Saturday, 1 August 2015

Make an impression

Imagine you are walking along a cliff top by the sea during an early summer’s day. You feel the heat of the sun on your face, arms and back, smell and taste the sharp edged saltiness of the sea and hear and feel the wind rushing passed your ears. You see the energetic scurrying of the clouds and through the ground you feel the oncoming rhythm of the waves as they crash vigorously against the rigid, upright cliff.

Debussy’s three symphonic sketches collectively known as ‘La Mer’ impress themselves upon the senses of the listener just as the physical elements impress themselves upon us as we walk along the above mentioned cliff top. Debussy is not offering some vague impression of the sea for us to listen to passively. He is creating a detailed sensual experience within which we are invited to immerse ourselves. He is encouraging us to respond to his music physically by evoking sounds that appeal to our senses rather than our thoughts and emotions.

This is even more obvious in his famous piece ‘Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune’. Here Debussy composes music designed to evoke in the listener the very physical (verging upon the erotic) sensations experienced during a hot and sultry afternoon. He was so successful in this that some critics of the time accused him of writing ‘pornographic music’.

When addressing a problem it can sometimes be more helpful to do or experience something rather than to continue thinking or exploring feelings about it.

Can you put yourself physically into the position of those involved? Can you walk through a process? Can you build, draw or sculpt something that might help you understand and address the problem effectively? Can you create some kind of simple prototype to handle, play and experiment with?

Sometimes doing rather than thinking and feeling can create that breakthrough moment that allows the waves of creativity to roll in and broil around us.

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