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Big data entrepreneur Allen Gannett overturns the mythology around creative genius, and reveals the science and secrets behind achieving breakout commercial success in any field. We have been spoon-fed the notion that creativity is the province of genius -- of those favored, brilliant few whose moments of insight arrive in unpredictable flashes of divine inspiration. And if we are not a genius, we might as well pack it in and give up. Either we have that gift, or we don’t. But Allen shows that simply isn’t true. Recent research has shown that there is a predictable science behind achieving commercial success in any creative endeavor, from writing a popular novel to starting up a successful company to creating an effective marketing campaign. As the world’s most creative people have discovered, we are enticed by the novel and the familiar. By understanding the mechanics of what Gannett calls “The Creative Curve” – the point of optimal tension between the novel and the familiar – everyone can better engineer mainstream success. In a thoroughly entertaining book that describes the stories and insights of everyone from the
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Most people tend to labor under what can be termed "The Inspiration Theory of Creativity" – namely that to be creative, you need exceptional talent (like Steve Jobs) and a eureka moment where you have a flash of sudden inspiration. That simply isn't true. Numerous studies have now shown there is a science behind coming up with real-world creative ideas. And more importantly, this isn't something you have to be born with. Anyone and everyone can work to master the science of creativity.
Paul McCartney has long been considered to be one of history's most successful musical artists. His iconic Beatles song Yesterday is the most recorded song in history with more than three thousand different recorded versions now for sale. Yesterday has been played more than seven million times on American television and radio and is currently the fourth-highest-grossing song of all time.
So how did Yesterday come to be? When interviewed for The Beatles Anthology, McCartney said: “It's amazing that it just came to me in a dream. That's why I don't profess to know anything; I think music is all very mystical." That quote, however, doesn't tell the full story behind this song.
It is true that the basic melody of Yesterday came to Paul McCartney in a flash of insight: G, F-sharp minor 7th, B, E minor and E. It seemed so familiar to McCartney that he went to his friends (including his songwriting partner John Lennon) and asked if they recognized the melody from some other song.
Drawing a blank, McCartney then took almost 20 months to transform that melody into a song. He was so obsessed that McCartney almost drove his friends crazy in the process. His initial working lyrics for the song were: "Scrambled eggs, Oh my baby, how I love your legs, Diddle diddle, I believe in scrambled eggs."
Finally, after nearly two years of artistic grind, Paul McCartney recorded the first version of Yesterday in June 1965. Music producer George Martin suggested adding orchestral strings to the background of the song but McCartney thought that was over the top so they ended up going with a quartet instead.
"Yesterday" was not a pure product of a light-bulb moment. It was hard, grueling work. But couldn't you argue that it began with an initial moment of divine inspiration? How do we account for that? There is a cottage industry of researchers who are fascinated by the origin story of "Yesterday": academics interested in creativity, music historians, and avid Beatles fans. All have worked to answer the question of where the melody really came from. The most enlightening theory of the origin of "Yesterday" comes from Beatles expert Ian Hammond, who points out that the song "is a direct evolution of the melody from the Ray Charles version of 'Georgia on My Mind.' Not only does 'Yesterday' share a chord progression with the earlier song, but it also mirrors the bass lines of 'Georgia on My Mind.'" – Allen Gannett
It's much more fun to think of creativity as being a lightbulb moment or divine inspiration but the reality is most creative ideas are more likely to be the result of subconscious processing of stuff you love and study deeply. What might seem like unexplainable genius to an outsider often has a genesis of one kind or another elsewhere. So if lightbulb moments are a myth, what are the patterns successful innovators follow? That is definitely worth studying in more detail.
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