Where Do Melodies Come From?

Article excerpt


This is the first of two articles studying unconscious creativity. In creativity, conscious and unconscious capacities are mostly intermingled, because in addition to creative inspiration the artist requires a wide range of specific talents, long hours of learning, training and other conscious elements. In order to avoid discussing the question, in each instance of artistic talent, "to what extent is there an unconscious component here?" I have chosen to focus on the one component upon which there is full agreement that the artist has no conscious control over - the composition of an original melody. The article presents the words of several famous composers, each of whom assures us that he has no control over the creation of his melodies, and feels himself to be only a vehicle through which god, the muse, or any other entity that is "not himself" transmits the original melody, tune, or theme. To my mind, in every talent or artistic ability there is at least one or even several components of creation over which the artist has no conscious control. However, in this article I focus on the composition of melodies as representative of all artistic talents and this is because musical talent has played a crucial role in my childhood development and consequently, I can use my own case as a representative one. Studying the problem of creativity has brought me into a theoretical dispute with Freud, especially with his decisive statement that it is futile to search for meaning in the manifest narrative. I, in contrast, have always had the opposite impression that it is the narrative, on all its levels, that is the key to the understanding of dreams, fantasies, and most works of art. To contest Freud I present: 1. Several of my own dreams. 2. A wide spectrum of recent brain research, showing the main developments from Freud's era up to the present. I have endeavored to show that these discoveries demand that we change a hefty part of our basic perceptions, some of which have until now been so self evident for all of us that they seemed to be beyond question. For example, we now need to question the unity of the soul, the prohibition of using anthropomorphism in science, and the attempts to abolish any use of a homunculus. I have recommended that psychoanalysis adopt the original view of the brain researchers Francis Krick (Nobel prize winner) and Christof Koch who divide the unconscious into two domains: the sub-mental and the supramental. The first includes all mental processes that do not require the light of awareness (the zombie agent), while the second domain includes all superior processes that are above and beyond the capacity of full awareness, such as creativity, problem solving, and insight. Concluding the article, I introduced a new hypothetical construct that I name "The narrator". Its function is to invent the original stories over the creation of which man has no control, including dreams, fantasies, and his inspired artistic creations. The article following this one will be devoted entirely to the description and study of this hypothetical Narrator.

A Personal Journey

As a child I was sure I would be a composer when I grew up. More than anything else in life, I loved music. Indoors, I was permanently glued to the radio; when I went out I would sit under any window from which I could hear a piano playing. I even used to climb to the roof of my town's concert hall where I had found an open hatch through which to listen to the music, and even see parts of the stage. By the age of 10, I already knew hundreds of musical pieces by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and others by heart and drove my friends and family crazy whistling, humming or singing all day until they pleaded for silence.

At home we didn't have a piano, gramophone, or anything else that played music, except a radio. But even when music did play on the radio, my family would immediately switch to anther station to listen to news broadcasts. …


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