When it comes to creativity, some emotions are better than others. Or are they?
The amount of research and studies on the subject is impressive. Depending which one you grab, you can end up with dramatically opposite answers. It’s a general belief that the more intense you feel, the more creative you can be. Or, flip it around, artists, at least great ones, feel more intensely than other people do. A recent study
shows just the opposite: apparently, the more intense you feel, the less creative you get because your focus is narrowed to a specific emotion and your mind is not free to wander around unexplored territories. The study also reverts the belief that creativity is stimulated by positive rather than negative emotions. Prof. Harmon-Jones comes to the conclusion that it does not matter whether the emotion is positive or negative, as long as it is mild. Besides the fact that other studies
do not come to Prof. Harmon-Jones conclusions, I personally, and from a personal experience, totally disagree: last saturday I was rollercoasting between depressed and upset and certainly not in a mild way. The end of the day saw a new song for tenor and piano on text by Baudelaire (oh, surprise…). This was not an isolated incident: composing is a reflection of everyday life and how you live your emotions throughout it. Live mildly and you’ll get bland notes out of your pen.
But why do that when you can have no fear of right or wrong and listen to the radio in colors? Composing demands you to dig deep
into your wretched soul, accessing your emotions in the most primitive and raw way, being naked and unafraid. That’s where the common ground with humanity is. That’s why masterpieces keep talking to people after centuries.