‘restrictions stimulate creativity’

by Albert Haim

A provocative opinion from William Poulos in

"The anecdote illuminates a paradoxical truism of the arts: restrictions stimulate creativity. When the brain is forced to overcome an obstacle, only then is it encouraged to think of ways around it. Jarrett had to think of a way to make a bad piano sound good: surely much more stimulating than trying to make a good piano sound good. Any pianist can do that.
Jazz is based on improvisation which, to adapt T.S. Eliot, seems free but isn’t for anyone who wants to do a good job. Every jazz musician’s note choice is limited by the chords underneath their playing, because some notes sound better over some chords than others. The early jazz musicians who wanted to record their music had another restriction: time. The primitive recording technology of the time – the 1920s – allowed tracks to be three minutes long at most. In my opinion, this produced better jazz. I much prefer the solos of Bix Beiderbecke, who had only 30 seconds to impress their audience, to those of Miles Davis, who wastes every bit of eternity."

I tend to agree with Mr. Poulos. Have you ever tried to fix a piece of equipment but did not have the proper tools? You had to improvise with what you had at hand and challenge your imagination. Sometimes you come up with a better solution.


Posted on Feb 11, 2018, 5:38 AM

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