I’ve been in a creative quandary – wondering where ideas are going to come from.
Brian Eno has been the curator of the Oblique Strategies project since he and Peter Schmidt (d. 1980) began it as a deck of 113 cards in 1975. Original editions of the deck go for eBay for hundreds of dollars, and several subsequent editions have been printed.
Of course, now there are Oblique Strategies websites, Twitter updates and iPhone apps, but the physical cards evoke the traditions of I Ching, Tarot, etc.
OBLIQUE STRATEGIES: Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas
BRIAN ENO and PETER SCHMIDT
From ENO SHOP
The original 113 cards from the first edition:
Abandon normal instruments
A line has two sides
Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)
Are there sections? Consider transitions
Ask people to work against their better judgement
Ask your body
Assemble some of the instruments in a group and treat the group
Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
Breathe more deeply
Bridges -build -burn
Change instrument roles
Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
Children’s voices -speaking -singing
Consider different fading systems
Consult other sources -promising -unpromising
Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element
Cut a vital connection
Define an area as ‘safe’ and use it as an anchor
Destroy -nothing -the most important thing
Discard an axiom
Disconnect from desire
Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
Do nothing for as long as possible
Don’t be afraid of things because they’re easy to do
Don’t be frightened of cliches
Don’t be frightened to display your talents
Don’t break the silence
Don’t stress one thing more than another
Do something boring
Do the washing up
Do the words need changing?
Do we need holes?
Emphasise the flaws
Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)
Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation
Fill every beat with something
Get your neck massaged
Give the game away
Give way to your worst impulse
Go slowly all the way round the outside
Honor thy error as a hidden intention
How would you have done it?
Humanise something free of error
Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar
Imagine the music as a set of disconnected events
Intentions -credibility of -nobility of -humility of
Into the impossible
Is it finished?
Is there something missing?
Is the tuning appropriate?
Just carry on
Left channel, right channel, centre channel
Listen in total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly
Listen to the quiet voice
Look at a very small object, look at its centre
Look at the order in which you do things
Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them
Lowest common denominator check -single beat -single note -single riff
Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
Mechanicalise something idiosyncratic
Mute and continue
Only one element of each kind
Overtly resist change
Put in earplugs
Remember .those quiet evenings
Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics
Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
Repetition is a form of change
Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)
Shut the door and listen from outside
Take a break
Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance
Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)
The inconsistency principle
The tape is now the music
Think of the radio
Trust in the you of now
Turn it upside down
Twist the spine
Use an old idea
Use an unacceptable colour
Use fewer notes
Use ‘unqualified’ people
What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
What is the reality of the situation?
What mistakes did you make last time?
What would your closest friend do?
What wouldn’t you do?
Work at a different speed
You are an engineer
You can only make one dot at a time
You don’t have to be ashamed of using your own ideas
[blank white card]