The official website showcasing the music of Yellowgold, produced by Jason Howell.

A quick note on Oblique Strategies

My last post briefly touched on the utility of the powerful creative tool called Oblique Strategies. After some thought, I felt it was important to quickly follow up on the tool to offer a few pieces of advice.

First, a brief overview. Oblique Strategies is a series of cards designed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. The purpose of the deck is to offer up statements, questions, or pose dilemmas in a very esoteric way about the creative work at hand.

If you find yourself stuck in a particular creative endeavor, the thought is that the cards would be a way to remind yourself that there is no single right way to do things. Pull a card out of the deck and allow for it to guide you in the next direction of your project.

The answers posed within are often somewhat obscure, but that's kind of the point. They are open to interpretation, because no two creative endeavors are the same. Part of the beauty of the cards is that they don't only apply to music production. It's an invaluable tool for anyone dabbling in creative arts.

And truth be told, there is no real right way to us the deck. But my experience with the deck has told me that the best way to use it is to take the suggestion it gives you upon first draw, and run with it.

It's tempting to pull a card, read it, not quite understand what it means or how it applies to your project, only to then put it back in the deck and pull another. I've done this and all it resulted in was more confusion over what to do followed by abandonment of the deck. It's almost like playing a board game by yourself, all the while looking up the answers as you go. Not satisfying at all, and in this case, not helpful either.

I see the cards as a last resort, but an essential tool. Particularly when you produce by yourself, there is nobody else to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, or share the burden of your creative work. Having the cards to fall back on takes a bit of the conceptual pressure off of you by allowing to you relinquish control to the suggestion of the deck.

Pull a card. Evaluate the answer. (This could take some time cause, as I said, some of the answers are VERY esoteric.) Figure out how it applies to your project. Act on it.

Even if it's the smallest change, it gives you a distraction to focus on. You might not like where it takes you, so makes sure and save your progress beforehand so you can revert if needed.