Have you ever met someone who could play a Top 40 song by ear on an instrument…after hearing the song one time? I have met toddlers who were non-verbal, but could sing and hum in harmony with me whenever I sang. These individuals have high Musical Intelligence.
Musical intelligence is defined by Howard Gardner as “a competence not only in composing and performing pieces with pitch, rhythm and timbre but also in listening and discerning” (Human Intelligence, p. 22). He added that this intelligence may also blend in with linguistic, spatial, and bodily-kinesthetic. The blending makes sense, as the other three all have aspects that can be found in music. Beethoven and John Coltrane are both included in this category.
Musicians of all types fall safety into this intelligence category. It also includes composers, conductors, and in my opinion, producers as well. All of them have an ear for what sounds good, can write/create amazing pieces, and feel at their best when doing it.
There is debate on whether or not autistic individuals who can perfectly duplicate musical pieces are truly showing musical intelligence, as it is argued that they are simply mimicking. Still, in order to mimic, one has to have the aforementioned ear to catch all the nuances within the piece. What can be debated is whether or not the ability to create original pieces of music is included in the definition of musical intelligence. Gardner’s definition above makes no reference to such a prerequisite, but it is one I have heard pop up often in autism circles. Personally, I feel that every example I’ve given in this entry is of musical intelligence!
Next, I will look at another favorite of mine, Verbal-Linguistic. Also, if you missed my entires on Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, or Naturalistic, be sure to check those out as well. As always, you can go to my Classes page to see what services I offer.
Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Howard Gardner. BasicBooks, 1983.
Brainboxx Musical Intelligence (take note of the blurb about the slave child)
ThoughtCo piece (which brings up another interesting debate about musical intelligence)
Photo credit: Buzzle article on Musical Intelligence