Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Observation 1.7.5

Written for Rarescale and dedicated to Charles Morgan Lines: observation 1.7.5 trio for open-holed or kingma system quartertone alto flute, bassoon and violin.

Composer in residence to the observatory:


4 site-specifically inspired string quartets across four residency locations in two years.

'As a composer and painter I have a deeply held interest in the psychological and perceptual/emotional/intuitive associations between these two media and how ideas can be transacted one to the other. As well as creating four new string quartets I will also keep a video diary of the residency and creative experience, make sketches and paintings (on location) of the built and natural landscape features to explore transduction between the physical environment and sound construction transforming (intuitively) visual ideas into notation – landscape into sound.'
More here:


Observation 1.7.5 is an unforeseen extension to the work undertaken in the composition of the quartets as it uses material from observation 1 and observation 1.7 in new contextual relationships.

To find out how we can all benefit from adopting and adapting Marc's creative habits and practices click Here.     






Saturday, 12 December 2015

Asynchronously problem solve

The composer Marc Yeats writes asynchronous music, where each instrumental part relates to others not in a set and structured way, like bricks in mortar, but in a flexible way, like oil on water. 

Each individual instrumental part that Marc writes is complete within itself: a finished work requiring no support from other instruments. However, each part shares similar musical material, such as themes, rhythmic patterns and harmonic clusters, so when they are combined it is possible to identify cross-relations and connections between them, and (because the parts have been written as separate and self-contained works) these cross-relations and synergies can be intriguing, surprising and stimulating.

In effect, a whole new musical work is created whenever the independently written parts are combined in live performance. Moreover, given the asynchronous nature of the music, each and every time the parts are performed together the piece created is slightly different, possessing its own unique and intriguing cross-relations and synergies. 

The principles of this approach can be used to creatively problem solve. We can create separate, completely worked out solutions that address the same problem and have the same number of people working on them who have access to the same information, resources and budgets. We can then bring these solutions together, not to judge them and pick a winner but to experiment with them and uncover creative and useful ways of combining them which will lead to yet more innovative solutions or perhaps one superior integrated solution.   

Moreover, the connections and synergies perceived between the solutions will be heavily influenced by the knowledge, experiences and skills of those doing the experimenting (the people tasked with finding connections and synergies between the separate solutions). This means that encouraging different people to experiment with combining the solutions will inevitably uncover different insights leading to different solutions and different combinations of solutions.

So, the next time you have a tricky problem to solve try some asynchronous problem solving:
  • Identify and develop separate solutions to the same problem. Make sure that the same number of people work on each solution and that everyone has access to the same information, resources and budgets.
  • Then bring the separately worked out solutions together and experiment with them: find ways to combine them which will lead to new insights, more solutions, more integrated solutions or one completely integrated solution.
  • Bring the separate solutions together more than once. Invite different people to experiment with them each time.
  • Review the results. What patterns have emerged? Have any connections and synergies consistently appeared? What discoveries stand out as particularly novel or unique? Is a pattern or synergy less common? Why is that? Does it need to be explored and developed further? Would it benefit from a new and different team of people experimenting with it?

Then, just as sun shining on oil moving on water will illuminate a rich diversity of ever changing patterns, your creative energies will uncover a rich and ever evolving tapestry of innovative solutions.

Marc Yeats creative process is fascinating. To find out about it click here.                                            

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Here kid, read this...

'Here kid, listen to this...'

Ben Glass, the composer Philip Glass's father, owned a record shop. Some records did not sell. Ben broke up some of these records; this enabled him to claim money back from the manufacturers. 

But some records he took home so he and his son could listen to them; he wanted to find out why they did not sell.

He and his son found out why: the recordings were of 'serious' classical chamber music and music written by 'difficult' 20th century composers (e.g., Shostakovitch, Bartok and Schoenberg, etc.) 

But no one had told the young Philip Glass that the music was either serious or difficult. He listened to it with innocent ears - and he loved it. In fact, so did his dad!

The rest, as they say, is history.

When something is not selling, be it a record or some other product, or a service, or an idea or solution, it is all too tempting to discard or junk it and immediately start looking for ways to cut our losses. 

Often, however, we can profit from exploring why something is not selling. Is it being offered to the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong place? If we were to take it home, share it and think about it, rather than throw it out, hide it or dismiss it, would its true value begin to become apparent? If we asked someone with innocent, naïve eyes to look at it would they quickly discern its true worth? More than that, would they want to buy it and encourage others to do likewise.

There is value in taking non-sellers home with us and asking:

Here kid, what do you think of this?