A third criteria

September 27th, 2011

I wrote earlier about the two essential criteria for judging whether something is creative.

After I wrote the post, I began to get a feeling, a nagging sensation, that I was still missing something.

And then it came to me.

Of course.

The very idea of creativity presupposes that there’s a creator behind it.

That explains why a random collection of events or objects cannot be considered to be creative because there’s no evidence of a creator’s hand behind it.

And it debunks my earlier assertion that 4’33” is not creative.

Well, maybe not entirely.

If I were to go with just the earlier two definitions of newness and value, I still hold that it is not creative because it lacks aesthetic value (for me).

But if we consider its value not from the aesthetic standpoint, but from a philosophical one, it does fulfill all three conditions for creativity.

First, it is new.

Second, it has value from a philosophical standpoint. (It opens up our minds to what may or may not be considered music.)

Third, there’s a deliberate hand behind it.

And how about the other well-known artist with similar anarchistic tendencies, Jackson Pollock?

Can we consider his paintings to be creative because they seem be produced so randomly (by splashing paint on a canvas)?

When we consider that there’re an infinite number of ways to splash paint on a canvas, the fact he chooses one over another suggests that there’s deliberateness behind his actions, and that fulfills the criteria of deliberateness.

I love the sound of waves splashing on the shore. Or rain on the roof.

And watching the sun set over a smog-filled cityscape.

Do they fulfill the three conditions of creativity?

Newness? Value? Creator?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

2 Responses to “A third criteria”

  1. Douglas Seth Says:

    Which begs the question, for many classical guitar performances, how much creativity actually exists?

    If one does not write the piece, a unique and individual interpretation is really the only thing that can set it apart from others. Many classical guitarists are following their teacher’s advice or someone elses interpretation. This is not to say there is absolutely no creative involved, but certainly a controlled amount. Many times interpretation in classical guitar becomes such intellectual exercise that causes many lose touch with the intuitive side of music making.

    Unfortunately, classical guitar is a niche market and most of the repertoire has little to no value for the average person.

    If one does not write the piece, without a unique interpretation, it fails the newness and creator test. Perhaps classical guitar is the least creative of all guitar styles unless you are writing new music or creating truly groundbreaking interpretations. However, it is a relatively easy way for someone to play beautiful music. All this said, almost nothing touches more than a great classical guitar performance.

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    Yes, classical guitar is a niche market, unfortunately. And much of the repertoire is indeed very specialized. About the only thing that keeps us entranced with it is its sound — as you said, nothing touches more than a great CG performance.

    About the term creator, I used it loosely here, to mean deliberateness, a hand behind the action, as opposed to just some random event happening by itself. Playing guitar requires a ‘creator,’ someone to pluck the strings, so that does fulfill the condition.

    It’s hard to come up with ‘new and groundbreaking’ interpretations all the time. I think as long as someone follows his/her heart and passion and not follow some fixed model slavishly, that interpretation will be new and fresh.

Leave a Reply