The Boss

I love writing music because it requires such constant cooperation between my left and right brain. The right brain, to be clear, is our receptive, intuitive, emotional half; the left brain is our linear and logical half. So my right brain receives a melody, or an idea for a melody, or a rhythm, or simply a musical feeling that requires a melody and a rhythm. The right brain would very much like to hear this music. But how? That is when, like an overeager student in a class of one, my left brain begins hopping up and down in his seat, saying, “I can do that!  I can do that!”

So he is set to the task. Complicated orchestral music? No problem. The left brain likes complicated. More to do that way. The beauty of the left brain is that ultimately he is not judgmental. He does not care if the music is good or bad; in fact, he does not even know if the music is good or bad. The left brain does not understand good or bad. All the left brain knows is right and wrong.

For this, he turns to the right brain, and asks, “Is that it?  Is that what you wanted to hear?” And the right brain says yes or no. Then it’s either back to the keyboard or onto the next stanza. Again, the left brain doesn’t care. He is a tireless puppy, happy to chase sticks all day.

What makes the left brain upset, however, is if he is asked to come up with the melody. The left brain turns for his next assignment, and the right brain, who must be patient, says, “I’ve got nothing right now.” But the left brain wants to keep working. This is when the process gets ugly. The puppy can only fetch the stick, he cannot throw it, and so he runs off in search of a stick that has never been thrown, only to become exhausted and confused and lost.

It’s important for everyone to know their job. Creative misery is often the result of someone leaving his or her department and doing a job for which they were unqualified. You, the owner of both halves of your brain, have the power, like a great and benign boss, to gently step in, direct everyone to their respective corners, and allow the process to begin again.

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