If you're a director and you want to instruct an actor - you can either say to him 'Okay, now move your arm towards him like that', or you can say to him, 'Imagine who you are meant to be, and who he's meant to be. Now what do you do to him?'.
You see what I mean? It's like going a step further back in the composition process. So, instead of specifying the precise identity of something, you specify the little seed that will create an identity. You don't have to actually write it in its details.Brian Eno
The sound of the sea, the curve of a horizon, wind in leaves, the cry of a bird leave manifold impression in us.
And suddenly, without our wishing it at all, one of these memories spills from us and finds expression in musical language...
I want to sing my interior landscape with the simple artlessness of a child.Claude Debussy
As a maker you tend to put in twice as much as you need as a listener. It's a symptom of contemporary production. Old records don't have that problem.
With the facilities that you have today, you tend to plug every hole - you put more and more in. But as a listener you're much less demanding... you can take things that are much simpler, much more open, and much slower.
It's often happened that I've made a piece and ended up slowing it down by as much as half.Brian Eno
The focus of my playing is the groove, and every time I find a new rhythm, I find I can write a bunch of new songs.
Learning how to dance, or drum, or to swing my body in a new way is the fundamental way I find a new riff. Because when you learn to swing your body in a new way, you begin to swing with your instrument differently.Stone Gossard
Just write. It's not about sitting around waiting for the muse.
The people who are really good labour over what they write.Amy Ray
That's why I hate to take credit for the songs I've written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it's been done and I'm just a courier bringing it out into the world.Michael Jackson
You work on a piece of music, you put in certain ingredients, and suddenly they react in a way you hadn't predicted. If you're alert to that reaction, that's what you work from. If you're stupid, you try to cancel that reaction out.
A lot of people have such a fixed image of what the product should be that they refuse to allow any deviation. Again and again, they'll force the music into a mold until it goes where they want it to go. This generally leads to quite uninteresting music - or uninteresting anything.Brian Eno
Jazz is a very democratic musical form. It comes out of a communal experience. We take our respective instruments and collectively create a thing of beauty.Max Roach
Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time.Ornette Coleman
Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.Henry Ward Beecher
Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can't be taught.Paul Desmond
When you listen to Miles Davis, how much of what you hear is music, and how much is context?
Context is everything that isn't physically contained in the grooves of the record. It includes your knowledge that everyone else says he's great: that must modify the way you hear him. That he was a handsome and imposing man, a member of a romantic minority, that he played with Charlie Parker, that he spans generations, that he underwent various addictions, that he married Cicely Tyson, that he dressed well, that Jean-Luc Godard liked him, that he wore shades and was very cool, that he himself said little about his work, and so on.
Surely all that affects how you hear him: I mean, could it possibly have felt the same if he'd been an overweight heating engineer from Oslo?
When you listen to music, aren't you also 'listening' to all the stuff around it, too?Brian Eno
I started coming to the studio with less worked-out pieces, and eventually with nothing at all. I would just start working with that thing, "the studio", as the instrument.
There is nothing outside of this process - this process called recording is the creative process. We don't have the canvas standing in front of any landscape, you are going to make the landscape here and now.Brian Eno
Having no silence in music is like having no black or white in a painting.Brian Eno
Since I have always preferred making plans to executing them, I have gravitated towards situations and systems that, once set into operation, could create music with little or no intervention on my part.
That is to say, I tend towards the roles of the planner and programmer, and then become an audience to the results.Brian Eno
Silence is very imporant. The silence between the notes are as important as the notes themselves.Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Without freedom of expression, good taste means nothing.Neil Young
The act of listening is in fact an act of composing.John Cage
You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it.Duke Ellington
Let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man-made theories or expression of human sentiments.John Cage
The most important thing in a piece of music is to seduce people to the point where they start searching.
If the music doesn't do that, it doesn't do anything. If it just presents itself and just sits there, if it either declares itself too clearly or is too obscure to even appear to be saying anything, then it seems to me to have failed.
Sitting on that line is very interesting.Brian Eno
I saw Bob Dylan getting criticized in Australia by this guy who was saying, "Your new songs aren't as relevant as your old songs."
