Home » Posts tagged 'music'

Tag Archives: music

The ante-war rock video – One (Metallica)

As stories of rock history go this is pretty impressive. Taken by the movie ‘Johnny got his gun’ the heavy metal band composed the song ‘One’ and used clips from the film intercut with the band playing to produce a video that has received an awesome 63 million times. ‘Johnny got his gun’ left an impression on me when I saw it in my early teens. It is shocking. It is the kind of thing a boy dwells upon lying awake at night, or head immersed floating in the bath eyes shut. What would it be like if advanced in medicine were able to keep you alive after injuries such as these?


66,397 comments is testament to how people view it.

64,925,677 views since it was posted on 8th May 2009.



Creativity is improvisation … Edmund de Waal on pots, netsuke, writing and his desert island discs

Fig 1. Pots, Writing, Music and on being a Smarty Pants

Listen to it for yourself. What intrigued me where his thoughts on the creative process.

Edmund de Waal
Desert Island Discs
Sunday 25th November 2012

On describing his pots

“Rigorous but humane –  I’d like that on my gravestone if possible”.
“The rest of the world falls away”.
“The challenge is always the same, what are you going to do next?”

On a very particular recording of Ella FitzgeraldMack the Knife – forgetting the words and improvising.

Ella FitzGerald sings : “What’s the next chorus to this song now. It’s the one – I don’t know. It’s a swing song, that’s the tune … Something about Louis Miller and something about cash … tell me … ”

“This is music as it should be. This is making it up as you go along. This matters to me because this is what the experience of making things is like. That’s improvisation. That’s when when you think you’ve  got it made before you start. And then …   it all goes … it doesn’t go wrong – it goes different. And then you have to … then you’re alive. That’s the moment of absolute aliveness. Which is what music is about … and about what I do is about”.

A course on creativity could be constructed from interviews and music featured on Desert Island Discs. Like any frustrated creative I listen to this and find myself turning to a short story or a sheet of cartridge paper.

(A netsuke of the kind Edmund de Waal shows Kirsty Young, a signed piece from the early 18th century, is likely to be worth £10,000 to £12,000.).

I  prefer invention over recreation.

Others I’ve caught on Desert Island Discs include

Grayson Perry

Another potter, form whom ‘creativity is mistakes’.

Creativity, Innovation & Change WK 1 (Activities 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)


What a fool. I always thought of business as boring.

I was a creative, an actor or performer, a writer or director, a visualiser. Yet beyond the antics of the undergraduate each of these can only happen in the context of a business: they have to be financed. Perhaps for too long I toyed unsuccessfully with the idea of being alone in a space with paints or pens (actually a MAC and a Wacom board).

I take notes, pen onto paper, while reading from an iPad. I will get home and find a box of books and will then read from paper and take notes on the iPad. My inclination is to have TWO tablets, one in my left hand to read (a Kindle if it will take the PDFs) the iPad under my right hand so that I can type in notes as I go along.


* developments so fast that they are unpredictable.

* expect the unexpected (Handy, 1991)

* increasing competition

* increasing pace of change

* need to add value through continual innovation

* globalisation

* creativity, knowledge & innovation over capital, labour & land

*growth in value of intangible assets


I can see that B822 complements H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’.

In truth this already is closer to what I perceived H807 would be as there is substantial use of audio and video.

Table 1.0 Innovations with major impact on human history
I want to return to this, add to it and include images.

Plenty will be available under Creative Commons and Google Images.

How would I define creativity?

Innovative problem solving (business, technical, communications, aesthetic) with the outcome a product or artefact that is unique and possibly challenging or controversial.


The arts and media, from TV to film and music, theatre, art, books, ceramics and sculpture to creativity in commerce with advertising and architecture. Even putting up a pedestrian bridge can be a creative endeavour. Or making a sandcastle.


