Composition & Improvisation: Creativity


Music is a living, breathing, diverse, inclusive, world-wide art form that is being invented and re-invented everyday…

Here is Frank’s core dump about the true nature of Creativity

Creativity is…

Happiness. Creativity is a basic human need.

Optimism. It is the recognition of and commitment to possibilities.

Preparation. Blossoms do not sprout without seeds and seeds do not sprout on barren ground.

Receptivity. The creative process is always a step ahead of my conscious mind and therefore can never yield to my control. My thoughts arrive without my invitation. My best ideas come when I am not trying. They think me, but where do they come from?

Surrender. Ideas do not come by force of will. I cannot control the process. I cannot command myself to create. I can only prepare myself to participate in the process of creation. If I want be creative, I must give up my ego’s need to control everything.

Initiative. Creativity cannot be orchestrated, but neither do I sit idly by and hope for inspiration. If I want to be creative, I need to immerse myself in a place where my existing habits are of no use, where my existing rules do not apply.

Risk. Creativity requires you push beyond your comfort zones. If you want to happy, you need to discover your present limits so that you can transcend them, and realized that they weren’t limits after all.

Collaboration. No one creates in a vacuum. You can only be a co-creator–with your inheritance, ancestors, surroundings, teachers, friends, colleagues, unique experiences and opportunities.

Fellowship. The process of creativity recognizes the profound interconnectedness of all things.

Gratitude. Having a talent, no matter how small, is a great gift to be grateful for.

Humility. The opportunity to create is a great privilege. Think of your creations not as your possession, but as your contributions–something not to be proud of, but to be grateful for.

Generosity. Creativity is the process of using your time, treasure, and talents to make the world a better place.

Authenticity. At its best, creativity is not about being creative, but about being yourself.

Happiness. Creativity is a form of happiness. When I create, I feel alive and important.

Inspiration. Creativity is contagious. When I create, I give others a reason to create as well.

Problem Solving. Creativity is often about solving existing problems, which is quite satisfying. And sometimes it’s about discovering and solving problems nobody knew existed before, which can be even more fun!

Hunger. Creativity is largely the process of seeking food for your soul.

Discontent. Never happy with the way things are. We can always do better. ALL of us.

Reverence for Tradition. True artists do not reject the past. They go to school, literally and figuratively, in order to appreciate and absorb their rich inheritance.

Cross-Training. The most creative people tend to well-rounded human beings– possessing the self-awareness, humility, confidence, openness, receptivity, inclusiveness, and resilience that can only come from a diversity of meaningful life experiences.

Learning by Doing. Creative people do not wait until they know how to do something. Try something and see what happens! You are guaranteed to make more exciting discoveries by doing than by merely thinking.

Self-Discovery. Your commitment to the unpredictable process of discovery has the wonderful side effect of building self-confidence each time I stumble upon something new.

Autonomy & Community. Creativity at its best is driven by a need inside yourself to meet a genuine need outside yourself.

Humility. There is no such thing as accomplishment without individual effort, courage, and commitment, but none of these are possible in a vacuum.

Innocence. The artistic process is a commitment to doing and seeing and feeling things as they truly are, not as you are supposed to do, see, and feel.

Self-Examination. Creativity is the relentless commitment to expose my blind spots and challenge my preconceptions, to see and hear everything with my own eyes and ears.

Love. Creativity is a process of service to something bigger than yourself and bigger than itself.

Discipline. Craft matters. The discipline to master basic skills sows the seeds and prepares the ground for creativity.

Courage. The courage to expose yourself to news ideas.

Continuous Improvement. The honesty to admits one’s weaknesses. And the willingness to work relentlessly in order to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Patience. The fruit of your labor will almost never be visible right away. Even though you cannot explain how or why, breakthroughs do come. And they come when you least expect it. The process will reward your hard work with a gift when you are ready and the time is right.

Redemption. After seemingly endless dry spells, plateaus, and setbacks, all the hard work is redeemed in a flash of insight, making all the frustrations worthwhile.

Wholeness. I cannot leave any part of me… body, mind, & spirit… out of the creative process. I cannot leave any part of my surroundings out of the process. I cannot leave any part of others out of the process. Everyone and everything is my teacher.

Humility. I cannot be happy if I attach my ego to outcomes. When I try to give birth to that grand creation, my masterpiece that will show the world how wonderful I am, I fail miserably.  Inauthentic or dishonorable goals stifle the entire process of creation.

Integrity. Is what I am doing necessary? Is it congruent with my core values?

Authenticity. The only way to truly be original is to be myself.

Curiosity. The curiosity to ask important and provocative questions. The more you ask, the more you learn, always.

Perseverance. Quitting is not an option. When you get stuck (and you will), there is only one surefire antidote. You need to do something about it.

Self-Doubt. Am I worthy of invention or is that just for those with more talent or money or free time or credentials than me? When I ask myself: Am I ready? You fail to see it all as a process. You fail to realize that you are not a thing; you’re a process!

Simplicity. The methods of any creative endeavor are really quite ordinary: work & play.

Work. We create by doing and learn as we go. The biggest reason that people are “not creative” is that they believe the myth that inspiration is only bestowed upon a lucky few. The truth is that work precedes and breeds inspiration.

Play. Just “messing around” often leads to some very exciting discoveries.

Abandon. When the process is right, work and play become one and I forget that I am there. I have no sense of my self as separate from the process. And there is no room for worry, self-consciousness, or self-doubt.

The Meaning of Life. Every life, well-lived, is an act of creation.

Service. Creativity, done right, makes the world a better place.

Responsibility. Creativity is more than a luxury. Creativity, in service to honorable goals, is a deep and sacred duty.

*** Does anyone have any others to share? ***

learn more… Composition & Improvisation: Micro-Lessons

4 thoughts on “Composition & Improvisation: Creativity

  1. Out of all the items on this long list, I find that ‘play’ is the most important ingredient for me. I need to feel like a curious child, otherwise I’m going to churn out melodies that sound like they were assembled in a factory.

    ‘True artists do not reject the past. They appreciate and build upon the past.’

    How true! I love this, especially since I like both classical and modern orchestral music. Film composers build on and borrow from the great musicians of the past. As Newton said, we all benefit from standing on the shoulders of (deceased) giants!

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