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TEDx[Canarias]-[Benito Cabrera]-[03/01/10]

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Those of us from this island, live in a small archipelago, in a group of islands apparently far from the important management centers where big creation and investigation movements are cooked, although our first lecturer proved this isn't so. But, well, we do live in an island which is, in principle, far from any important center. And we've always complained, the creators, musicians, in general, of how difficult it is to live in these islands and participate in that creative movement. Recently, one afternoon, before he died, I had a long talk with Rafael Arozarena, one of our great writers. He told me that the people of his generation preferred to ignore the term "isolated" and considered other options, such as "islanded" or "islandated", when conceiving creation from the islands, from the possible initial isolation, in order to shape a way of being that conditionated the way of creating, but not the ability to create. Of course, one is different when living in one place or in another, when participating in one culture or another, belonging to one period or another, this obviously makes a difference. And we don't want to give this up, I haven't given up what differentiates and identifies me, which is being an islander. But let this not be a limitation, a handicap, when the time comes to create. Something that's more difficult in the island is to sell a product, to export it, but this difficulty is more attitudinal than it is circumstantial. It depends on your attitude towards isolation, on whether you consider it as "islation" or "islandation", or you consider yourself isolated. This hampers your ability to create. Well, it doesn't work, I'll do it from here directly. We can see this in our islands through many examples that have demonstrated that great things can be done having been born here. Such as Jos� de Ancheta, the adventurer who, as we all know, founded San Pablo, wrote the first Tupi Grammar and was an extremely interesting writer, poet and musician, regarded in Brazil as one of the founding fathers of that great country. Juan Leal was a very peculiar character who left Lanzarote with several families, took a totally epic trip, gruesome and full of adventures and ended up founding San Antonio of Texas. In the Alamo, that important center of, let's say, pilgrimage of many Americans that visit to see that vision of the Alamo, one of the stones of the mill that they carried is still preserved. In the eighteenth century, several Francophiles met at the Laguna, founded the Gathering of Nava, and performed the first studies of the aurora borealis, something that had nothing to do with Canarias, they made the first accurate scientific reviews of the height of Teide. They wrote the history of Canarias, the famous Fable of Iriarte, which is read all over the world. So, they set an example, from the island, of how one can be universal and creative, in a time when most of the population starved and had very limited resources. �ngel Guimer� was a writer from here, considered one of the fathers of new literature and dramaturgy in Catalonia. Everybody in Catalonia has heard about �ngel Guimera, everybody knows about him, but very few know that he's from Canarias, born here in Tenerife. Agust�n de Bethencourt, is considered a precursor of modern engineering. He left his mark in St. Petersburg, where he's admired for the fantastic engineering projects he performed there, or in Moscow. There, near the Red Square, is the Manege, or The Royal Stables, which is now a fantastic building, turned convention center, exhibition and congress hall. y fue hecho por Agust�n de Betancourt, and when getting there, one thinks: "How was this much modernity possible so long ago?" And he was born here too, at Puerto de la Cruz. Bl�s Cabrera Felipe is the name of the institute where I studied, in Lanzarote, and a son of this island. He was also one of the fathers of modern physics in Spain, Einstein's host and one of the finders of the Theory of Relativity, in Spain, and he was born in Lanzarote. Juan Negr�n, a fantastic doctor, rubbed shoulders with the intellectual cream of his time. Great scientists participated in discussion groups with him, and he became President of the Spanish Government, in a turbulent period that has made us forget such an interesting character. In the mid-twentieth century, Andr� Breton and his entourage of surrealists arrived here, said Tenerife was a surreal island and met characters such as Pedro Garc�a Cabrera, painters such as Juan Ismael and many other creators who amazed the great inventors of surrealism, and they were all here in Canarias. To name someone more current and popular: Manolo Blanik, from Isla de la Palma, he was born in La Palma, he's the most sought after shoe designer in the Big Apple in New York and he's from here, from La Palma Many more examples could illustrate the fact that great things can be done in these islands. It is possible to be creative and leave an important mark at a universal level. So, is there an ideal place to be creative? I don't think so. That is my proposal. At any rate, the "ideal" place to create is the place where you live, the place where your culture develops, your time and your