Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mix the unrepeatable with the repeatable

"I can sculpt with sound, using musician's personal languages to create a composition that could not exist in any other situation."

John Zorn from The Muse That Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process by Ann McCutchan

The composer John Zorn likes to work with musicians who improvise, capturing their unique and unrepeatable sounds and mixing them with what he can write down, capture and repeat.

This entanglement of exactness and improvisation creates pieces that are, quite literally, of their time: only able to exist in one particular way at one particular time in one particular place.

This imbues Zorn's pieces with an immediacy: a freshness and a sense of being a one-time happening of special significance to all involved in or witnessing it. Players and audience alike tune into the music that much more, enjoy it that much more, work that much more at making the whole experience as successful and memorable as possible.

And they invariably succeed.

This mixing of the unrepeatable with the repeatable is key to creating not only memorably successful musical moments but also memorably successful ideas and solutions.

Many problems, situations or challenges possess their own uniqueness: their own mix of people, events, characteristics and countless other things that will entangle and interact to produce distinctive, unrepeatable tones and flavours.

This is why a solution that works in one place may not work when applied to another that is seemingly similar: the subtle, sometimes not so subtle, overtones and flavours of the new context being sufficiently different to make the difference between success and failure.

To create memorably successful solutions allow the unique, unrepeatable and often ever changing tones and flavours of a problem, situation or challenge to penetrate into your clearly laid out ideas and approaches for solving things.

Do not assume that what worked in one situation will automatically work when applied to a similar situation elsewhere. Work at exposing your idea to the elements of the new situation to see if it will take and be taken: to see if it will tangle up with and grow within the new environment and interact effectively with the people and things present there.

See if being soaked and stained with the flavours and tones of a context or situation makes your idea more readily and effectively, even enthusiastically, accepted, adopted and adapted.

Encourage people to:
  • Describe and present your idea in their own ways using their own words.
  • Play with and rearrange your idea using their unique knowledge and skills and the resources they have to hand.
  • Expose your idea to the dynamic elements of their problem or situation to see how it 'weathers' and reacts.
  • Adapt your idea to their preferences and needs and to the demands of their specific 'climates' and situations.

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