Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘Musical Creativity’

Lessons in Innovation From Songwriter Eric Carmen

Posted by Plish on May 4, 2014

I was listening to classical music the other day, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18 to be exact.  One passage struck me as familiar….very familiar.  That’s when I realized: All by Myself by Eric Carmen.  It was a song I had heard in my youth.  I don’t particularly like it, catchy as it is, though I’m in the minority.  All by Myself reached number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100.   (In 2011 it even made it into an episode of Glee!)

Anyway,  I thought that it was an amazing coincidence that this song had classical echoes, and then I read on how the song was written.  All by Myself does indeed contain the passage from Rachmaninoff.  It also contains parts of a song called Let’s Pretend that was also written by Carmen. Said Carmen, “I just took those notes and took it from there. I thought, ”Let’s Pretend’ was a nice melody.’ The song didn’t go quite as far as I thought it should have. I’ll go back and steal from myself for this.”

“Steal from myself.”  I love it.

He wasn’t afraid to take  a good thing and reuse it in another context – and in fact, the new creation was more successful.  Keep journals and notebooks of your ideas and inspirations.  Even if you use something, don’t be afraid to leverage it again – perhaps it can be used more effectively somewhere else.

Carmen didn’t stop with that inspiration.  He also borrowed from the Rachmaninoff piece.  Being that it was a classical piece, Carmen assumed the music was already in the Public Domain, meaning he could use the song for free.

He was wrong.

The Rachmaninoff Estate heard the tune, contacted Carmen and a deal was reached.  Carmen would give up a hefty 12 percent of what the song made as royalties.

There are multiple takeaways here.

First, Carmen  took something that was in the realm of Classical music and transformed it into a pop song.   That’s a pretty radical stretch.   This highlights how it’s important to look to other industries and technologies for inspiration.  After all, if an innovation existed in your own industry then everyone would already be using it, right?

Second, as the world becomes more and more ‘open source’, don’t make assumptions about ownership.  Lawsuits are very real.  This story has a happy ending.  All parties involved got something out of the deal.

But I still don’t like the tune…

Maybe you will.  Give it a listen…


Posted in Case Studies, creativity, Crowdsourcing, innovation, Innovation Tools, Musical Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Music, Art, Creativity, Nature and More – An Interview with Jon Anderson of YES

Posted by Plish on February 13, 2013

Check out this recent interview with Jon Anderson of YES.   (There is a sign-in on the page but you can click the ‘x’ and listen to the interview without registering if that is your choice.)

He shares perspectives on life, creativity, nature, music and more.

From the webpage:

Millions of enthusiastic concert goers during the 1970′s and early 1980′s had a marvelous treat on their hands, going from one progressive rock concert to another. Whether it was a live concert or gazing into the magnificent dreamlike artwork of Roger Dean or the sounds of Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Nektar or Yes, the music evoked beautiful images of the night sky, where we could gave at the shining stars and create our own “Wondrous Stories.”

Verge Multimedia’s Steven Zuckerman had the opportunity to spend about 40 minutes in conversation with world renown singer, songwriter and artist Jon Anderson who spent a majority of his career as the front-man of YES, bringing the audience into a world of beautiful imagery and ideas that resonated in the hearts of the band members.

Jon told (Zuckerman) that the music begins with the creator, and, in other words, flows through him. Composing and singing songs about the earth, environment, peace, love, harmony and beauty are not personal songs for the composer, but they’re Wondrous Stories (no pun intended) to arouse curiosity and confirm that as human beings, as part of this place we call our home, (we) need to be in balance with Nature, for without Nature, we are nothing. We are all part of the same material.

Said Zuckerman, “(While I) originally penned out several questions before the conversation, I tossed them aside to “just have a conversation.” We hope you will enjoy the conversation we had.”


Posted in Arts, Creative Environments, creativity, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Interviews, meditation, Musical Creativity, nature, Nature of Creativity, Play, Social Responsibility, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stuck Coming up With Ideas? Try the Brian Eno Technique!

