Friday, 23 January 2015


Gustav Holst’s The Planets Suite is a remarkable piece of music not only for its gigantic scope and excellent, colourful orchestration, but also for the way it encompasses two very different ways of perceiving music.

The music starts powerfully with ‘Mars the Bringer of War’ and travels outwards through each planet in turn, finally reaching the delicate and mysterious atmosphere of Neptune.

‘Mars the Bringer of War’ is a brutal onward march towards a terrifying climax. This forward movement, the feeling of being carried along a path that leads to some kind of inevitable destination, is typical of the very linear way in which most of us perceive and appreciate music.

‘Neptune the Mystic’ is very different. The music flows outwards rather than onwards. It seems to radiate from a central point, reaching further and further outwards in all directions until those listening can no longer discern its journey.

When thinking about problems we tend to comprehend them in a ‘Mars the Bringer of War’ way. We perceive them as developing in complex but essentially linear ways, one aspect leading to another and another and so on. Our minds create two-dimensional flow charts of our problems that progress in more or less predictable directions. We expect and therefore perceive that past causes have led to present difficulties and that these in turn will have future consequences.

To address problems creatively we need to start thinking about them in three dimensions, in a ‘Neptune the Mystic’ way rather than a ‘Mars the Bringer of War’ way. We need to start creating holograms rather than flow charts of our problems. We must place ourselves at the centres of these holograms and imagine our problems expanding and developing around us. We will then be able to raise our thinking up and away from the constricting tracks of linear thinking, gain access to new viewpoints and benefit from the valuable insights they enable us to see.

The next time the onward momentum associated with two-dimensional thinking is carrying you away from effectively addressing a problem try:

  • Constructing a three-dimensional model of the problem or creating a physical prototype of a possible solution.
  • Imagining yourself at the centre of the problem watching it develop and expand around you.
  • Going to where the problem is, placing your self within it and experiencing it directly.
  • Imagining the problem as cyclic rather than linear. As the problem repeatedly swirls around you which aspects seem to evolve and grow stronger?
  • Identifying the energetic elements at the problem’s core that are continuing to power and develop it.
  • Identifying the energy hungry ‘blacks holes’ at the heart of the problem that are sucking in and devouring your time and resources.
  • Identifying those aspects of the problem that are expanding towards you and those that are shrinking away from you.
  • Identifying those elements of the problem that seem to link, entangle, merge and coalesce. What is the effect of all this upon the rest of the problem and your relationship with it?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would really like to hear people's views and ideas about music and creativity - just leave a quick message here.