“Reality” Shows and Creativity

I’m a composer. It is expected that I be creative and that I love creativity, no matter what form it may show up. Creativity is evident in a lot of things, and new media is no exception. Part of that new media so to speak are those TV programs we now call “reality” shows. As much as these kinds of shows push their way to greatly exaggerate or distort reality (just like professional wrestling), I would be first to admit that there are certain “reality” shows that I like watching. However, for a “reality” show to become interesting to me, it has to show people being very creative and expressing themselves through actual skill and talent. Therefore, in terms of these kinds of shows, you won’t expect me to watch “Survivor”, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, “The Hills”, “Teen Moms”, or anything like that.

As I said, I appreciate a series that really highlights creativity. Some of my favorites are ones that involve food. As a composer and musician, I like trying to gain insight into how they work their creativity into something that couldn’t be preserved in their actual physical forms. Shows like “Top Chef”, “Cupcake Wars”, and “Cake Boss” are some of those shows that spark interest in me. These chefs are really dedicated to their art despite full knowledge that their creations will eventually end up in someone’s gut (and septic tank) after a few hours. Since food involves the senses, whenever I watch these kinds of shows, I try my best to see (or hear) what their equivalents might be in sound. If I take that approach, then perhaps I could mirror what I learn from these culinary shows from a gustatory aspect to an auditory aspect. I aspire to make music that is excellent and more than satisfying, something you would always come back for more. It’s kind of like having a comforting home-cooked meal or some haute cuisine.

I also tend to take that kind of approach when watching something like “Project Runway.” I certainly am not a fashionable person, but I can readily appreciate how designers would craft wonderful creations out of fabric. It’s kind of like how a composer would build a piece out of plucked strings, struck objects , and blown tubes. The kind of ethic and creative insight behind such endeavors deserve to be commended.

The thing is that these sorts of “reality” shows have a very interesting visual element to it. The question now is would a thing like “Top Composer” work well on network TV? I’m guessing that it wouldn’t work well. I mean that as much as you’d love people scream their soul out on “American Idol” or “The Voice”, I doubt that watching a composer scribble notes or record so many takes of a few bars of music on a DAW to be an exciting prospect. Would it be exciting to watch someone like John Williams, Philip Glass, or Randy Newman as head judge giving out a challenge such as, “You need to write and record a 12-bar blues combined with 20th-century serialism using a maximum instrumentation of 16-14-12-10-8 plus rock band,” to composers like myself. I mean your ordinary viewer would have a hard time understanding that, so it wouldn’t really fly as far as something like Top Chef. But who am I to say that? After all, I’m not some network executive like Chuck Lorre who could predict what show concept can become a hit.

P.S. If Bravo TV comes up with something like “Top Composer”, I would watch it. I might even try to audition for it.

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