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Monday, December 15, 2008

Engel On Musical Adaptations

The composer Lehman Engel (1910-1982), a legendary critic of the musical theatre, was arguably the first one to develop a theory on the structure of the stage musical. In his book on the subject, "Words With Music", he wonders why some American musicals are more successful abroad than others. He comes to the conclusion that all depends on the quality of what he calls "the transformation" of the original material. It must be based on a profound understanding of the mentality of the country where the musical is exported to. "This transformation process is a far more complex one than the word translation would indicate, because the adaptor has the problem of preserving the spirit of the original while making no effort to achieve a word-for-word rendering. In my opinion, the successful outcome of a transformation can only be accomplished when the original material is indeed universal and the adaptor is sufficiently creative to see it through the eyes of the local audience."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dreamers Will Rule!

Most parents want their children to choose a "decent" profession. They shall become lawyers, accountants or software engineers, even if they'd rather write stories, compose songs or paint pictures. Aren't we all convinced that it is being a banker or a surgeon is more future proof? Well, it ain't necessarily so. To become a writer, a designer or a musician might soon turn out to be the better choice. For according to Daniel H. Pink, the "left-brain" dominance of the current Infomation Age is about to be all over. In his fascinating book, "A Whole New Mind", Pink contends that the future belongs to the artists. The "right-brainers", he prophesizes, will take over the lead. What makes Pink's postulation so strikingly convincing is ironically pure left-brain. Most linguistic or mathematical routine work will be taken over by computers or outsourced to low wage countries. More and more products will have identical qualities, and logic won't help people decide which to buy. That's why those who have the talents and the fantasy to design things, invent stories and combine bits and pieces to new entities will become more important, says Mr. Pink. It may well be, though, that their importance was so far only underestimated. After all Galileo, Newton and Einstein could have never revolutionized physics without artistic and holistic "right brain" imagination. It's more than a cliché that only dreamers can change the world. How nice that Daniel H. Pink enhances our self-esteem by assuring the reader that right-brainers are about to rule. 

Friday, December 12, 2008


"Making the complicated simple - that's creativity."
Charles Mingus