A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places.Paul Gardener
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
What has worked before is never as good as something that has never been tried before, even if it doesn't work.Jimmy Webb
All my concerts had no sounds in them; they were completely silent. People had to make up their own music in their minds!Yoko Ono
A lot of songs you write are just for exercise -- just pencil sharpeners.Harlan Howard
I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.John Cage
The mind must be trained to follow the flow of the heart's river.Michael Hedges
It's got to be changed every once in a while or it starts to stink.Jeff Kauppi
The only way to know how much is enough, is to do too much, and then back up.Jerry Jeff Walker
There's only one way to find out if something works: get off your ass and do it!Amod Dange
I'll go for things that I know are going to be wrong, with a vengeance.Neil Young
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
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
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
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
When people censor themselves they're just as likely to get rid of the good bits as the bad bits.Brian Eno
Write as if you've discovered a very dusty inscribed stone somewhere, and you're trying to scrape off all the muck to find out what's underneath it, and you keep coming up with one word here, another one there, and you're trying to imagine what might be in between those words.
The only temptation to resist is the temptation to fall into a simple meaning.Brian Eno
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
Beware the panic effect that accompanies the high cost of studio time:
One becomes increasingly oriented toward results, and progressively less inclined to engage in experimental activities that might not lead anywhere.
As a result of this, one focuses one's attention on the safe bet, on the tried and tested techniques.Brian Eno
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
Musicians and other artists interact constantly with at least two types of systems: systems of aesthetics (what will sound good? what type of music to work with?) and economic systems that reward, or fail to reward, their efforts.
If you're confronting a set of results that you don't want, rather than trying to force the existing system to yield up a different kind of results, you might better spend your energy creating an alternative system!
This could mean anything from establishing your own concert outlet for non-commercial music to designing your own microtonal scale.Brian Eno
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
You could invent a world in reverse, by inventing the artifacts that ought to be in it first.
You think of what kind of music would be in that world, then you make the music and the world forms itself around the music.Brian Eno
There are two ways of being an artist. One is to really explore one furrow - like Randy Newman or Joni Mitchell. They're people who've got one territory and they really, really examine it. Saying, "This is my language and I'll get better and better at speaking it."
But I'm not that type of artist. I'm really thrilled by suggesting other ways of talking, other languages one could speak. Once an idea has been floated as convincingly as I think it needs to be, I don't want to go on flogging it forever! It doesn't mean I stop doing it, but I don't want to make it exclusively 'my thing'.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
With all fashion, what we do is play at being somebody else. We play at inhabiting another kind of world.
I'm role-playing effectively when I'm making fashion choices. I'm also engaging in some kind of game with myself and the rest of the world. I'm entering into some kind of simulator.
I'm saying, "What would it be like to be the kind of person that wears these kinds of glasses?"Brian Eno
There's a real bogey among rock musicians about talking about music - they seem to think that if you discuss it, the magic dies or something. I disagree.
I think that if you can argue yourself out of doing something, you should.
Anything that's strong enough will stand up to any amount of analysis.Brian Eno
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
I remember being with my wife's family, who are are quite shy. We started playing Charades, and within 10 minutes people are singing the theme from such-and-such with all the acting that goes with it.
Because they're now in a frame which says, "You're not yourself, you're not responsible." I thought, that's not a bad philosophy of life.Brian Eno
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
...a combination of instruments that are so recognizable, that come with a huge amount of cultural history, you know, like jazz piano sounds, the ride cymbal, etc.
As soon as you hear those instruments you have some kind of picture of how the music was made.
Within that, I place those things in an electronic landscape, which is completely another world, a world that never belonged to that music.Brian Eno
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
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
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
When I've found that what I'm doing has become pleasing, even to one person, I have redoubled my efforts to find the next step.John Cage