June 26, 2012

The Human iPod!

Derek Paravicini is blind and severely disabled yet can master any song after hearing it once... What is his secret?

Story: Daily News  |  By HARRY MOUNT

Thirty years ago, Derek Paravicini was within a heartbeat of death. No other baby born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital 14 weeks prematurely had ever survived. His twin sister was dead at birth.

When Derek came along a few minutes later, the doctor presumed that he, too, could not possibly live. And yet, and yet... just when his mother Mary Ann had given up hope, she heard the faintest of whimpers, the tiniest of muffled squeaks. He had made it.

Three decades on, Derek no longer makes muffled squeaks. Instead, he brings a rapt audience in St George’s concert theatre, Bristol, to their feet again and again, with a dazzling range of music — an Oscar Peterson arrangement of Greensleeves, his own version of Bach’s Air in the key of G, a jaunty ragtime taste of Debussy.

Piano virtuouso: Derek Paravicini, playing at the St George's concert hall in Bristol, was born blind and autistic

You’ll have heard of perfect pitch. Well, Derek has absolute pitch — a rare gift, meaning that, when he hears a chord with ten notes in it, he can identify every one. Most professional musicians can get about five.

He can master any melody on earth, has a databank of thousands of songs in his head and can play any one of them at will, improvising as he goes.

One member of the audience asks him to play Ain’t No Sunshine. Another suggests that he play it in B major. And another, that it’s done in ragtime. No problem — without a pause, his fingers flutter across the keyboard in a hummingbird blur of staggering virtuosity.  READ MORE >>

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