The Creative Process across the Arts

AmadeusI’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about the creative process. I have quite a bit of experience on the writing side of things–I know firsthand the sort of effort that goes into writing a novel, how that differs from the approach you have to take when writing a short story, how to develop themes and plot arcs and the like. I also know a fair bit about the efforts that go into making a film: how the director, screenwriter, actors, editor, cinematographer, composer and all work together to come up with a final product.

And then there’s music itself. I’m studying Beethoven this semester, and it’s been really  interesting to hear my professor talk about the different themes in Beethoven’s music–how they’re developed, how they change from one movement to the next, how they’re introduced and how they’re resolved. That sort of stuff. I’ve always been a fan of classical music, but I’ve usually approached it from a performer’s point of view. How did the bassoon part fit into the piece? Yes, I’ve kept an ear out for other parts, but I’ve never really thought of music in the same way that I’ve thought about writing.

All of these thoughts have left me wondering how much the creative process differs across the arts. For me, writing is almost a group activity at times. Yes, I can closet myself away and work on a novel, not bringing it into the light of day until it’s finished, but even then, I still rely on other people reading it and giving me input so I can decide what to change and how best to edit it. Does that happen in painting? Does an artist take his/her canvas to a group of peers and ask for input on it? And what about composers? Do they have test runs of symphonies where they can decide what’s working and what’s not? Maybe other arts do have these sort of test runs, and I’m just woefully ignorant.

If anyone out there is a sculptor or painter or composer, would you mind sharing the steps you go through to create a new piece?

Inquiring minds want to know . . .

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