Category Archives: co-creation

10 Quotes from the big world of music – Music Thinking Quotes Vol. 1

For quite some time I am collecting quotes that have a connection with what I call Music Thinking (more about Music Thinking click here). At the same time I am working on a more systematic way to collect and combine music thinking principles. I am working now with 6 principles of music thinking: agility, empathy, personality, jammin’, score and remix. More about that in a later post.

Here are 10 quotes of more or less famous people with a music thinking connection. Hope you like it.

Dance first. Think later.  It's the natural order. One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz. If you aren't making a mistake, it's a mistake. I HAVEN’T UNDERSTOOD A BAR OF MUSIC IN MY LIFE, BUT I HAVE FELT IT. THE WORDS ARE THE IMPORTANT THING. DON’T WORRY ABOUT TUNES. TAKE A TUNE, SING HIGH WHEN THEY SING LOW, SING FAST WHEN THEY SING SLOW, AND YOU’VE GOT A NEW TUNE. ONE GOOD THING ABOUT MUSIC, WHEN IT HITS YOU, YOU FEEL NO PAIN. Songs are pretty easy. They are small, they are modular, they are about as big as a bagel. I prepare myself for rehearsals like I would for marriage. The best guide, in launching a new design project, is sometimes just to choose the right partner, clear the dancefloor, and trust our intuition. There is joy in repetition.

 

 

You can also find the presentation on SlideShare (download enabled).

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Creativity & Business Convention with New Job Circus

From 20th tot 22nd June there will be the Creativity & Business Convention in Cologne, Germany. The C’n’B (#cnb12) is organized in combination with the c/o Pop Festival – a nice combination of creativity, business and music.

I am happy to take part in the New Job Circus (initiated by Peter Schreck and Holger Nils Pohl) to present my concept of CREATIVE COMPANION and Music Thinking.

CREATIVE COMPANION

About New Job Circus

The world of work is changing fast. Temporary project-based collaboration with freelancers and specialist micro-companies is absolutely standard in the agency world and becoming increasingly common for companies too.

Against a background of digitalisation and other developments, we are interested in innovative and intelligent specializations, new niche services and “jobs 2.0”. The New Job Circus programme of presentations, discussions and workshops is designed to trigger an open dialogue between “small” and “large” organisations. One ring, 10 winning micro-companies, ample knowledge transfer and a myriad of networking opportunities.

The Circus is geared towards generating responses and solutions to the following questions:

1. What new job profiles are currently emerging in the freelance/micro-company market?

2. What new job profiles will agencies and companies be looking for in the future?

3. What kind of interfaces and processes will be needed to bring together knowledge, supply and demand and build up an infrastructure to support partnerships and collaboration?

Short presentation (german)

All snapshots from 2011 – Music Thinking Weekly

This is the snapshot archive from every week of 2011 of ‘Music Thinking Weekly’.
It’s easy to browse all the weeks including all the articles posted with the hashtag #musicthinking via @MusicThinking
More info on Music Thinking: www.musicthinking.com

Co-creation, inspiration and the Global Jukebox

Can folk music be a model for setting up a co-creation culture?

In his book We-think: The power of mass creativity the author Charles Leadbeater is talking about a relation of co-creation and the habit of folk music that people borrow musical structures from a shared tradition and taking ideas from a shared pool of multipliers without concern for ownership. A climate of sharing and giving leads to mass innovation often with an individual touch and not mass production.

With this in mind it is interesting to watch the development of the new Global Jukebox project, a tremendous collection of field recordings, of Alan Lomax. The folklorist’s archive of 17.000 field recordings will begin to stream for free very soon, including music from Britain, Ireland, the US, the Caribbean and the former USSR.

Global Jukebox - Alan Lomax

Although Lomax’s name is not as well known as some of the musicians he helped discover, e.g. Woody Guthrie, his work continues to have an enormous influence. For example the soundtrack of the film O Brother, where art thou? is using samples from Lomax. He introduced Pete Seeger to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, recorded Vera Hall’s Trouble So Hard (made famous by Moby), and his recordings will even be featured on Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming album, Wrecking Ball.

Besides the popularity to use this material for other musical inspiration it is also interesting to get more information on the system and categorization of the material. Lomax is talking about ‘cantometrics’, the term refers to a system for the measurement of singing style, like blue notes and sounds of animals.  The system was also applicable for pop music and he also developed ‘choreometrics’ for dancing and ‘parlametrics’ for speech.
The principles of ‘cantometrics’ are used in the Music Genome Project of Pandora.com a new automated music recommendation service comparable to last.fm and spotify.com

More info:
YouTube Channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/AlanLomaxArchive/
Research:  http://research.culturalequity.org/


Selected TED Talks on Music Thinking

Here is a selection of different TED talks. All of them use Music and Music Thinking in one or the other way. From psychology, to emotion, to technique – get inspired by this amount of musical presentations.

Schizophrenic violin lesson

Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician — and what he learned.

Making Mistakes and Prototyping

What is a mistake? By talking through examples with his improvisational Jazz quartet, Stefon Harris walks us to a profound truth: many actions are perceived as mistakes only because we don’t react to them appropriately.

Imagination, Emotion and New Experiences

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. With a great exercise on Imagination and Emotion with Chopin.

Music Psychology and Soundscapes


Playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices.

Research on the Brain and Music

Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation — so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.

Trust and Examples from the World

Conductor Charles Hazlewood talks about the role of trust in musical leadership — then shows how it works, as he conducts the Scottish Ensemble onstage. He also shares clips from two musical projects: the opera “U-Carmen eKhayelitsha” and the ParaOrchestra.

