Arts & Entertainment, Music

Developing Creativity

Yo-Yo Ma

Lesson time 06:43 min

Creatives are the scouts for society. Yo-Yo emphasizes the need to think about the bigger picture to expand yourself as an artist. Learn how to break the boundaries of tradition and blend the old with the new.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Understand the Old and Imagine the New • The Creative As a Scout


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Music can make us travel through time. You could be hearing something from far away, a long time ago, and immediately afterwards, you can hear something that's being made right now. And both are sitting in your mind at the same time and you can connect the two. If you accept the new and don't reject the old, that's probably a good way to live. When I learned the cello, I was taught in a certain style, where you want to-- [PLAYING NOTES] --vibrate on every note, so it sounds rich. And but with the Baroque movement, suddenly it sound-- [PLAYING NOTES] So that is a small aesthetic difference, but a lifetime of practice of vibrating every note. My goodness, are you telling me that what I've been doing is now worthless? I hate that. But try thinking about old and new as interacting. It's not one or the other, but both. And you vibrate a little bit, the whole world opens up. If you take sides-- I'm ideologically opposed to this-- you actually lose the benefit of what each has to offer. [MUSIC PLAYING] Life is a constant tension between tradition and innovation. We need the one to be grounded and the other to keep moving. And we need to remember that all tradition is the result of successful innovation. Thriving societies and communities are able to find a healthy balance between the two. The truth-seekers, whether they're scientists, journalists, artists, have a particular responsibility to investigate, communicate, and integrate the new with the old. I think that artists and scientists are the scouts for society. Society-- the center of society-- needs scouts in order to make the old and new not only function, but thrive. So the idea of having scouts is that scouts are going far away to see something that someone who's at the center of something cannot see. A scout could be on a very tall building and see further, or a scout can travel to someplace that's far away, or to see things through a telescope far away to a different universe, a different solar system, a different planet. But scouts have to understand why their discoveries matter and to bring those discoveries back to the rest of us. Having the ability to think and feel beyond yourself is essential. You have to be able to zoom out and see the bigger picture to see why your findings matter. You might do this entirely internally as a thought exercise or with the help of material extensions, like musical or scientific instruments. In music, the "Boleró" guy, Ravel, young composer with another composer, Debussy, they were looking for new ways of doing things. And as curious young people-- scouts-- they went to the World's Fair 1889. You can't travel around the world. Here's, the world comes to you. And there at the exposition were six Javanese dancers and musicians. The gamelan, these beautiful instruments that just are completely different sound, a completely different musical ecosystem, visual ...

About the Instructor

Likely the world’s most recognizable cellist, Yo-Yo Ma has spent more than 60 years creating meaning through music. Now, the 18-time Grammy Award winner is sharing that experience with you. Whether or not you play an instrument, explore Yo-Yo Ma’s philosophy for embracing music’s emotional power, expand your self-expression and creativity, and develop a deeper appreciation for music’s ability to connect people and culture.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Yo-Yo Ma

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma teaches you how music can be a source of meaning, connection, imagination, and understanding.

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