How to be creative?
As an organist who composes music, I often come to realize the importance of creativity in this process (I hope you do, too). The other day I was struggling to find interesting and original ideas for my Organ Mass for the 30th Sunday I'm currently working on. In order for you to understand what it means to be truly creative, I'd like to share with you this story which I hope can inspire to take action and to create something.
You see, my intent was to create 11 pieces (Prelude, Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion, and Postlude) to be performed on the small 19th century organ in Mosedis (in the northern part of Lithuania).
As I was thinking about the style of these pieces, the issue of creativity was very close to me. On the one hand I was thinking about my future listeners in Mosedis and what they could appreciate. On the other hand I understood that their experiences would limit my imagination, creativity, and originality.
It was really difficult to decide on the style of these compositions. I even had to look at the examples of my favorite French modern composers, such as Guillou, Langlais, Messiaen among others. If you know any of my pieces, you might see why I like to create using the modes and colors that the French school favored.
But then the question of the instrument came into my mind. This is rather small 2 manual 19th century organ from the German Romantic tradition with just a few foundational pedal stops, lots of strings and flutes at 8' pitch level.
Obviously the question about the French style working for this type of instrument would become a little complicated. But it could be done, I'm sure. However, I decided to stick with what this instrument likes best - the Romantic style with lots of modulations to closely related and distant keys.
Most importantly I tried not to take too much time into thinking and planning. Of course, I had to do some sketching with the time signatures and keys, but it only took me about 10 minutes. And so little by little these pieces began to appear.
One of the worst things in this creative process is too much planning and preparatory work which may take weeks and months. Only a few people can survive that long without seeing at least a partial result.
But the thing that's fascinates me about it is that when you actually sit down and do the work, the creativity will strike, sooner or later. Maybe not right away, but if you insist and create a little habit of actually sitting and doing the creative work as opposed to just wishing, dreaming, planning, talking about it or even whining, it will happen.
Every person who wants to find his or her unique style has to find a unique path. But it will only happen if we take action. And taking action rises from motivation. Motivation comes from the desire to make change happen.
So if you want to be creative but don't know how or think that it's not for you ("it's for other people who are creative"), simply sit down and start writing something for the initial 4 measures. It could be a melody (a theme) in any key, with any meter and rhythm. There are countless options. Just pick one.
Of course, you will be limited by your theoretical knowledge. But don't worry about it right now, simply use what you know.
Sure, it may not be great at first but trust me, if you continue writing this way for 4 weeks, at the end of the month you will have 120 measures worth of music (that's about 5 minutes in length).
And after about 2 weeks, it will begin to feel like you really like this process. So you only really have to force yourself to work for this time. Later it will become easier and it will give you much pleasure. In fact, you will feel pleasure after creating these 4 measures already.
Here is a post worth reading about creativity from Steven Pressfield. He is a worldwide authority on this topic.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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