Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Creative mistakes stimulate the brain

This study of Shakespeare's linguistic innovations — neologisms, unorthodox syntax, etc. — and the brain is exciting stuff and has, AFAIC, everything to do with compositional innovation and experiment in music. As with Shakespeare, I strongly suspect that every major innovator in music has done things with sounds or their context that make the brain work more than usual and it is precisely that stimulation that keeps this music worth returning to again and again.

I also think that many of the methods, often game-like, of the Oulipo in literature, the surrealists in literature and the visual arts, and many composers, particularly experimentalists, are designed as efficient means for getting right into that more-stimulated zone, often enstranging the familiar through even the slightest shifts in the selection or character of materials or their order in time or space.

1 comment:

Algorithmic Concepts said...

It’s amazing that the creative effort is often limited by our fear of mistakes - the subconscious drive to follow an established form and/or route.

For example, you could not write a shareholder prospectus in poetic form. You could in theory, but you would have to incorporate all the warnings, which, in turn, would probably dilute the artistic thrust of the piece.

It is a limitation imposed by tradition and by the genre of business prose, which is known to determine the composition of a shareholder report.

As one of Clint Eastwood’s characters used to say, “A man must know his limitations.” This quote came to mind when I completed my “Meditation on a Theme by Purcell”:


As applied to the “Meditation on a Theme by Purcell”, the limitation manifested itself in the inability to properly carry the soprano theme through to closing, because of the complex counterpoint, which only a composer trained in that particular discipline could handle.

Thus I had to resort to the cheap trick of re-characterizing the piece as a “meditation”. Hiding behind the Zen-like camouflage, I could now say that the claimed form (“meditation”) dictates the repetitive banging of the theme without a proper closing.

I am being so frank about it because, after all, the creation of a reliable product is, more than anything, about de-bugging.

Just launch the beta-version (prototype) then iterate (refine).
Looking at the masters of the classical world through modern-day optics, we could say that, for example, Beethoven was very serious about de-bugging the beta-versions of his own works, and you could see from various sketches that his work often required a substantial amount of iterations to complete, before launch.