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Music + Creativity

Photo by Duncan Kidd via Unsplash

Creativity is the driving force behind scientific, technological and cultural innovation, and it can be considered one of the key competences for the 21st century [12]. The problems we face in our complex and fast-changing world more than ever demand creative thinking.

Creativity can be understood as a form of divergent thinking. Convergent and divergent thinking represent two opposite ends of a spectrum of approaches to problem-solving. Convergent comes from the word “converge” meaning “come together” and involves putting together pieces of a topic to ultimately lead to a single answer. On the other hand, divergent thinking involves the ability to generate multiple creative, original ideas and new perspectives. Divergent stems from the word “diverge” meaning “go in different directions”. This type of thinking helps you generate multiple possibilities and unique solutions.

Creativity is usually defined as the generation of ideas, insights, or problem solutions that are original (i.e., new) and meant to be useful [1618]. Creativity entails both divergent thinking and convergent thinking [1921].

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres; each responsible for a different mode of thinking. The left hemisphere of the brain is associated with logic, analysis, critical thinking while the right hemisphere of the brain is associated with Because of this, it is assumed that creativity is a product of the brain's right hemisphere -- innovative people are considered "right-brain thinkers" while "left-brain thinkers" are thought to be analytical and logical.

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A recent study shows that creativity is, in fact, driven primarily by the right hemisphere in musicians who are comparatively inexperienced at improvisation. However, musicians who are highly experienced at improvisation rely primarily on their left hemisphere. This suggests that creativity is a "right-brain ability" when a person deals with an unfamiliar situation but that creativity draws on well-learned, left-hemisphere routines when a person is experienced at the task.

As most creators know, our creativity is not always something you can call upon at the drop of a hat. Living in a world that calls for both divergent and convergent thinking, it can sometimes feel challenging to actively switch between the two. Sometimes we need assistance in igniting our creative spark.

A recent study found that listening to music can help inspire creativity. They concluded that listening to ‘happy music’ (i.e., classical music that elicits positive mood and is high on arousal) is associated with an increase in divergent thinking, but not convergent thinking.

Thompson [30] investigated participants’ performance on a creative insight task after exposure to music that varied in pitch height (high or low), rate (fast or slow), and intensity (loud or soft). Participants who listened to high-pitch music were more successful at solving the insight task than participants who listened to low-pitch music, and mediation analysis revealed that the effect of pitch height on insight task performance was fully mediated by the emotional valence participants associated with the music.

In conclusion, listening to music can be a useful and inexpensive tool to promote creative thinking. According to the research, songs that feel "happy" are the most successful in stimulating a person's creative thoughts. Creating a playlist with songs that make you feel good and taking time to listen and enjoy the music prior to getting creative is a great way to begin using music to stimulate creative thinking. One may also choose to play background music while doing creative work. Regardless of the method, it can be empowering to know that music can be used as a tool in this way when we need it.



What kind of music inspires your creativity? Let us know @healthandbass :)


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