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Why We Play Dumb - B(L)og 009

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Pleading ignorance won’t save you going forward. To be fair it never has but it will become more apparent as we progress through the present. What are we talking about? Skill and excellence of course. What else? Over the course of your musical path you will at some point encounter somethings that are new to you. That new thing will often challenge what you already know about music.

If you embrace this new revelation there’s no telling what it could mean for you but………. If you bury your head in the sand because you’re deathly afraid of learning anything new you’re essentially reading your own artistic obituary.

It’ll read something like this……….

Artist: Insert yourself here.

Born: It doesn’t really matter now does it? You’re already done!

Creative Life Regrets and Areas of Remorse

Fear of Being Original

Fear of Education & Self-Improvement Fear of Being Estranged from a Community

Regret for being an Artistic Vampire (Living Through Someone Else’s Accomplishments).

Of course there is a way of delaying this fate while retaining a healthy sense of ignorance. The solution is to “Play Dumb”. To act like you’re not capable of learning anything outside of your comfort zone. By doing this you get to acknowledge that this new creative thing exists but you also get to dismiss it as being unsuitable for you and your requirements.

And why do people behave like this anyway? So they can hold on to the past or what they hold dear. Usually sacred customs and practices. Learning anything new forces one to confront the matter and deal with the new found knowledge. It’s pretty hard to ignore something once you learn about it. Partially acknowledging it is much easier to intentionally overlook.

If we hold onto our ignorance it’s often only because there’s a whole lot of comfort to be found in the familiar. It can also indicate a certain unwarranted loyalty to a school of thought. If a new direction doesn’t agree with what you sincerely believe in as an artist. Guess what? Conflict, fear and rejection are sure to follow.

My first foray into plugin design in Max For Live. I knew it was something that I needed to get into. "Resort" is the name of this plugin and you can hear what it can do right here on NTSC/PAL

Just let me Reference!

“Well what about if I use other pieces of music for inspiration?

You mean like sampling? It can help I can’t say anything about it. All I would say is the following:

What’s supposed to happen is that we as artists are charged with the job of extracting the truth an usefulness of any technique and expanding on it. Not the opposite of searching for falsehoods and the perceived tediousness within it.

Break free of all of that! You’re not here to adhere to rules and regulations imposed on you by people that you don’t know.

What’s worse than all of that. You gotta realize that you might not even know how talented you are. And the people that you’re surrounding yourself with might not be in a hurry to let you know. They’d much rather you stay put in a pool of inadequacy like them.

There’s safety and comfort in fraternities of common thought. Yes of course, we’re all on a level looking for people and things that we can relate to. Perhaps we’ll be understood or better yet we won’t have to spend so much time explaining who we are. That is comforting. Shared values and ideals are a source of power by association. This is why religions in any form are so compelling and popular. No one wants to really be alone. To truly stand out. If we did who would understand us. Who would pay attention enough to confirm your existence. As a matter of fact, that sounds a bit scary when put that way. If you’re not acknowledged, then why exist among other people?

And in there is your answer. You’re a person! You don’t have to worry about going through life unrecognized. You share something that all people on this planet share. And that’s humanity! Your innate affiliation with that state of being ensures that you will always have something in common with others around you. From that mutual association you can then branch out on your own artistic terms, or any terms you want really.

“Yohance you’re so pessimistic!”

Well yes! If not me then who? You ought to understand that everything isn’t rosy in this world. You gotta make that happen. Otherwise you’ll find that the paradise that you think you live in has in fact been designed by someone other than you! Once that’s out of the way you’ll be able to see reality for what it is. More pertinently; You’ll be able to see your musical path far more clearly.

So to play dumb is indeed dumbness in more ways than the obvious.

Now it's alright if you dabble in genres or styles that have been established and fortified over time. There’s nothing problematic about that. Just be cognizant of the fact that those genres cannot and never will be a definition of you. Even if you’re the person who created the genre itself. You’re far more complex than that. All the things that we create are ties to who we are and what we’re obviously capable of.

Okay! What Should I Be Looking Into?

I’d recommend the following for starters:

Live Coding

Advanced Synthesis/Sampling in general

MPE (Midi Polyphonic Expression)

Instrument Design

Instrument Motion Control

Historical & Present Audio Recording Practices

Future Audio Advancements & Applications

Music & Sound Comprehension

Try yourself. See if you have your own style floating around in that bonce of yours. You’ll most definitely be surprised to find that the answer will undoubtedly be……. yes, You do!

And if that’s the case. Why on earth would you opt to Play Dumb and spend your time jacking someone else’s style?

Unless of course you’re indeed dumb; In which case you’ve thoroughly proven the stupidity of your perspective by reading this far. Nonetheless……….

Thanks for reading! Much appreciated!


All rights reserved. Copyright 2021

266 views2 comments


Unknown member
May 01, 2021

I mostly agree with this. We should always be looking to improve and not remain dumb.

On the other hand though, people can still make great music just sticking with what they already know. Or by learning to do more with the gear they already have.

Look at Norman Cook when he was making all the Fatboy Slim records. He was mostly just using an Atari and S950, and even said he didn’t want a new computer because he was scared he would get addicted to the internet and stop making music. But with that S950 and Atari, he was making records that still sound good today.

Another example would be Burial. He made an album that’s considered a classic…

Unknown member
May 03, 2021
Replying to excellent reply to an excellent and well written article by TDS. Another example is Trent Reznor (mirage head from way back) who just bagged another oscar. Then there's the NIN band member Cortini who developed a synth with make noise. Music maker, Music tech marker, Music Coder - are all blending together and its all good.

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