In December last year Paul McCartney hosted a special solo performance from Abbey Road studios and performed unusual versions of his Beatles and solo songs. He also gave demonstrations into how he wrote and recorded them. We were shown a rare insight into how the creative processes involved in those hit records didn’t end with the writing and performing of the song but permeated throughout the recording sessions. Even the methods of recording and production were ‘played’ as an instrument.
Strawberry Fields Forever began as a simple acoustic guitar song from John. All four Beatles and producer George Martin worked as a team to give their creative experimental best to interpret it into possibly their greatest single track with dr um tape loops, the mellotron (the first ever ‘sythesizer’), orchestral sounds and effects laden guitars. You can read more about the Beatles in this book.
It reminds us that the creative process should flow on long after the initial idea or spark of inspiration has occurred. It should turn into action, creative action that exploits the best interpretation of the idea.
It reminds us of the concept of experimentation and how out of controlled chaos come the best ideas. Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations. The limitations, such as time limits, budget constraints or even ability are often derided but they all act to force the spontaneity into the relevant form which is so essential for the finished work to be a success.
Creativity is like the chaos of a river, controlled by t he restrictions of the riverbank, guiding it through the countryside. Without the riverbank it would just be a flood plain, directionless, formless and flat.
What are the processes of chaos and creation that go on in your backyard? What are the limitations that shape your work? If you were to host an event like McCartney’s Abbey Road performance to discuss your life’s work, what techniques and serendipitous events could you reveal? When were the moments of experimentation that led to methods that have propelled your life and career onwards?
Creativity isn’t just that eureka moment (we all have those all the time). It’s the process that turns that moment into something new, something worthwhile.