What is it that makes one ‘creative’? Is it a biological tendency to use one side of the brain more than the other? Is it due to being raised in a house of music, literature, and art? Or is it a personal drive to express oneself in a free and different way? I suppose it is different for everyone, and it is this difference that fascinates me.
I find myself to be somewhat of an amateur poet – I have folders, both real and digital, of poems and scratchings that relate to parts of my life that I found unable to express except through carefully chosen words on a few lines. Some of these poems were written on a whim, sitting on a bench and observing the birds singing in the blossom trees. Others took months of precise tweaking and focus on structure, to give a sense not only of emotion, but of literary understanding. But for me, the process of being creative with words is understandable; I read a lot as a child, have a fairly extensive vocabulary, and so feel able to place words next to each other in a way that is pleasing as well as evocative of emotion.
In conversation with a musician, however, I found myself bewildered at how original composition comes around. For my fairly logical mind, I cannot see how one even begins at a piano to place chords and notes together and create some of the most beautiful music. Where does this come from? I definitely think that there is such a thing as a ‘creatively gifted mind’. I am creative with words, that’s true, but a lot of that comes from academia – I don’t think I have the fundamental feeling for music that would allow me to compose pieces with no starting point. It seems that within the ‘natural’ musician is a freedom and ability to express in such a way that surpasses language – the way one feels when listening to a particularly moving piece of music can seldom if ever be recreated when listening to a poem, regardless of the level of emotion within the words. Obviously when one is highly trained in the practice of a certain instrument, the understanding of music theory and the structure of notes provides some framework to composition, but it does appear to be a more free-flowing form of improvisation.
Does this make one form of creation ‘better’ or more emotional than the other? I think not; because when we take music and poetry and put them together, suddenly we have song. And that combination can prove incredibly stirring, in a way that either element on its own could not have achieved. I can’t help but feel a romanticised longing to be able to sit at a piano and have the ability and inspiration to play something beautiful; but for now, I will continue to sit on benches, and relate to the world through pencil and paper, and see what music my words can make.