Jul. 19, 2018

Pain And Creativity

Some biographers and others who write about famous musicians make the claim in their books that, with respect to musical composition, nothing can be created in pain.
This is their own theory because they've never tried it themselves; they maintain that pain leads to a dry spell in a composer's creativity, and the resumption of production of works after such a dry spell is the surest proof that a composer is already out of pain.
On its surface, the thought seems reasonable, and for those in the mainstream who have never tried to compose their own music this myth is accepted as fact.
Whoever is convinced of this is laboring under a serious misconception.
Pain, in and of itself, can distract and may slow a composer down, but it has no effect on the well-spring of inspiration, neither does it rob them of their compositional skills.
Bach (photo) was dictating his last composition from his deathbed during a time when he was in considerable misery and unable to see, blinded by a botched operation on his eyes.
The physical pain he was experiencing at the time did not derail his composing; it may have slowed his momentum a bit, but, the fact is, he began composing around the age of 15 and what followed was 50 years of white hot creativity, right up to the last week of his life.
Since he composed entirely from the mind, away from the instrument(s), and compelled his scholars to do the same, he required no keyboard in front of him, nor even his eyesight, to create a piece of music out of nothing.
Beethoven, for his part, suffered untold mental anguish as he gradually lost his hearing; much of the mental pain he experienced from that was the worst a musician could suffer.
If pain had any negative effect on creativity, then many major works of his, which included the 5th Symphony and a host of others that gestated in his mind for years, never would have been written.
The sapping of our strength by serious illness, the effects of noxious medicines, our mental state, and other factors can certainly affect how well and at what speed we can continue composing our music.
And pain is often associated with all of that.
But it has no effect on inspiration.
It can't take away a composer's skills or what's in their heart.