vital pulse. That is the ideal place. It is obviously much more complicated to create in a war-striken country, in a country affected by famine, but even under very difficult circumstances, creativity flourishes as a pulse that's consubstantial to human nature. So, I say this above all from these islands because, in this small islands we always exclude ourselves, and create walls around us, sheltered in some kind of "isolation" complex. I think we should revisit the idea of being "islated", but not "isolated". So, we can say that a personality exists, a profile of the creator, which is consubstantial to every human being, regardless of where he is. I think it is so. And not only do I think so, but many researchers in the field of psychology, of anthropology, have studied the profile of what can be the "creative personality". Well, I've put there some factors. Innocence, is a word that I really like, it's simply the ability that children have� If you're taking a walk at the park and a kid comes running, get out of the way, since he's not going to stop, you must get out of the way because he has no barriers, nothing can beat his energy. Little by little, as we grow up, our parents tell us: "You'll grow up, and you'll learn that life is not how you think it is", and we sadly forget that innocence, the ability to believe that everything is possible, that we can do it all. Of course, curiosity, there's no need to explain this, a basic component of human beings, but especially active in creative people. The observation ability: I've always thought that an artist is nothing more than someone who sees reality in a way a little more special than other human beings. Usually, reality goes unnoticed because of its normalcy, but someone with a little sensibility and observation ability is simply capable of seeing the obvious, that which others don't see, and then capture it through his personal language, to return it to us. Then we see a work of art, or hear a song, or read a poem, and we simply think: "This is how I feel, but I'm not capable of saying it", which is why it moves us, why there is a process of identification with the work of art, with the creative message, which means that the observer is important. Well, there are many things: taking pleasure in the thinking process, being very reflexive, or, when the time is right, being thoughtless, not thinking and getting carried away by emotions, turning the ideas to actual actions. Many times, people are afraid of putting into practice that which moves them, or seems positive, because who will care about this?, and because of what people will say?. Having a positive attitude, is connected to everything else. A certain taste for melancholy, for a feeling of melancholy once in a while, for seclusion, for loneliness. Passion, persistence, constancy. Van Gogh never sold any painting when he was alive, but didn't stop painting compulsively until he died. Being independent and not caring what people may think, being independent of political and religious ideas of any kind. A sense of humor is also always present in many creative persons. Not being afraid of being moved by something. That "internal control crazy" thing, It's a component of psychology ("internal control crazy" � "external control crazy"), Usually, us humans blame others for our failures, but creative persons tend to be hard on themselves and, and when something goes wrong it's their fault, not anyone else's. no porque hayan tenido la culpa los dem�s, Surely all of us can relate to this profile some way or another, because all of us, at some point in our lives and in some way, we all are creative. What is creating? There I put the "tyranny of the puzzle". In a puzzle, we have a series of pieces whose purpose is to create an image. Pieces have to fit, and as much as we think a piece is more or less there, it isn't enough, it has to be the piece that fits perfectly. This is something that is deep-seated in our occidental brains and our education. And we must consider the possibility that if two pieces don't fit, the result might be more interesting than if they did fit. Then we can see the pieces of a puzzle and reinvent the image that we want to create with these pieces, and, therefore, to create. So my proposal, that many others share, is juxtaposing old elements in different, new and valid ways. Creating is a way of recycling. That boundary between extravagance and avant-garde has to do with persistence. Much study is needed, much reflection, and evidently, not anything goes. Tradition and modernity are not in conflict. Creation is a combinative, two-way process. If you want, I�ll take the opportunity to give an example. When I take a traditional melody, I try to reread it, sometimes, let's see, there�s a piece by Gaspar Sanz, a Spanish composer of the seventeenth century, who in 1674 wrote something called �Canarians�. The Canarian was a very important panhispanic dance that Europeans picked up and transformed into a dance that was widespread in the Baroque Period, very �popular� among wealthy classes and courtiers. Canarian had a basic rhythm that combined duple and triple. taca tataca tatun tan tan, eso no?, Leonard Bernstein did that to create his famous "I want to live in Am�rica" taca tataca tatun tan tan, it�s a very basic example of what�s called �6 by 8 with hemiola�. Well, that originated here in Canarias. Prehispanics did this dance, which was then reinterpreted by Europeans, resulting in this rhythmic pattern. OK, so we have a very simple melody from the island La Gomera. It�s really simple. "I did a mark on the sand, to see how far the waves reach" It's a triple, it's very simple. but if I apply to it the scheme of 17th-century Canarians, inspired by what Canarians said before the 15th century, that "6 by 8 with hemiola", taca tataca tatun tan tan, I mix it, well, we can get something like this It�s the same melody, but a little more interesting, a little more interesting. what I�ve done is yuxtaposing ancient elements to create a certain touch of modernity. When people hear me, they say "You take a melody and make it sound a little more modern", and what I�ve done is taking two very old elements to get a modern touch. It�s a simple example, neither the only one, nor the most valid one, but an example of the fact that tradition and modernity are never in conflict. In our education, that's fundamental, being creative is forbidden in our educational scheme. I guess you've analyzed this issue in other TEDtalks, so we're not going to go deep into it. Necessity feeds creativity. Not long ago, I was speaking with Totoyo Millares, another member of that big Canarian family that has produced painters, writers, musicians. When I asked him how they all turned out so creative he said: "Well, we had no food at home, we were so poor that we had nothing to eat, but my parents had a great book collection and many paintings, so, since we couldn't eat, we entertained ourselves by reading. And that's how we turned out so creative". Necessity often feeds creativity. And there I put the example of the sellers from Palmira. Not long ago, I was in Syria on vacation, last week and it was interesting. You could see the vendors, selling fabrics to tourists. One of them approached me and told me "viscal bar�a, spaniard" and since I didn't pay much attention because I don't care about football, he said: "Madrid?". Unbelievable, isn't it? And then, you can see children telling you: "Spaniard, I know you don't want to buy, leave me alone, don't bother me, I don't have any money"."Come on, buy from me". They made you laugh and you felt like buying from them. Most likely these people didn't go to school, have no schooling whatsoever and, nevertheless, were capable of communicating in several languages and being creative in order to sell their product, out of necessity. That of course doesn't mean that we need to go hungry in order to be creative. of course not Of course it is much better to go to school, of course it is much better to live well. But I'm suggesting that we understand that it's better that our children don't have it all, that they have a little necessity in order for their creativity to become active. Sharing increases the chances of success, always sharing everything, achievements, passions and frustrations, results in a creative process and the creation of synergy. In conclusion, we can all be creative, to greater or lesser extents. So, my personal proposal was starting from a tiny instrument, with very limited possibilities, a pauper's guitar, only used as accompaniment in parties, only played by old men out of tune and only capable of giving two or three chords. So, with an element of poverty but of a cultural richness that I believe we have in these islands, we started, not only me, but a group of friends, to follow the light of this idea which was to take a traditional instrument with few possibilities, study music, approach other musical genres such as classical music, jazz or pop, and try to integrate them to create music that was innovative, but attached to traditions, to our culture and our status of islanders. Following this impulse, we have achieved things. I never imagined that, I would be giving a conference here at TEDx, playing the little "Timple". and when I saw my face hanging there on New York's 7th Avenue I thought: "What's a yokel person like me doing hanging here in the Big Apple?", let's see how you will translate "velillo" (yokel), by the way, "What's a yokel person like me doing hanging here in the Big Apple?", Well, there we were, at Carnegie Hall, giving a concert, without complexes and with hard work, you can, with a pauper's instrument, make it to one of the most important halls in the world. I take enormous pride in this, above all because I've tried, within my possibilities, to represent the essence of these little islands that have music to tell. There you see wood and hands, but any element, this is nothing more than transformed wood, any element, when taken with enough passion and with hard work, can become a valid vehicle for conveying ideas, for conveying feelings and for getting a message across that's local but universal in its contents and ability to express emotions. Thank you very much.

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 40 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish (Spain)
Producer: Learn & Show - Innovation Institute and AVLE
Views: 89
Posted by: yaelho on May 3, 2010

Benito Cabrera, wonderful musician, talks about "Creating from the Islands", and how you can get extraodinary results by combining tradition with modernity.

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