Sunday, 9 February 2014

Create and contextualise virtuoso teams

The Concerto Grosso was a very popular form of music during the Baroque period (1600 – 1750). It contrasted a small group of instruments with a larger group. Corelli’s Twelve Concerti Grossi Op.6 are a good example.

Each of the instruments within the small group played very complex and demanding music and the interplay between them could be fascinating and immensely stimulating, the overall effect amounting to very much more than the sum of the parts.

The small virtuoso group also presented new and creative ideas as the music progressed, whilst the larger group interjected regularly by repeating the same memorable idea each time. Thus new ideas were introduced and developed within the context of a coherent and re – assuring structure: the repeated theme acting as a milestone or landmark that ensured the music did not lose direction and become confused.

It is a fact that most great innovations and breakthroughs are seldom the work of one person. It is teamwork that put a man on the moon and it is collaboration between expert or ‘virtuoso’ individuals that will help us address the complex issues and problems that lie closer to home.

And it is those virtuoso teams that work within a reassuringly coherent framework that will maintain their focus upon what is important and generate the most valuable ideas.

The next time you are presented with a tricky or challenging problem assemble a virtuoso team of players that possesses the wide range of skills needed to address it effectively. Allow each team member to play their part in tackling the problem and encourage them to interweave their ideas with those of others.

Remember to set the team’s work within a recognisable context or structure. Identify the constant and significant refrain that the team’s work needs to be set against and judged by, and make sure that it plays a sufficient part within the team’s overall performance. Your team will then invent not only fascinating ideas but also attractive, feasible and effective ones.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tap into the unusual

The scientist and composer Dr Alan Lamb has found music in one of the most unexpected of places. Back in 1976 he embarked upon a long car trip across Australia. After many hours of travelling he felt tired, so he parked his car and after resting for a while he fell asleep. Sometime later he was woken by a strange sound he had never heard before. The wind was playing through the telegraph wires that were immediately above his car, causing them to vibrate and emit hauntingly beautiful, almost musical tones. Dr Lamb was intrigued by these sounds, both as a scientist and as a musician. He has subsequently devoted a significant part of his life to investigating how they are created and to finding ways of incorporating them into musical compositions.

Over the last thirty-five years Dr Lamb and his colleagues have recorded and manipulated sounds from ‘the wires’, even creating their own wire installations or ‘wind organs’ from which they can harvest the auditory raw materials for ever more interesting and unique musical compositions. These wind organs have been given names and have become works of art in their own right. They have been installed and listened to at festivals and other events throughout Australia and beyond. A particularly note-worthy commission came from the Japanese Government, which asked for a wind organ installation to be built as part of the celebrations marking the opening of a major research facility, the ‘SPring8 Electron Synchrotron’. The music has also found its way into the mainstream of film sound tracks, being used in films such as ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘Little Fish’. The sounds created by Dr Lamb’s wind organs were also the inspiration behind the laser gun effects used in the Star Wars films.

Some of the compositions created from the sounds emitted by wind organs have even become a national music of protest, giving voice to the strong feelings of anger many people feel about the damage large scale mining operations are causing to the ancient Australian landscape.

Opening the mind to the possibilities of the unusual and exploring them with enthusiasm is one of the major traits of creative people. The next time you come across something unusual, or someone presents an idea or point of view that seems eccentric or surprising, suppress your judgement and your urge to criticise or even dismiss it. Give it time and open your mind to its possibilities. Tap into the enthusiasm of the person presenting the idea and do your best to feel the resonance it has for them. Try to perceive it through their eyes and ears.

As you begin to tap into the resonating wires of their thoughts you may begin to hear the music of their inspiration for yourself. You may even find yourself, as Dr Alan Lamb did, embarking upon a journey that becomes ever more intriguing the further you travel and the more you pause to explore the landscape you encounter.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Collaboration and music come together - again!

Once again, my twin interests of music and collaboration come together. This time they have fused to create the 'Twtr Symphony'.

To find out about it, and the global collaboration it entails, click here: