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Nass, M.L. (1984). The Development of Creative Imagination in Composers. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:481-491.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:481-491

The Development of Creative Imagination in Composers

Martin L. Nass


Interviews with twenty prominent American composers have resulted in the conclusion that a variety of sensory styles, not necessarily auditory, are operating during the inspirational phase of their work. These include visual, kinaesthetic, and tactile modes. In some composers, their particular style prevails in most of their work; in some, the form of inspiration varies from one work to another.

The paper discusses developmental considerations and suggests that composers organize those experiences which deal with individuation around music, sound, and listening, and have a refined capacity to retain and develop body sensitivity and body experience and to use them in the service of their art. It is the ability to retain and develop early modes of experience which is characteristic of the gifted composer.

It is suggested that the truly gifted composer has the capacity to experience and re-experience early separation trauma in order to formulate and present new ideas and is able to stay open to developmentally early modes of thought.

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