Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Build upon quietly dissenting voices

I recently listened to Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto. It starts grandly: with a muscular flourish the piano immediately introduces itself, and the orchestra sets to with music fit to accompany the entrance of an emperor (hence the concerto's nickname). These imperious sounds are played out and developed gloriously.

Then they are interrupted.

They are interrupted by a quiet, simple melody.

Then, almost as if the little melody did not exist, the music resumes its imperial progress.

Until it is interrupted again, by the same simple melody (which Beethoven has now gently elaborated, somehow giving it a shimmer of otherworldliness).

Then the imperiousness returns, only to be interrupted yet again by the simple melody (which Beethoven has continued to gently develop: sacrificing a little simplicity in return for added subtle delicacy).

Finally, Beethoven takes the shimmering otherworldliness and subtle delicacy he coaxed from the simple little melody and fashions music from them that becomes the emotional centre of the entire concerto: he transforms them into an exquisite slow central movement.  

Beethoven provides increasing space within which the dissenting voice of the initially quiet little melody can be clearly heard and beautifully developed. His ability to do this is one of the things that contributes to his greatness as a composer.

Noticing and providing space for the expression, exploration and development of dissenting voices is an ability that can be used to enhance non-musical creative thinking and problem solving. To develop this ability do the following:
  • Listen out for dissenting ideas and opinions, however simple or quietly expressed they are.
  • Make time and space to explore these ideas and opinions, especially when they are surrounded by grand and impressive ideas and opinions that demand attention and attract support.
  • Put thought and effort into not only exploring but also developing dissenting ideas and opinions. What are they implying and how could this be clearly expressed? What is their potential? For what could they form the foundations? To what uses could they be put? What do other people think of the ideas and opinions? How do other people see them being developed and used? What can you and others do to make all these developments and uses a reality? What is the first thing you and others can do to develop these ideas and opinions? What skills, knowledge and resources will you need?
Do not allow the potential of quietly expressed dissenting voices to be swept away by the prevailing moods and interests surrounding them.

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