And Dylan just said, "Well, I'm out here writing songs - what are you doing?"Bob Dylan
Singers are like Arabs. They abhor a vacuum. And a vacuum is defined as "when I'm not singing".Brian Eno
The twelve notes in each octave and the varieties of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust.Igor Stravinsky
I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.Elvis Presley
The mind must be trained to follow the flow of the heart's river.Michael Hedges
"Hollywoodization": This is the process where things are evened out, rationalized, nicely lit from all sides, carefully balanced, studiously tested against all known formulae, referred to several committees, and finally made triumphantly unnoticeable.Brian Eno
We talk to our kids in one way, to our friends at work in another, to our lovers in yet another, to the lady in the corner shop in another.
When we make these shifts we are exercising our understanding of the worlds from which they are listening to us, and we are also projecting onwards our own view of the world in which we would like this conversation to be taking place.
When you think about it, this is an enormous and complex talent that humans spend their lives exercising, rehearsing, refining.Brian Eno
Music is the language that can only be heard when you get your own thoughts out of the way.Danielle Egnew
Removal of context is an important point in the magic of music.
Deliberately dismantle or shift contexts around so that something comes from an area where you didn't expect it, or something appears and it has a certain mysteriousness to it. There are ingredients mixed together that you have never heard together before, and that produces a strangeness.Brian Eno
What do Fellini's films have to do with naturalism? He works with the inaccuracies of memory. It's the opposite direction from naturalism: elevating things to mythical, archetypal status. Make them more dreamlike. That's a feeling I like a lot.Brian Eno
Forget all the chords on your guitar but three, and don't use the third one unless you have to.Hank Williams
Any information which is common, after several repetitions, you cease to hear.
You reject the common information, rather like if you gaze at something for a long time, you'll cease to really see it.
You'll see any aspect of it that's changing, but the static elements you won't see.Brian Eno
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears form the eyes of woman.Ludwig van Beethoven
The music has generated all the techniques I use.
When I sit down to learn to play something it is not because I want to master a technique. It is because I want to hear what an idea sounds like.Pat Martino
When you make music you are acting as a philosopher. You can either do that consciously or you can do it unconsciously, but you're doing it.John Cage
A lot of songs you write are just for exercise -- just pencil sharpeners.Harlan Howard
What matters in modern music is not the part you can write down, the words and the tune, but the rest - the texture, the atmosphere, the references and associations.Brian Eno
Classical music is weighted very much towards purity and distinction from normal sounds - what makes them musical is that you know they deliberately don't sound like anything else in the world.
What pop music keeps doing is shifting the other way, absorbing more and more of the world.Brian Eno
What has worked before is never as good as something that has never been tried before, even if it doesn't work.Jimmy Webb
Often in life you are confronted by many possibilities. The best thing you can do is just go for one with a quick decision, then make that choice work for you. It takes you to interesting places with surprising results.Brian Eno
When people censor themselves they're just as likely to get rid of the good bits as the bad bits.Brian Eno
I'm as mystified now as when I started. I'm no closer to understanding the difference between the ingredients of a really great song and a mediocre one.David Gray
My own thing is in my head. I hear sounds and if I don't get them together, nobody else will.Jimi Hendrix
A friend of mine says that modern music is a form of space travel, because either you're going out into space with the music, into weird new sounds and weird new impossible landscapes. Modern composers...create psychoacoustic spaces that actually don't exist in nature.
So that's one kind of space travel, going outwards. But the other kind, of course, is inner space travel, travelling into the strange new psychological spaces in our souls.Brian Eno
I want to make things that put me in the position of innocence, that recreate the feeling of innocence in you.Brian Eno
The easiest way to get laid by a girl, or get rid of her, is to write a song about her.David Crosby
The poem the reader reads may be better than that which the writer wrote.
Try to make things that can become better than what you thought you were doing.Brian Eno
Musical modes are nowhere altered without changes in the most important laws of the state.Damon of Athens
No one is able to make music actually, but some have learned how to make it happen.Lorenz Weiler
Your responsibility is to tell the truth, not the facts, necessarily. It could be the facts, but it's basically the truth. That means being a truthful person.
