On the Nature and Origin of Musical Savants. Epilogue. N. Newman, Appendices: A Music Teacher's Perspective on Savant Skill. Record of Participation. Note Duration Value and Rythms Task.