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A History of Musical Decision Making: Mastering Chaos - "The Musician's Way"

Decision-making can be musical. I can see several questions emerging in your mind as you read this. The purpose of this blog is to outline times in history when music came into decision making. It also examines how even decisions about engine maintenance come down to a matter of tone and feel. Finally I describe how, in the middle of a corporate negotiation over 'who gets paid what', musical processes materialised which helped inform the decision. 


“One all-important purpose lay behind all the strenuous efforts of the Chinese to align their music to the principles and proportions of cosmic order. This purpose was that, through the God-alignment of music, all consciousness and life could become aligned to that same celestial order.” (David Thame: The Secret Power of Music: The Transformation of Self and Society Through Musical Energy)

Interest in Jazz and other forms of musical creativity as organisational metaphor seems to imply that the way musicians work together is a relatively recent development in organisational theory. To underpin the validity of music and music improvisation as a significant contributor to the development of organisational management it is worth observing that for four thousand years the Chinese system of government and understanding of power was influenced by music and its underlying structures.

Chinese Emperors were considered to be the earthly embodiment of heavenly power; literally the embodiment of the Logos (sometimes defined as the principle governing the cosmos or the source of this principle). “He who succeeded in harmonizing the discords within his mind, emotions and body could become a more perfect embodiment of Cosmic Sound,…He who embodied the Logos was inevitably exceedingly wise, moral and just; hence he was the most fitting to rule.” Emperors had their own tone, referred to as the ‘yellow bell’, which was both the fundamental tone of all music in China and also a reference to the Emperor himself. There is a clear implication here that he who controls the nation’s music successfully leads the nation.


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