Thursday, October 02, 2008

Keeping Creativity Alive

This is an interesting post from Fripp about Eno. The question for us is: how can we apply this to own creative lives?

15.13 In response to a question from an American writer, planning a biography of Captain Eno…

The quick answer is: Brian was right!

The question is, does knowledge get in the way? My own approach is: know enough to begin, but not enough to stop you getting where you’re going. Brian’s point was, Fripp’s knowledge was preventing us from moving into interesting territory.

So, in principle, I also hold Brian’s position.

The longer answer leads us into consideration of the backgrounds of the various characters at work in popular music of the time. There was the art school approach & the player approach: the two we’re considering now; with a third – those who were entertainers and / or wanted to be rock stars. The musical / artwork in that case being shaped outside the inner momentum of the piece itself and aimed at supporting the interests of the aspirant star / entertainer.

Brian has exceptionally good taste plus a set of working procedures developed from a different background to mine: (Brian’s is) the fine arts; and one form of his guiding principles are articulated in the Oblique Strategies.

My own background is that of the working player. The musician has guiding principles from within their particular discipline. The sense of form (arithmetical & geometrical) are comparable to notions of form within the (visual) arts. My own guiding principles can be found at the bottom of the DGM page. So, there are similarities & also differences; but mainly similarities.

Musical thinking has its own procedural dynamic – we follow where the music leads as it takes on a life of its own. This overrides any other procedural dictum or strategy. So, for someone based in musical procedures, occasionally there may be a divergence from the direction of a “non-musician” (noting that Brian’s musical life over the past 37 years now puts him outside that category).

Two points:

Brian has better taste, a more interesting mind & developed sense of play than almost all the musicians I have known.

A good professional musician knows what they’re doing, so they do what they know. This is death to the creative life.

So, working with Brian is usually a lot more fun & musically creative than working with good professional players (mastery in musicianship is necessary to go beyond the strictures of professionalism).

But, occasionally, there may be a divergence in outcome given the divergent backgrounds. I remember only one moment when an Eno musical procedure did not fully convince me musically, and that was very early in Brian’s life as a solo musician, over 30 years ago.
Regarding the specific example Brian referred to, I’d have to listen to it again today to judge whether the musical example convinces me now.

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