You can't tell the truth in your work if you don't tell the truth in your life. So I encourage you to be scrupulous in your truth ethic.
Even when no one's looking - especially when no one's looking. Just for yourself.Rosanne Cash
As I get more involved and more advanced as a musician, I see that everything I do has the potential to be music and vice versa.Pat Metheny
Artists who don't censor their own work: Picasso, Miles Davis, Prince. They're all people who just put it out, and have almost no critical self-censorship. They say, "Let the market decide; let the world decide." You might not be the best person to judge it.
That's a kind of humility, actually: it's a mixture of arrogance, which says, "I know I'm fucking good." But a humility, which says, "I'm not the person to decide."Brian Eno
I always liked the cusp where something feels if it's familiar but strange at the same time.
It doesn't immediately assault you as being completely weird. You feel seduced by it. But at the same time you can't put your finger on what it is that you recognize. It's a very good feeling.Brian Eno
We should imagine we're making hypothetical film soundtracks, not making songs.
This is always a very liberating idea, because a film soundtrack doesn't have to have a center - the film itself is the center. It allows you to make music that is pure atmosphere.Brian Eno
Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder.
Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you. Figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.Barbara Kingsolver
I talk to many young painters, because I teach art in schools. I ask them:
Why do you think that what you do ends at the edges of this canvas?
Think of the frame. What frame are you working in? Not just that bit of wood around the edge, but the room you're in, the light you're in, the time and place you're in. How can you redesign it?
I would say that to musicians, too. I see them spending a lot of time working on the internal details of what they're doing and far less time working on the ways of positioning it in the world.
By "positioning it" I don't only mean thinking of ways to get it to a record company, but thinking of where it could go, and where it fits in the cultural picture. What else does it relate to?Brian Eno
A songwriter's supreme challenge is being complex and simple at the same time.Paul Simon
The more I can learn about music, the more I learn about other things.Pat Metheny
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.Martha Graham
I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.Duke Ellington
I write by twiddling the strings into a different tuning - I throw it open to the cosmos.
Then when you discover something that has an element of divine intervention, it's like a blessing.Joni Mitchell
Avant-garde music is a sort of research music. You're glad someone's done it but you don't necessarily want to listen to it.
It's similar to the way I'm very happy people have gone to the North Pole. It extends my concept of the planet to know it exists, but I don't want to live there, or even go there actually. But it's a boundary condition.Brian Eno
The notes, I handle no better than many pianists.
But the pauses between the notes, that is where the art resides.Artur Schnabel
Some sound comes so heavily laden with intention that you can't hear it for the intentions.
This is the great problem of lyrics... they always impose something that is so unmysterious.Brian Eno
Sometimes I almost feel like music is a mistake - like we are not supposed to know about it.
Music comes in through our ears, but we all know that it is not just sounds. There is something else included in music that is very difficult to define. It reminds us of where we were before and where we are going after. It is a mysterious vapor that somehow slips in the cracks between this plane of existence and some other one. The people who are good musicians have the ability to conjure up more of that vapor than others.
More and more, I see that it is the same thing you find wherever there is love, intensity, energy, or human potential. All those good things include this same mysterious vapor that is the fabric of music.Pat Metheny
As soon as I'd made up the shape of the song, I made a plan of it on paper, sketching out all the spaces where I wanted words, and began running through it, just singing whatever came into my head. And every time I hit on a phrase I liked, I'd write it down in its particular place in the framework.
Gradually I'd arrive at a kind of 'found' document made up of half-obscured fragments - and all I then had to do was fill in the blanks by reconstructing what I thought each lyric was about. Automatic writing, in fact.Brian Eno
Anything more than three chords is just showing off.Woody Guthrie
It is ridiculously easy to become bitter in this trade, so hard not to resent in at least some small capacity the success of others.
The real problem is that envy and bitterness are such poor materials for a songwriter to work with.
