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Jazz Stirs Creative Flow

Written by on April 2, 2018

If you enjoy unpredictability as I do – you likely enjoy that quirk or twist in a story…Or the topsy-turvy painting or a melody that freezes and suddenly returns with altered syncopation and new strong accents. And, listening to jazz, chock full of improvisation, can enhance creativity as you work on almost any project. Here’s how…

Jazz’s irregularity and impulsiveness may seem chaotic initially, but listen further and you’ll pick up distinctive syncopation that tickles your mind. It works this way… People have four distinct brain wavesbeta, alpha, theta, and delta.

Dee Coulter, a specialist in musical patterning and neurological development finds that the jazz of Miles DavisJohn Coltrane and John Cage can lift the listener into theta consciousness. Theta waves, considered the most highly creative brain waves, according to Coulter, give birth to artistic and spiritual insight..

Theta waves are slower compared to the more active beta and relaxed alpha waves. In deeper theta consciousness, people reach slowed activity, where highly creative states occur. While in theta, people’s brains shuffle down information and reshuffle it in new directions. During such flow states, people can experience sudden intuitions providing ready-made insights and new solutions to unresolved problems (Eureka moments).

“Jazz,” Coulter says, “is neither driven nor relaxing.” She thinks jazz is a lot like life since, “jazz takes attention in the midst of community and being able to respond without knowing what’s coming next.”

Intriguingly, Wynton Marsalis, the virtuoso trumpet player and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, explains, “Playing jazz means learning how to reconcile differences, even when they’re opposites…Jazz teaches you how to have a dialogue with integrity.

And, Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, points out that jazz takes us out of the world at large and helps us come back again, “in an orchestrated phrasing that prevents us from getting too neurotic.” Do you agree?

For more creativity or to wrestle gritty problems that do not lend themselves to linear solutions, Dee Coulter recommends jazz. She says, “You have to hold the beat to meander off it. Jazz’s level of cognitive complexity stuns me. Its sense of timing, jokes, repartee, attentiveness, respect and listening is fascinating.”

Smooth sounds of Wynton Marsalis or Miles Davis can move your brain waves into theta synchrony that opens your mind to a new idea or thought today. J