His technique entailed taking musical ideas and changing them, sometimes radically, in order to explore different emotional, psychological and philosophical perspectives.
Liszt’s Faust Symphonie (based on Goethe’s famous work) makes extensive use of thematic transformation. Liszt introduces us to Faust and the other characters (Gretchen and Mephistopheles), giving them their own musical themes. He then gradually transforms each of them through music, depicting the physical, psychological and emotional experiences and traumas of each protagonist.
Interestingly, it is inaccurate to say that all the characters are given their own musical themes. Mephistopheles, the Devil, does not have any musical themes of his own but distorted, disfigured versions of Faust’s own musical themes, suggesting strongly that we all have our own devils within us.
Applying the above principle of transformation can help us to better understand and address many of the problems that we face in our lives and work. When next considering a problem ask the following types of questions:
- How is the problem viewed through the eyes of others?
- How does exploring and appreciating these differing perspectives transform the problem?
- How do the views of staff, managers and board members transform the problem?
- How do the views of customers and stakeholders transform the problem?
- How do the views of your children transform the problem?
- How do the views of your partner transform the problem?
- How do the views of your parents transform the problem?
- How do the views of your friends and enemies transform the problem?
- How do the views of others not directly involved transform the problem?
- How does simply discussing the problem transform its nature?
- How does the passing of time transform the problem?
- How could the problem be transformed into the foundations of a solution?
- How could the perfect solution be distorted into new problems and difficulties?
- How does context and environment transform the problem?
- How does distancing yourself from the problem transform it?
- How does placing yourself within the problem transform it?
Transforming a problem by exploring and appreciating it from differing perspectives can help us discover innovative, mould breaking solutions.