A person can write one, maybe two songs on the subject and even if the pieces are well crafted, probably no one will want to hear them.
I capsulized insults and aimed them at specific individuals in some of my early music and now regret those acts more than any others in my creative life.Jimmy Webb
I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.John Cage
The only motivation I need to write a musical is a phone call from the producer.Cole Porter
I want to believe that what I make is a good start, a strong place to begin. I then hope that at least it will be better in the user's (listener's) mind than it is in mine.
I want to plant seeds that will grow when they leave me.
If I thought the music was only going to remain as I left it, then why would I want to release it? You release things so that they will grow, and have interesting other lives without you. Just like kids.Brian Eno
I love bass guitar, because it has so little to do, yet it's so important.Brian Eno
Somebody in an interview said recently, "What do the words mean?" And I said, "What do the chords mean?"Brian Eno
John Cage made you realize that there wasn't a thing called noise, it was just music you hadn't appreciated.Brian Eno
Good songs write themselves. We're lucky enough to take the credit.Danielle Egnew
The greater you understand the structure of something, the more amazed you'll be at the tiniest movement within it. In that sense the possibilities are limitless.Brian Eno
A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.Leopold Stokowski
As soon as you externalize an idea you see facets of it that weren't clear when it was just floating around in your head.Brian Eno
If you think of culture as a great big garden, it has to have its compost as well. Lots of people are doing things that are not dramatic or radical or not even particularly interesting; they're just digestive processes. A number of little things are being combined and tried out.
If you think about music in that way, it makes it much easier to accept that there might be lots of things you might not want to hear again. They happen and they pass and they become the compost for something else to grow from.Brian Eno
Whenever I start working on a song, I immediately try to forget everything, to empty my hands and head of anything that may be hanging over from another song or album.
I try to approach it like this is the first time I've ever played guitar. What am I going to do?The Edge
Things are always least interesting when they're most clear, in a way, when everybody understands what's going on.
I suppose the quality I've always liked in music is the sense of being baffled... "God, I like this, but I don't know why!"
I suppose one of the reasons one becomes a composer is that you want to recreate that thrill for yourself. You want to do something that makes you say "God, where did that come from?"Brian Eno
Two different ways of making things: the hard way and the easy way.
The hard way is the way of the individual artist who establishes his own terrain, as it were. The easy way is the way of grace and the way of tradition, where you don't even consider the possibility that you are there to make major innovations - you're there to make 200 parts today.
One of the things I like about gospel music is that it has that same kind of humility, that the people who are singing it are not puckered-brow artists. There's the same freshness and thrill that you see in all kinds of folk arts. People doing something that is shaped by a whole lot of quite unconscious factors, like the limitations of their own vocal range.Brian Eno
The question is, "What are you saying with the guitar?" - Not "Can you play this link?" or "What's your speed like?"
It's, "What are you saying with your instrument? What is being communicated in this song?"The Edge
People are hearing a lot more context than music, so perhaps I accept that I am now primarily a context maker.
My art is not just what comes out of the end of my trumpet or appears on a record, but a larger experience which is intimately connected to who I appear to be, to my life and charisma.
The 'music', the sonic bit, could end up being quite a small part of the whole experience.
Developing the context- the package, the delivery system, the buzz, the spin, the story - might itself become the art. Like perfume...Brian Eno
The idea is to produce things that are as strange and mysterious to you as the first music you ever heard.Brian Eno
Creativity is making mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.Scott Adams
Repetition doesn't really exist.
As far as your mind is concerned, nothing happens the same twice, even if in every technical sense, the thing is identical. Your perception is constantly shifting. It doesn't stay in one place.Brian Eno
You don't cling to secrets you've told.
You move on, and your work keeps being surprising as a result.
Maybe this approach works best with artists who are easily bored.Stewart Brand
Composition is a way of living out your philosophy and calling it art.Brian Eno
It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.Joan Baez
Cut a vital connection.
That's a very interesting thing to do because most pieces of music are based around some centre, like a drum track or a drone, which really holds everything together. Just try taking that element out of the music and see what happens.Brian Eno