Friday, 10 April 2015

Search for what lies between

Many regard Charles Ives, an American composer of the latter nineteenth and early twentieth century, as one of the founding fathers of modern music. Even now, those who choose to listen to his music will find it wonderfully outrageous and original: an alternative reality composed of sounds that are a joy to explore.

Ives’s father, George, probably planted the seeds of Ives’s originality. George Ives was a US Army bandmaster who had a very creative approach to the musical education of his son. He introduced his son to bi-tonality and polytonality, techniques that only the most modern of composers were beginning to use, and as Ives played the piano his father encouraged him to listen for ‘the sounds between the notes’: for the sound world within the cracks of music’s traditional structures, tones and harmonies.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Ives very much went his own way as a composer, seeking out sounds that had more in common with the subtle and complexly dissonant sound world that surrounds our everyday existence than the tidied up scales and harmonies of traditional music.

His orchestral piece ‘Central Park in the Dark’ is a prime example of Ives’s style. It creates a tone picture of a city park after dark. The atmosphere within the park is created by strangely and darkly harmonised strings, and other glistening snippets of sound and half heard melodies impinge upon this ‘sound of darkness’ as if from far away within the surrounding, ever awake city. The overall effect of this piece was revolutionary in its day and remains immensely evocative (and strangely attractive) for those who experience it today.

When we are looking for new perspectives that could help us deal with the challenges we face, it can sometimes be helpful to seek out the cracks and gaps in our thinking and explore the hidden but perhaps intuitively sensed ideas and opinions that we find there.

Explore the space between your thinking by:
  • Identifying what nobody is talking about or considering.
  • Asking what you and others are assuming is not part of the problem.
  • Giving yourself and others permission to express feelings and intuitions as well as facts and opinions.
  • Verbalising your thoughts and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Allowing time and space for partially expressed ideas to become fully discernible.
  • Making a point of looking for connections and links that others are not seeing.
  • Listening out for the ideas and opinions of those people to whom nobody listens.
 
To see the 'Creativity in the Air' workshop click Here.

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