I recently came across a very interesting blog post from Barry Farrimond of OpenUp Music in the UK. In this article he considers how within the social model of disability, the actual music can in fact be disabling as it is often written to be played on a specific instrument (which may in itself be inaccessible to many) and often can only be performed by a highly skilled musician with long dexterous fingers. As someone working in the area of assistive technology I am used to considering whether texts, other media, technologies or even architecture are constructed with accessibility in mind however it had never before occurred to me that music should be written with consideration to its accessibility to potential performers. I’m still not sure it should be but it has certainly got me thinking. The video below contains the piece of music that inspired him to consider this perspective. It is called “Impromptu for 12 fingers” and is taken from the movie Gattaca in which it is performed by a 12 fingered pianist. It is based on a piece of classical music by the composer Schubert and unsurprisingly was in fact written for a 10-fingered performer however for the movie they added notes to the original score that could only be accessed if the pianist had an extra couple of digits. Although beautiful, Barry points out that this music is disabling to everyone who hears it and he uses this as his starting point for a thought provoking and insightful look into the world of accessible music.
Read the full article at the link below but first maybe take a few minutes to listen to some beautiful music that you will never be able to play..