Friday, 1 October 2010

Writing, music and creativity

I came back from Scarborough Jazz Festival as I always do, astonished at the dexterity and creativity of the musicians.

Now I don't assume that they get there without hard work on their part.  Most musicians don't spring fully formed as soon as they put a trumpet to their lips or sit behind a drum kit.  But even taking into account that hard work, then comes the leap beyond.

Amazes me every time.  And what fascinates me as much as listening to the music is watching the musicians. 

Don't you love watching a group in full flow, passionate about what they're doing and bouncing off each other?

Doesn't matter what type of group either.

Over the weekend here were a couple of drummers whose sheer pleasure at providing the foundation for others produced the widest grins on their faces.  Wonderful to watch.

Of course being a writer I then try and apply what I see in them to what I do. 

Writing's a solitary occupation usually so there isn't that shared joy.  But I know the satisfaction when the words flow in a way which is beyond the practical and normal.

One group I found very interesting, though a lot of the audience seemed indifferent, created improvisations as a response to Turner's sketchbooks.  Slides of the sketches were shown as the music was played and some explanation was given on how the music was created.

What clouted me on the head as far as writing goes was the one piece that had been restricted in musical terms to two tonalities.  The saxophonist explained that the sketch was only two tones and he decided to match it.  And found far from restricting his inspiration, it had produced more freedom than he'd expected.

That I can relate to.  As a practical writer for businesses I often find myself restricted to a short web page or a word limit for an artist statement say.  That forces you to pay attention to every word.

Strips away all the unnecessary fluff and focuses on the key points to communicate. 

I know a lot of writers who find that difficult but for me it's stimulating and challenges me to produce better work than I think I could.  This quote from Igor Stravinsky also challenges me every time I read it.

 “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”

I've had fun over the years in applying arbitrary restraints in exercising my writing muscles. 

For instance, write three pieces based on the same topic.

Or choose an arbitrary number of words like 173 and write a story that has a beginning, a middle and an ending.  Not necessarily in that order though.

It just turns writing into fun.... A game that a child would play.  And we need that innocent eye sometimes in what we do.

On a more serious note, anything that frees up how we write has to have a positive impact on our development.

How do you free up your writing?

Oh and if you l ike jazz and you've never considered going, it's always amazing value, cracking music and a wonderful atmosphere.  2011 is 23-25 September

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