Music and emotion through time

The composer Michael Tilson Thomas  traces the development of classical music through the score, the record, and the remix.

Live Looping, Improvisation, ‘gestural” Sound Design

Musician and inventor Onyx Ashanti demonstrates “beatjazz” — his music created with two handheld controllers, an iPhone and a mouthpiece, and played with the entire body. At TED’s Full Spectrum Auditions, after locking in his beats and loops, he plays a 3-minute song that shares his vision for the future of music.

The is another one I can’t embed: José Bowen: Beethoven the businessman. José Bowen outlines how new printing technology and an improved piano gave rise to the first music industry and influenced a generation of composers. Note: you should also read the comments.

On the TED website you can find more examples when you search for the Tag music (there is no music thinking tag yet!).

Wishing you many Epiphanies in 2012

6th of january is epiphany day – the 12th and last day of christmas. The holiday is over and we can focus on the coming year. A good moment to wish you all the best for 2012 and hope that you will have many epiphanies!

Wishing you many Epiphanies in 2012

What exactly is epiphany, here is a collection:

  • EPIPHANY is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having  found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.
  • ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!
  • EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move.
  • DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realization, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realization in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.
  • In RELIGION it is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that a event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.
  • WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion:  The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.
  • HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realization of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.
  • In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realizing the answer to a koan.
  • BUDDHISM Buddha finally realizing the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.
  • WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).
  • EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
  • EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.
  • HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.
  • HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realizes he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.
  • The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.
  • Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

More info:
read the article on Wikipedia or just try the Twitter search for realtime results on Epiphany.

CREATIVE COMPANION on Twitter: @christofzuern

7 Principles of Holistic Product Design by Yves Béhar

There is a very nice article about Yves Behar and his 7 Principles of Holistic Product Design on TriplePundit’s coverage of the 2011 Opportunity Green Conference in Los Angeles, California.

Here is the first one:

1.  Start with questions, not answers.
Instead of trying to design a product from a detailed client brief that dictates the answers, the design process should start with a few simple questions. For example, Puma asked the question, “What can we do to improve the sustainability of our already very successful shoe box?” This question spurred an in-depth exploration of the company’s logistics, manufacturing, distribution, and customer interactions with the product.  see the other 6 and the whole story on Triple Pundit

I also added this principles to the Inspiring principles for design, life and more Mindmap on Mindmeister.com.

Some Music Thinking on Branding and Miles Davis

Although the music industry may use the term branding for marketing a product or band it is not used in the context of music itself. Though it could be interesting from a brand point of view to see how co-creation works in music. In many genres there are examples of co-creation from jazz to pop and rock.

But where rock bands would co-create in the studio and later just reproduce the outcome in gigantic tours without changing a single note, the jazz approach is different.

Recording sessions in the studio were rather an interruption of playing in clubs or being on a tour. So things that where tried out and tested on stage could be easily brought into the studio and studio experiments could easily be tested life with the experience of the direct response of the audience.

It is legitimate to call Miles Davis a strong brand that managed to develop, innovate and co-create new musical styles and genres over several decades starting from the 40s to the 90s. When you listen to albums like Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew or Tutu we encounter many different sounds, styles, genres and musicians but in all of the songs we hear and feel the ‘musical essence’ based on directions from the charismatic personality of Miles Davis. Although the essence is not explicit or defined by words we could see this as the brand itself that was co-created by Miles and his musicians.

In other words Miles the person is the brand ideology (mission, vision, values) and together with his musicians they were branding together.

Some aspects in his way of working:

Young musicians

An important role in the changes of musical innovation was the recruitment of young musicians that where willing to go where Miles wanted to be, or already had chosen a direction where Miles wanted to go. Miles did recruiting based on his vision and was actively looking for change of his own brand through co-creation.

Start with a sketch
Miles Davis self did not compose in the way that he came to a recording session with a fully written-out score. Most of the time either Miles or one of the band members came up with an idea or rough sketch that then was developed further.

In Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pur l’echafaud e.g. he let the band react directly to parts of the film that were shown in the recording studio via a big screen. Based on small instructions from Miles the band collectively reacted to actions and emotions.

The musicians did not always understand what he was doing, or what he wanted, but they trusted and respected him to make something outstanding. It was like: start with a sketch, learn together, build consensus for change and innovation.

Listen and play
Most of the musicians were talking about Miles as the ‘best listener who ever led a band’, he heard what everybody else was playing and with his voice and the ability to show new possibilities he was the glue to make it sound like a whole band. His instructions were famous in being vague, showing the right direction and also leaving enough freedom for own interpretation:  Don’t bang just play! You listen and you play!

Brand influence and the creation of new brands
“Everyone who played with Miles, feels a bond with each other” Herbie Hancock. Playing together with Miles was special and also inspiring to go on with musicians that had the Miles-experience in working together.

Bringing yourself in a co-creation with a big brand can also have a very positive effect on your own brand or personality. Nearly all of the musicians that played with Miles became later famous musicians and bandleaders themselves and created their own sound. Especially the ‘In a silent way’ players were dominating the jazz and rock development of the 70s and beyond.


The music of Miles Davis and the music thinking that is inspired by him can be a learning and inspiration for branding, communication, co-creation, new thinking about design and design of organizations and creative processes. Christof Zürn

Want more Music Thinking inspiration?
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Want more info on co-creation, innovation an branding?

Brand Together: How Co-Creation Generates Innovation and Re-energizes BrandsI had the chance to read an early version of the new book of Nicholas Ind and to co-create and share with him some thoughts about co-creation, innovation and branding. I am looking forward to an interesting read! Brand Together: How Co-Creation Generates Innovation and Re-energizes Brands