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  • Writer's pictureTamsin Hartley

Exploring creative ideas

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Asking Clean questions is a great way of helping someone explore and develop creative ideas. The Listening Space helps to give structure to this exploration by bringing a person back to the key topic of their exploration (the ‘tethering post’) each time. It’s a process that Andy – a composer and lecturer at one of the Royal Music Colleges – has found invaluable in his work.

He uses Clean questions with his students to help them when:

  • they want to explore their ideas and get the creative process going; or

  • they are stuck and searching for inspiration.

He explained that:

‘We stick a tethering post in the ground for whatever issue they want to explore to help keep things more focused.’

He also has a friend who will create a Listening Space for him when he wants to develop his own creative ideas:

‘Usually when I’m commissioned to compose a piece I’m just given the parameters for the performance - how long it will be, what instruments will be performing - but they don't give a topic’, he explained, ‘and doing a Listening Space is great for exploration of that initial conception because it’s so generative. The creative spark becomes the tethering post and you can graze around as your ideas form.’

'For me, structured music works better when it has a narrative, a story to tell. Having a tethering post helps to make sure that the piece I'm composing holds the narrative and gives it a consistency and an internal logic. Yes, you can move quite a long way from the post, but you never lose sight of it. The listener might not be explicitly aware that this is happening, but holding the narrative makes the piece work better.'

‘There is also something about a Listening Space that helps me connect with what’s important to me, with the things that make me authentically me.’

Perhaps there are areas of your life in which using Clean questions and the Listening Space would help you to generate new ideas in a way that can be both highly resourceful and richly creative?

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