Thursday, 16 November 2017

Create a prelude to your creative thinking

During the Renaissance Age of music (1400 to 1600) and the following Baroque Age (1600 to 1750), composers gradually developed and refined pieces of music that became known as preludes. As their name suggests, these pieces were usually played before more complex and demanding music. Initially, during the Renaissance, they enabled a player to 'test the strings' and warm up his or her fingers. Later, during the Baroque, preludes provided a free-flowing intuitively structured contrast to the more logically rigorous and tightly constructed music (most often fugues) that followed. (J.S Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, a set of 48 Preludes and Fugues, is one of the most well-known examples of this.)

Bach's 48 preludes are notated in detail, but not all preludes were notated this way. Often, the pitches of notes were indicated but notes' durations and combinations were suggested by flowing lines rather than precise placing. This practice balanced direction and intention with intuition and improvisation; preludes were freely structured and improvisatory in style, but they were not chaotic.  

The use and the nature of preludes provide important insights into how we can enhance our approach to creative thinking and problem solving. Before immediately diving into the intricacies of a problem (and quickly becoming lost within a complex fugue of ideas and possible solutions) take the time to warm-up your mind and tune into and play intuitively, but also purposefully, with your thoughts.

Try the following: 
  • Loosely sketch your key issues and ideas.
  • Allow your mind the time to become familiar and comfortable with the look and feel of the issues and ideas in front of it.
  • Do not judge the issues and ideas in front of you; resist the temptation of placing differing values upon them.
  • Let your mind intuitively play with the issues and ideas. How do they look and feel when you nudge them in different directions and put them in new and different places?
  • Which issues and ideas seem to be related? Which ones seem to naturally connect, flow into and develop from each other?
  • Draw-out and sketch your thinking as it develops: capture the flow of your ideas and the connections you make. You can use your own approach, a rich picture or mind map to do this.
  • Lastly, look at your work. You have created a prelude to your creative thinking. What insights has it given you? Where are they leading you? What do you need to think about more deeply?

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