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Darwinism in Creativity March 22, 2010

Posted by Roo Stercogburn in Uncategorized.

This is based largely on a post I made on the Subvert Central forums. Although the focus there has been DnB, a light discussion got me thinking about the creative process in music and how we help or hinder ourselves depending on how much we allow ourselves to be pigeonholed, effectively caging our creativity.

In music, I think if you decide “I’m doing this genre only” you are in fact limiting yourself. You’ve already decided you’re going to put artificial blocks on your creativity and you’re actually cutting yourself off from all that you can potentially achieve. The reason tends to be along the lines of peer acceptance in whatever music-genre tribe a person thinks is cool. So to straight away, you’ve already narrowed your vision and limited yourself. This might be ok for a time – some things are better achieved with a high degree of focus. But to continue this forever is to stifle yourself.

Purists, on any given subject, to me are just narrow-minded people threatened by change and spontaneity because it keeps them in a safe place where everything is familiar and very tightly controlled. Thats not to say people shouldn’t plant their flag and say “I am this”. I’ve already said elsewhere, we are the sum of our influences with our own personal spice thrown in. Of course, being human, staying where it is all familiar can become very boring. It also means there’s actually a finite amount that can be achieved before it becomes repetitious and similar, no matter how hard you try.

Following your fascination is absolutely the way to stimulate creativity. For example, if it happens to be DnB, go with DnB – but respectfully I’d suggest to be wary of being pinned down only in this one place. If you are making a living at it and have a market sector you want to please, then sure, stick with one genre. We all have to feed, clothe and house ourselves. If you don’t have a survival-related reason to stick to one genre then I would urge people making music to flex your creative muscles and just go where it takes you. It might take you back where you started but with a fresh perspective and the spark of excitement again.

Darwin pointed out many years ago that the creatures that survive are not necessarily the strongest or fastest but those that adapt best to change. I would liken creativity to this also. Without growth and change it becomes stifled and dies.

I have noticed on forums several posts from members where they discuss blocks on their creativity. When trying to create some fresh and new music they just can’t do it, but when they focus outside of the target genre, the music flows. To me, that just means the fascination is elsewhere. The person’s subconcious is telling them that enough is enough (for a time, anyway, not necessarily forever). Forcing it produces unsatisfactory results without that spark that makes the creator leap for joy when they look at their work.

So for Creativity (capital ‘C’!) to surive and thrive within us we need to change, adapt and grow or be crushed by repetition.  Perhaps applying Darwinism to the processes within us where creativity thrives might be the way forward. Single genre targets are a powerful lure – safe, structured and familiar. Stepping outside can be very scary and at first likely to open someone to ridicule. Ultimately though, being brave enough to change means that creativity won’t be stifled and eventually die.

Just some thoughts 🙂



1. Nic - March 22, 2010

“Darwin pointed out many years ago that the creatures that survive are not necessarily the strongest or fastest but those that adapt best to change. I would liken creativity to this also. Without growth and change it becomes stifled and dies.”

Great point that applies really well to the subject of music.

I immediately had to think of Madonna who keeps on re-inventing herself time and again and this seems to have kept her from stifling and dying.

I don’t like any off the styles she adopted but hey she’s still alive and kicking!

2. dsp - March 23, 2010

nice post roo, im one of the afflicted, but i have for the last 6 -12months been trying to find other music that I can relate to and slowly day by day trying to break out of my obsession with just maybe 3 genres, i have found it much more interesting learning about music i previously would of just not even bothered listening to.

Its still hard to break a habit of half a life time though

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