Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Herbie Hancock: Breaking the Rules | Mahindra Humanities Center

Every year after carnival, there are official and unofficial post mortems of the festival, and every year the cries get louder and louder as to the uncreative desert that seems to be expanding like the Sahara across the geography of Trinidad’s carnival, and her satellite carnivals.

At a recent UTT post mortem I attended there were observations made by some of the masters students on the lack of creativity in mas and music, the unoriginal concepts in design, and the various effects this was having on the festival, like the ominous elephant that the empty north stand has become.

Thinking about the problem post independent, post oil boom, generations are having with creativity across the carnival landscape, it is clear that we lost the creative edge. Creative and critical thinking seems to be a rarity in a society where it was once abundant. In an age when access to knowledge and information, is at our fingertips at almost any second of the day to help build on creative expressions, we have gotten stuck in the business language of spin, 'service', and 'experience', forgetting that creativity is what filled the stands in our recent past.

In the lecture 'breaking the rules', Jazz pioneer Herbie Hancock talks about breaking the rules as an avenue to creativity.  In a society like Trinidad's where rules and laws are broken on a daily basis it’s ironic that when it comes to mas and creative thinking, there are, or seem to be unwritten rules that ‘designers’ appear to be both  limited  and defined by.

In this era of  universal education, and a  growing middle class, the society is clearly not producing pioneers like before, designers today seem to lack the courage and imagination  to create new passages, or even develop on older traditions, our traditional mas seems to have no direct attachment or influence to our modern ‘expression’ and therefore has nothing to stand on except for repetition.

Hancock  explores these avenues in this lecture, he says breaking the rules was an essential part of his creative development. Observation and study of the environment can provide all the tools for new expressions in creativity, shattering the written and unwritten rules of the old yet building and reconstructing on some of the very foundations. George Bailey and David Rudder did it, The Mighty Sparrow , Peter Minshall, and recently  Machel Montanto all broke the unwritten rules and excelled, what’s stopping the rest?

Listen, learn, and enjoy.

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