Constrained music

/ 15 September 2009

Those who have heard me get on a soapbox know that one I return to again and again is the theme that creativity is born of constraints. Many people think that rich resources make you creative or innovative. Sometimes. But I think more often it is scarcity and boundaries that provide the tension necessary to focus and create, to rise above the mediocre. This applies to everything from web design to airlines, newspapers, entrepreneurship, even politics.

This evening I stumbled upon another example, the Record Club create by Beck. Beck gives the Record Club, himself and a few friends, 24 hours in the studio to recreate an album. They pick the album when they start, they don’t try to do anything profound, just cover each of the songs, seeing what emerges along the way. The constrains are severe, the results are wonderful.

Kevin Purdy at Lifehacker observes:

Writer of things creative and productive Merlin Mann provides examples for, and neatly sums up, how creative constraints can paradoxically free you. In the case of so many Big Serious Projects (or BSPs, for this post’s sake), setting up a personal constraint scheme — 12 songs in one day, 140 characters or less, 20 minutes of no-distraction coding before lunch every day — is simply a way to trick a big part of your brain into thinking that your BSP isn’t actually that big, or serious.

Take a deep breath. Now, dig in!


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