Monday, May 09, 2011

Creative vs. Evaluative: a vicious circle

I'm constantly walking the line between the creative and the evaluative when it comes to music. These two "personae" fight for superiority in my own personal world. When my creative side has a slight victory, the evaluative side comes in to tear it apart, belittle it, and make a case for me never to take any more risks. I guess I could blame my whole personal schism on my parents (one who is organically creative and one who is organically critical). I suppose my situation is genetic.

It's much safer to be a critic than to be a composer.

But critics don't make music, and critics don't bring personal enjoyment to anyone, really. Critics have a vested interest in being right. Composers have a vested interest in the constant possibility of being wrong, because (if they are worth their salt) they do things that haven't been done before. If a composer does something that has been done before (or writes with the voice of another composer), a good critic will point it out. This kind of thing gives the critic a chance to give a tangible evaluation, and to put something in context. The job is done. The critic has spoken.

There's nothing that hampers creativity like having an in-house critic, particularly if that critic inhabits the same brain and the same personal space as the person trying to create. The creative part of the personality has to silence the critical part in order to get anything done, at least while the thing is moving from "concept" to "thing."

The critical part of me sneers when this happens. The creative part of me struggles to press on, because it simply must. The critical part of me can never win because it needs fodder in order to exist. The creative part must create, even if only to give fodder to the critical part, which almost always responds negatively. This encourages the creative part, in spite of criticism from the inside (or apathy from the outside), to press on.

The critical part of me suggests this isn't a new idea. Consider the ouroborus:


Anonymous said...

In spite of the 20th century streams of music philosophy and much more to the contrary, isn't constructing something so-o-o much better than deconstructing it? And at the end of the construction, you have something more than just another pile of grumps and moans. Keep on trucking -- oops, composing! There's too many folks out there who are willing to give their opinion on a tune, and so fewer who can make a nice tune. Let's be among the fewer. Nice company too!

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

Your post reminded me of this article on the neuroscience of improvisation.

"In other words, in the improviser’s brain, the area that imposes self-restraint powers down, allowing the region that drives self-expression, which ramps up, to proceed virtually unchecked."

Anonymous said...

Here, here. I mean, I really enjoyed reading your spiral of a piece of writing. It's very cleverly written. Anonymous writes a good response, which matches my approach.

Elaine Fine said...

Hello Caroline!