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God's Creation, Human Creativity, and Music Making
Creation seems to be delegation through and through. He will do nothing simply of Himself which can be done by creatures. I suppose this is because He is a giver. And he has nothing to give but Himself. And to give Himself is to do His deeds--in a sense, and on varying levels to be Himself--through the things he has made.-- C. S. LEWIS
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth! . . . and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning . . . Have you entered the springs of the sea? Where is the way to the dwelling of the light?-- GOD TO JOB, JOB 38:4-19 (NASB)
[The sounds of nature] are promises of music; it takes a human being to keep them.-- IGOR STRAVINSKY
Music doesn't just happen; it has to be made, worked out. Sometimes this working out is spontaneous, other times greatly labored and time consuming. But, in any case, questions like these come to mind: Why can. we make music and how do so many people go about making it in so many ways? Is making music like making other things? What is creativity itself? Where does creativity come from?
Creativity is not just for artists and music makers, it is a part of our humanity. Everybody, to one degree or another, is creative. Therefore a simple definition of the term is important. Creativity is the ability to imagine something--think it up--and then execute it or make it.1 In the case of music, a music makerwill imagine, work out, or dream up a piece of music that can then be presented. This combination of thinking up and presenting can take place in two ways. The music maker can think up the music in advance and then present it, either from memory or from some kind of a written code. Or the music can be thought up and presented simultaneously. In the first case, we think primarily of a performed composition and in the second, an improvisation. In either case, coming up with the music and then presenting it represents a union of imagining and crafting.
The quality of the crafting will be determined by the degree of technique and skill the maker possesses. Technique and skill are closely connected: technique is the facilitator and skill is the degree and refinement of the facility. As imagination increases and technique and skill become more sophisticated, there will be a corresponding increase of uniqueness, subtlety, and finesse. This is as true of the creation of a super computer as it is of a work of art. Yet creativity, technique, and skill often get mixed up with each other in the musical world. The making of music does not always signal the presence of creativity. If I am creative, I imagine a different way of music making than someone else would. I must then possess the skill to execute this difference. If I can only duplicate someone else's music making, I am not creative but merely skillful. If my imitation of someone else is third-rate, then neither skill nor creativity is apparent.
As astonishing as human creativity is, it cannot satisfactorily explain itself. Philosophical and psychological attempts to explain creativity are useful but only carry us so far. To understand further, we must pursue the connection among Creator, creation, creature, and creativity. Then we can better understand why we are the way we are and why we possess this uncanny knack of coming up with things that have not been around before.
We have two primary sources to guide us: the Scriptures and the creation. Between the truth of the Scriptures--the maker's Word--and the testimony of the creation--the maker's work--we are provided with the clearest principles for guiding our creativity. God is both the supreme imaginer and the consummate craftsman, the true poet and the exacting grammarian. What God richly imagines God also carefully structures. And with undeniable clarity, the whole creation at once proclaims its maker and serves as the best possible model we can ever have for our own creativity.
What do the creator and the creation show us then? How can God's way of making things show us more about our creativity and how we can be its best stewards? There are several concepts which we need to study.
Some of the most direct references to God's creatorhood lie outside the Genesis accounts, in the Psalms, the prophetic books, and the all-important passages in Colossians (1: 15-17) and Hebrews (1:3). In the Colossians passage, Christ is named as the one in whom all created things continue to hold together. The Hebrews passage speaks of the direct and ongoing relationship of the triune God to his creation. We are told that for as long as the creation holds together and keeps on working it does so only because the Word of the power of Christ decides that it is so. In other words, God is not a disinterested maker. God is directly and continually engaged with his handiwork. Natural laws continue to work because Christ is now saying so; the galaxies continue to speed away from each other because Christ is now saying so; we continue to live, move, and have our being because Christ is now saying so.
As important as the Colossians and Hebrews passages are,another passage takes us more to the heart of the subject. Theaccount of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-14) articulates a dimension that is foundational to any other concept of God.2 Moses was the first person in recorded Scripture to ask God specifically, "Who are you?" The response was brief and direct: "I AM THAT I AM" (verse 14).Music Through the Eyes of Faith. Copyright © by Harold Best. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.