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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Improvisation on Chapman Stick, thoughts on creativity

When I was young, I was thrilled by each lesson I learned, each discovery I made in the course of my musical development. When I found a new chord I liked or composed a piece of a melody, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I was inspired to flesh out full compositions for each idea.

Eventually, I learned so many forms and tricks that I had far more ideas than time to work on them all. Then something shifted. I realized that I was able to easily come up with an infinite number of ideas and quickly. That awareness made each idea less special, and I was less motivated to develop them. My compositional output dropped, even as I became a more skilled musician.

At a more mature level, motivation comes from deeper purpose. Instead of working on ideas for their own sake, I consider particular goals such as expressing something or teaching a particular concept. Still, being more knowledge of all the possibilities, it is far more time-consuming to realize the ever-more-detailed ideas in my imagination.

I miss the pure, creative drive I used to have. I probably can't return to my childhood experience of seeing almost everything as novel; but I can just decide to sit down and create something with the limited time I have and learn to accept that it won't be perfect.

Here's a product of this effort, an impromptu improvisation on Chapman Stick:

This wasn't the most satisfying achievement, but it feels better to have done it than not. I still hope to find the optimal perspective and situation that will get me back to really enthusiastic inspiration. Perhaps I will find that in collaborative settings, in graduate school or elsewhere... But for now, I intend to keep making music where I am.