The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ainan Celeste Cawley, composer, for “Reflection” a film, by Ignas Versinskas.

Ainan Celeste Cawley, my eldest son, composed the music for the film, “Reflection” , at age 12. The short film (15 minutes), written and directed by Ignas Versinskas, is premiering at the Vilnius International Film Festival, which is from March 14th to March 28th, in Lithuania.

Now, I don’t know if you know much about film scoring...but Google taught me something very interesting. In the field of film music scoring, a youthful composer is thought to be one in their twenties. I couldn’t find any examples of ones anywhere near as young as Ainan was when he composed the music used in Reflection. It seems, therefore, that Ainan is the youngest film score composer, in world history.

It came as a big surprise that Ainan, who has over the years been primarily interested in science, computer programming, mathematics and digital animated film-making, should suddenly emerge as a composer. It was very sudden. We had a piano in our house for six long years – and Ainan never touched it. He seemed utterly uninterested in it. Then, one day, I heard music coming from the piano room, when Ainan was in the early months of his 12th year. It was very familiar music...Beethoven, in fact. I approached the room, very curious as to what I would find. There Ainan sat, at the piano, playing Beethoven, without any sense, at all, that this might be considered unusual – considering that he was doing so, without any piano lessons, or aid, whatsoever. I listened and didn’t interrupt until he had finished. It was only then that I told him how beautiful it sounded. He quietly absorbed my words without comment.

“How did you learn to play that?” I further enquired.

“Oh, I heard it somewhere, before.” He said, casually.

It turned out that he remembered the music from months ago and had worked it out, by ear on the piano.

Within days, Ainan was composing his own pieces. I learnt this by asking him who had composed the piece he had just played one day.

“Me.”, he answered, simply and started to play another – of his own, it turned out.

Music emerged from him, spontaneously and with considerable skill, considering how little time he had been playing and composing.

My friend, Ignas Versinskas, a director, writer and actor, whom I had worked with on Vikingdom, (both of us were actors on it) was making a film. He invited me to play the lead, Trent, in the film Reflection. Trent is an Interpol agent – a detective whose life consists of inquiry into the darker acts human beings are capable of. I agreed to do the role. However, Ignas had a problem – the composer he intended to use had gone overseas and was difficult to contact. That gave me the idea of a solution. I invited Ignas round to listen to Ainan play his music.

Ignas was smitten at once. Ainan’s music was just what was needed for Reflection. He decided then and there to invite Ainan to compose the music for Reflection.

Ainan composed the music for Reflection over a few weeks, at a few minutes, to tens of minutes, a day of work. He is quite spontaneous with his music and it didn’t need all that much time to compose the pieces. He ended up composing quite a few more works than were actually used: the ones most suited to the needs of the film, were chosen.

Ainan then played the music into a computer system, which recorded his performance in complete detail. 

Then the music was output, sometimes as a piano, as it had been input – but sometimes as other instruments. Thus, the music used in the film was all performed by Ainan as well as composed, but his performance is disguised by the fact that some of it had been output to sound like different instruments, to the piano he plays.

If you take a look at Ainan’s IMDB page, here:

You will note that Ainan is now described as a composer and is listed as the composer on Reflection.

If you click through to the full cast and crew page for Reflection, here:

You will see that it states “Original Music score by Ainan Celeste Cawley”.

Of all of Ainan’s many achievements in his life, this one is the one of which I am both most proud and most surprised. I regard it as my favourite achievement of his, because of its utter unexpectedness – and because it shows creativity in a domain that I did not expect him focus on. It also shows genuine creativity and that is something many prodigies do not display (many of them just show skill, not creativity). Ainan is showing something more than that, therefore...he is showing the working elements of true genius, too – that is, originality and creativity.

I have always described Ainan as a scientific child prodigy – because that was his focus when he was very young. However, his mind has broadened over the years. He is now operating at a high level in many domains, scientific, mathematical and artistic. There is a term for such a prodigy: it is called an omnibus prodigy. The composition of the film score for Reflection, establishes Ainan as an omnibus prodigy. If you do some research into it, you will find that this is the rarest kind of prodigy, since almost all prodigies operate in a single area. Not so, with Ainan...his mind now encompasses many facets of human endeavour. I am left to wonder what he will become in the years ahead and what more surprises there might be.

As for now, I am pleased just to be able to listen to his music composition, on a daily basis when he comes home from University. It is, now, one of my greatest pleasures, in life.

Thank you Ainan.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:47 PM 


Blogger Alia said...

wow..he's such a big gift! :)

2:22 PM  
Blogger Alia said...

is there any source where i can listen to his compose music?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Summer said...

Wow Ainan's newest achievement is truly amazing. I wonder if you could release any of his compositions? It would be so fun to hear them, they sound like they would be amazing!

Something else I found remarkable was to see you regard the musical as a higher achievement than his in science. Good for you, I think that is great! I hate it when people hold the science in higher regard than art as both are equally important.. Leonardo Da Vinci is considered to be the greatest scientist in the world, and he combined science with art. Perhaps multifaceted Ainan will follow in his footsteps?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Summer for your enthusiasm (and Alia, too). We are planning to release some of his music soon enough. I will let you know through the pages of this blog.

Yes. I think Art is a higher achievement than much of science - for it speaks of the individual, too. However, the highest achievers do both. I think Ainan is on course for a Renaissance man like career. He has already stated as much.

I asked him a couple of months ago: "What do you want to do with your life?"

"What did Leonardo da Vinci do?" he countered.

"Everything." I said.

"Exactly.", he concurred.

So, yes, Leonardo is a good model for the type of person Ainan is shaping up to be.

6:08 PM  

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