Head turning


Problem solving (appropriate)
Novelty is relative
Lasting impact



In adverting a creative team, a copywriter and art doctor sit together to come up with ideas to sell a product based on a Creative Brief that answers the question ‘what is the problem?’ in this respect creativity is about solving problems, indeed movie producers and directors define film making as solving problems. Greyson Perry, the ceramicist, argues that ‘creativity is mistakes’, indeed creativity needs to be a challenge and a risk if the requisite innovation is to occur. For me creativity therefore comes from the desire to overcome a problem, which applies as much to composing a new song, writing copy or a book, designing a new machine, simplifying source code, drawing a sel-portrait, even making a meal with left-overs from the cupboard.

Creativity can be taught and engendered in everyone. The ‘genius’ is rarely born with a god-given gift, often a parent has pushed them to acquire and practice skills from a very early age. The successful ‘creative’ may well put in far more hours than Others, even possess a keener, more urgent desire and curiosity.

1950s an ability
1960s mental flexibility
1970s relevant experience
1980s intrinsic motivation
1990s work culture

(Engestrom’s ideas of activity systems are worth bringing in here).


Think about two or three people fro the worlds of:
Science: Prof. Brian Cox – his ability to communicate the complex in a clear and memorable way.
Art: Stephen Appleby – transvestite cartoonist. Caravagio, but perhaps not the Pre-Raphaelites. Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and Picaso.
Music: Bjork – weird and wonderful, Gary Neuman, David Bowie …
Business: Dyson – from the cyclone vacuum cleaner to the air-blade.
Sport: George Best – I don’t even follow football but at times his skill looks inventive, playful and in control. Some skiers and skaters.
Literature: Haruki Murakami – he has a voice of his own. Henry Miller, Will Self …
And any others: The Saatchis for their advertising in the 1980s; Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python Team.
Fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier – how he dresses, what he design. Architects such as Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.

QQ. What do I think is creative about them or what they produce?

It can be outrageous, it works, it solves a problem, it leaves a lasting impression. They may be extrovert, outrageous self-publicists or introvert, even quite ‘normal’ like James Dyson, Terrance Conran or John Hegarty (Bartle Bogle, Hegarty). They persevere, they are confident or know no better than to be themselves writ large. They learnt their trade from the bottom up and stuck with it.


Think of someone creative people you know, and from work: a friend, relative or child.

What sort of people are they and how do they do thing?

They are observers and can be set apart. They can be egotistical and rubbish at time keeping and the everyday and mundane. They think a lot. They draw upon multiple references. They are highly intelligent. They may be troubled souls in conflict with themselves and the world. They care about their craft skills. Are they performers of sorts seeking cognition as well as reward for what they do? They are the first to do it? They are focused and goal driven.

But the truth, in a business setting might be quite different, with the ‘creative’ in this setting the good listener and team player?


Handy, C. (1991) ‘The Age of Unreason’ in Henry (1991)

Henry, J., Mayles, D., Bell, R., et al (2010) Book 1, Creativity, Cognition and Development.

Tuesday 25th February 1975

I am 13 years and 5 months old.

I woke quite early, staying at an Inn at Barbon, Cumbria. This was the day of my music exam. I put the electric blanket on and listened to my cassette. I had taped what I needed to know. I had poached eggs and Chiver’s marmalade which were in small tubs. 71/2 minutes to Sedbergh. 11.00am we arrived after time with MM. I didn’t start until 12.30. I bished. (I hadn’t a clue what I was doing there to be honest. I’d come late to music and most of it was cracking the whip at school. With NO interest at all in music at home. No piano, no musical instruments played by anyone. My idea of the piano I needed an electric organ my father turned up with one afternoon). Lunch at Winder (which would be my ‘House’. And then the written exam (I had only passed my grade 5 Theory because the teacher/invigulator had done it for me. And home to Newcastle. (A few weeks later I broke my leg in a nasty ski accident and was kept off school for the entire summer term).

Not a blog, but the start of a diary that I kept pretty much for 10 years without a break and for another 10 years with periods of abstinence. Then along came the Internet and blogging, a public voice, a very different thing indeed.

Will I share the rest of the diary here? No! At least not hundreds of entries such as this where what I ate, whether or not I had a bath or had earache was the account for the day.

Interesting to know what I did on 27 of the last 37 25th of Februaries? Sometimes.

%d bloggers like this: