Chris Boardman Music Blog: July 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

From certainty to ambiguity?

"Hugo" automaton
Using music to move from certainty to being comfortable with ambiguity- is it possible?

Reading between the lines.


Thinking on your feet, creative problem solving, connecting the dots. Whatever the label, it all comes down to the same thing: finding patterns and connectivity between seemingly disparate objects, situations and people.

Jeff Selingo writes convincingly in “The Hottest Job Skill Isn’t A Technical” that the seemingly mysterious quality of being able to “connect the dots” is of high value to employers…much more so than accepting that perfectionism is the surest path to success.

Life is an organism…the quintessential zoetrope. Nothing is perfect.

As composers, songwriters, producers (any creative individual) we are called upon to find unique solutions. Be it the turn of a musical phrase, a lyric, capturing a performance or deliberately choosing a oboe or English horn to play a passage, we constantly make decisions.

How do we make decisions anyway?


We can either be aware of our choices or, we can unconsciously stumble through relying on fear and/or habit. This too is a choice. So, which path is more valuable?

We are conditioned to follow rules. Conformity and common purpose provides the glue that holds us together as a society. But, at what point does compliance become a liability?  

Conformity isn’t necessarily bad. But, unconsciously following rules stifles individual thought, creativity and innovation. 

And, in our pursuit for perfection, adherence to the status quo can lead us away from contemplating and questioning whether or not the status quo is relevant for us… or not.

The older you get the more you see that life is messy, there are no easy answers and, regardless of what you’ve been taught to believe we spend the majority of our time making it up as we go along. We constantly live our lives making choices.

If this is true then why not spend our time improving our decision-making skills?
Why not focus your attention on how to make good choices rather than get swept up in competency being the determining factor of self-worth?

What does any of this have to do with studying music and music creation?


Those of us who have been trained in the arts hold a distinct and powerful advantage over those trained as specialists in a trade.

We are trained to make decisions and to judge the relative value of our choices. We are not exclusively constrained by rules of the status quo.

We continually make it up as we go along…self-determining how far to stretch the “box”.  

For me, the key to making good choices and consistently being able to connect the dots is to be aware and conscious of the choices I make.

And, if you are a creative individual never forget you have the power to choose, the ability to measure the consequences and the inherent courage to make good choices.

It is precisely your connection to creativity that gives you ability to connect the dots…in any situation.

It’s that something special about you that creates value… the unique way you approach problem solving and decision making. 

Step One: the road to better decision-making 


Spend your time listening to your inner voice. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to find out what is special about you…that something you do better than anyone else.

I suspect you will be surprised at what you find.