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April 30, 2012

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Clive

I'm delighted you picked this one up, Derek, and thank you for citation. It's a funny old process though isn't it. I wondered if it's a case of metaphorically giving the internal quality control inspector time off which then leads to two consequences (at least two) which are: a) the removal of an intervening level of higher order mediation with the consequence that what emerges is not necessarily unmediated per se, but which doesn't exercise an additional, burdensome level of mediation that would otherwise serve to filter or censure the activity; and b) the removal of the quality controller also serves to speed up the feedback mechanisms between those areas that are responsible for the generation of activity and those that receive and feedback the output, ie, the music generator and the auditory systems that feedback directly on the sonic experience as received via hearing. This allows for faster and more dynamic feedback and response cycles in a process that becomes positively reinforcing - and, with practice - becomes more ever more intuitive and automatic.

Which is possibly why alcohol (and other drugs) have such an historically renowned (if double-edged) role in helping creatives to unshackle prohibitive constraints that would otherwise prevent them from letting themselves go.

Derek Jones

I think I would completely agree with you here. When I introduce this to my lot I call it the 'Self-Censorship mechanism' (internal policeman is probably better though...) and it is so important to be able to just turn this off now and again.

I was discussing this with a colleague just after we had been doing a bit of final project examination with students. During the presentations, we were quite happy to discuss openly ideas and 'what-ifs' of some of the designs presented - even if these were terrible ideas - knowing that this is the way to do it. At points in this process, the conversation would take a classic 'build on the ideas of others' type path, with all engaging in a relaxed and hypothetical series of thoughts.

Later, we discussed how this might be quite similar to a bit of improvised jazz or rap - simply adding to ideas without any direction and certainly no shame if a bum note or two crept in. An atmosphere of non-critical, no blame, confidence is so important in allowing this.

Similarly, you need to be confident enough to do this in the first place. This, for me, is one of the contradictions in education, where right or wrong is seen as something that exists. This is the absolute antithesis of this process (where right and wrong can't exist).

After this, though, you still need the policeman to switch back on so that you can sort out what worked and what didn't. Did you notice that the Jazz pianist was actually very critical of the final results, noting that some parts of the work were good and others less so? That's when the hard work starts.

Maybe that's why the alcohol thing never really works - when it's time to work out what worked, you're too busy looking for headache pills...

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