Bach's 48 preludes are notated in detail, but not all preludes were notated this way: often the pitches of notes were indicated but not their values in terms of duration, and note combinations (chords) were suggested by flowing lines rather than precise placing. These practices added just enough direction and intention to the music without diminishing its intuitive and improvisatory feel; preludes were freely structured and improvisatory in style, but they were by no means chaotic.
The use and nature of preludes provide important insights into how we can enhance our approach to creative thinking and problem solving. Before immediately diving into the intricacies of a problem (and quickly becoming lost within a complex fugue of ideas and possible solutions) take the time to warm-up your mind and tune into and play intuitively, but also purposefully, with your thoughts.
Try the following:
- Loosely sketch your key issues and ideas.
- Allow your mind the time to become familiar and comfortable with the look and feel of the issues and ideas in front of it.
- Do not make judgements about the issues and ideas in front of you; resist the temptation of placing differing values upon them.
- Let your mind intuitively play with the issues and ideas. How do they look and feel when you nudge them in different directions and put them in new and different places?
- Which issues and ideas seem to be related? Which ones seem to naturally connect, flow into and develop from each other?
- Draw-out and sketch your thinking as it develops: capture the flow of your ideas and the connections you make. You can use your own approach, a rich picture or mind map to do this.
- Lastly, look at your work. You have created a prelude to your creative thinking. What insights has it given you? Where are they leading you? What do you need to think about more deeply?