Source: The Van Gogh Gallery
Thought for the Week
When you’re “a creative,” i.e. a person who creates original works of any type, you struggle continually to make something meaningful. Your art form—writing, music, photography, whatever—probably has some kind of “rules.” But following those rules, or breaking them for that matter, doesn’t guarantee a meaningful result. Does anything? Yes! And I can sum it up in a single word:
I’m guessing you want an explanation. When I was young, as a member of “the next Beatles,” I was constantly trying to figure out what made a song memorable. And then I stumbled on a singer-songwriter name Todd Rundgren who’d written and produced a string of infectious singles. Like me, Todd had sought to find that “something.” He found it, and went on to be one of the most influential music producers in history.
Analyzing what he found, I realized that literally all memorable songs had three rings, as it were, and I dubbed these “nazz” in honor of Todd’s first band The Nazz. Later, after spotting it in Van Gogh’s paintings and in a jazz ballet by Alvin Ailey, I realized nazz was the “something,” the bullseye for virtually all creative forms.
Creating nazz means creating something that to your viewers, listeners, or readers:
- Is unexpected, a melody that juxtaposes notes or chords in a way they didn’t anticipate, or a story with a plot turn they didn’t see coming (the transitions in “Yesterday,” the set-up for Les Miserables or ending of The Sixth Sense), and yet…
- Instantly feels “right” or necessary when they see, hear, or experience it (which means step one can’t simply be random or meaningless), which therefore…
- Surprises them, creating a sense of delight or fascination that lingers, and maybe even haunts them long afterward.
And there it is. Easy to say, hard to accomplish. But hopefully now, as a creative, you’ll at least have a little better sense of what that bullseye looks like. It looks like, well…