Steven Maheu’s Elements of Creative Force – Part 3

This next post will finish explaining the basic notational elements in Steven Maheu’s Elements of Creative Force.  We will then get into exercises to practice the application of these tools.  By the way, if you are interested in the visual elements driving this vein of notation, check out Steven’s visual art on Facebook.

primary-elements-and-explanationWe already discussed the primary dimensions and elements.  In this post we will cover the remaining areas.

Color can be used based on the composer’s personal experience in associating color with music, as Steven notes in the Color section.  It is a common experience for musicians to associate color with certain keys, sonorities, or genres.

There are a few relationships to explore, too.  These are the ways that different elements coexist, interact, and oppose one another.  Linear modulations change from one thing to another, in a one-way transaction.  Cyclical modulations fluctuate between elements, and combinations merge, combine, and blur the boundaries of different elements.

It follows that there are elements that are easy to combine, but also ones that are not easy to combine.  One does not necessarily need to favor elements that combine easily, as elements that don’t combine easily can yield results with great diversity and originality.

There are a series of operators that allow us to combine elements and notate their changes, and this is followed by fully notated samples in this method.  While this may look like a foreign language or a physics equation, future posts will explain just how powerful this notation can be.

The last section to explain is the “Modes of Creation”.  These are the three ways that we create music:

  1. By idealizing and expressing overarching themes, archetypes, ideas, features, and concepts.  This is known as “impression”
  2. Improvisation is a real-time expression of ideas
  3. Composition is a deliberate, concentrated effort that marks the artist’s intentions in a fixed format, articulated and vetted by the artist as best s/he can

So, we have now seen the full expanse of tools to work with.  They are very abstract at this point, but we will be doing exercises to get to know this notation, and hopefully to use in our own process.

Happy composing!



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