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Paul McCartney and the creation of ‘Yesterday’: the systems model in operation

a1 University of Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia E-mail: phillip.mcintyre@newcastle.edu.au

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By applying Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's systems model of creativity, evidence can be presented to claim that despite ‘Yesterday’s promotion as a Romantic piece of creative activity, perpetuating the myth of the mystically inspired freely expressive artist, the creation of ‘Yesterday’ can be seen as a more considered and rational process than otherwise mythologised. The definition of creativity assumes an activity whereby products, processes and ideas are generated from antecedent conditions by the agency of someone, whose knowledge to do so comes from somewhere and the resultant novel variation is seen as a valued addition to the store of human knowledge. As an example of a system at work, the song's creation satisfies more closely the characteristics ascribed to the rationalist approach to creativity. From the evidence, it can be argued that creativity is a dynamic system that works on a larger scale than that of the sole individual posited by the Romantic conception and concomitant understandings. It, instead, incorporates the actions of the person, in this case Paul McCartney, within the systemic relationships of the field and domain. These three components, person, domain and field, comprise a system with circular causality where the individual, the social organisation they create within, and the symbol system they use are all equally important and interdependent in producing creative products. ‘Yesterday’ is but one creative product of this system at work.