Posted by Plish on February 4, 2011

Was reading this article on using flashcards as prompts for ideas regarding design.  Some great resources are in that article.  One that was particularly striking was the Oblique Strategies card deck by Brian Eno.  (For those of you who don’t know about him, he was with the band Roxy Music, and since has been an ‘ambient’ music pioneer.  He’s also the one responsible for the few second musical intro to Windows 95 and beyond).  He (and Peter Schmidt) developed this Oblique Strategy card stack as a way to get creatively unstuck in the studio.  You can purchase the actual cards here, but there are other ways to benefit from the content of these cards.

Text versions and other links to the various versions of the decks are here, and if you want a quick fix, click here to go to a web based version.

I just clicked it myself and the message was:


What a great bit of inspiration.  Because we all know that sometimes, in the midst of projects, when trying to get the best solution and the most creative innovation, having the courage to be embarrassed, to say what everyone else may have been thinking but didn’t want to say, to try something that’s already been done because you have a slightly different way of making it happen, to stand up for something or someone else’s idea – sometimes courage is the essential ingredient in innovation.

I can see I’m going to like this…

Thanks Brian (And Peter Schmidt)!

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Botched Blog Entry and Creativity via Suzanne Vega

Posted by Plish on October 9, 2010

 Technology is great, but sometimes, you hit a button and it sends something someplace you didn’t intend. This post is a perfect case in point.   I intended this post to go only to this blog (where you can read what I wrote), but alas, it ended up here, at ZenStorming.   

The concert was quite amazing in that what are usually heavily orchestrated arrangements were actually quite sparse.  There was a level of dynamics present and layering that made the three piece band of guitar, bass and electric guitar, sound full, lush and inviting.  When I saw Ms. Vega after the concert I said,

“Tonight the layers of dynamics were more engaging than the layers of instruments.” She smiled and thanked me and said, “We have to get more creative when we have less to work with.”

“It’s the constraints that make the creativity,” I answered.

Her face lit up, “That’s it!” 

A lesson in innovation and creativity even from a technological mishap.  Ain’t technology grand?

Posted in creativity, imagination, innovation, Interviews, Musical Creativity | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Creative in Analog or Digital? – Lessons from Barbara Ann…

Posted by Plish on May 14, 2009

In the realm of music there is an ongoing discussion about the value of analog over digital, or vice-versa.

As a participant in the music industry,  when digital came on the scene, I too was caught up in the hysteria – the quest for ever cleaner recordings, the quest for the ultimate music experience brought to us courtesy of the digital revolution. 

In this realm I was a slow adopter.  My first CD was mastered in analog but released digitally.  To some extent I still think of analog as warm and inviting, and digital as cold and truncated.  Nevertheless, I record now in digital because it enables me to have the freedom to record, experiment and release my music quicker and easier than before. 

But the argument rages on -what is superior, digital or analog?

Barbara Ann…

It was recorded by The Regents and made it to #13 on the charts in 1961.  You probably haven’t even heard that version.

The  Beach Boys recorded it 4 years later and it rose to #2 in the US.

The song is catchy, annoying, fun and definitely lo-fi.  It was recorded in analog, in the middle of a party.  It’s not tight musically speaking, it’s loose yet wonderfully so.  Barbara Ann is not digital.

Creativity can be analog or digital.  It can be fun or it can be truncated.  It can be the wonderful result of people doing what they do best and enjoying it or it can be mechanical and contrived – bits of dispassionate information stacked together to create something new.

Creativity doesn’t need iPhone Apps to be able to be done effectively.

Creativity can be done without web-based mind maps.

Creativity can be lo-fi; it can be filled with chatter, with laughter, with cooperation and brilliant spontaneous, improvisational insights.

Mindblowing ideas and staying power in the market, comes not from ultimate technical productions but from passionate people who create in the midst of their humanness and in so doing, connect with others souls.

So how will you create –

-in analog or digital?

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, imagination, innovation, Musical Creativity, Nature of Creativity, Play, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Creation of Music

Posted by Plish on October 27, 2008

I was surfing over at oddmusic and I am amazed at some of the instruments that have been invented! 

The Hank Drum and its derivatives are really slick!  I personally use a cool wire mesh garbage can for some interesing sounds.

Flipped Over Makes a Cool Drum

Flip Over to Make Drum

So the creativity exercise for today is to play with a musical instrument, or design a new instrument.  Who knows, you might be creating a tool that will increase creativity!

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, idea generation, Musical Creativity, Science | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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