Sunday, 19 April 2020

Gain from perspective 1.20

The computer game composer Wilbert Roget II (who has written award winning music for games such as Mortal Kombat, Call to Duty and Tomb Raider) describes composing in the 1st person: from the perspective of the characters within a game.

To achieve this perspective, part of his preparation is to become a game's character, try out the available outfits, tools and weapons, etc., and wander through a game's various scenes and levels.

Crucially, Roget does not become a protagonist: he does not become part of the action. This slight distancing ensures he is not distracted by the excitement of taking part and trying to succeed but instead focuses upon the look and feel of a game's world and characters.

By inhabiting a character and experiencing its world but not taking part in a game's narrative, I think Roget achieves not a 1st person perspective but a 1.20 person perspective: a perspective that gives him just enough mental space or headroom to notice details about the look and feel of a game that players caught up in the action would likely miss. 

Having gained insights from this 1.20 perspective, Roget can then create imaginative musical layers and backdrops that illuminate and enrich details that would be otherwise missed, so improving the overall quality of a game and enhancing game players' enjoyment.

We can all gain from using perspective 1.20. When seeking to solve a problem, do your best to experience it from the perspectives of those people affected by it. Whilst doing so, however, ensure you do not become too involved and caught up in a problem and its effects. Give yourself just enough mental space to begin noticing details about the look, feel and context of a problem: details that those caught within a problem's web of consequences would likely fail to see.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Throw it at the audience, warts and all!

"Throw it at the audience: warts and all!"

"Play anything you like."

"If they complain, never mind."

The above statements (from a Radio 3 interview) provide a significant insight into why two pianists, Zoe Rahman and David Rees-Williams, have become highly gifted improvisers: one of the secrets is to be uninhibited and able to express and share musical ideas "in the moment" as they form in the mind, appear upon the keyboard and begin sounding in the air.

This uninhibited expressing and sharing is not something all musicians can do. I recall one highly skilled professional orchestral violinist telling me that the mere thought of improvising in front of people filled her with dread: her training and musical conditioning inhibiting her own spontaneous creativity in favour of the rehearsed creativity of others.

Horses for courses and different musicians for performing different music.

But for those of us who need to contribute new and creative ideas (be these musical or otherwise), it is essential to marry our foundational knowledge, training and expertise with spontaneity of action.

The influence of our knowledge, training and expertise (our towering protective shadow of the tried, tested and sensible) can implore us to carefully rehearse our contributions before offering them.

This is often, of course, very beneficial. But habitual rehearsal can cause us to express and share ideas devoid of spontaneity: ideas that are shot through with and weakened by apparently sensible qualifications and "hedging our bets" second thoughts.

And it is these weakened ideas that people hear and, like an audience listening to a musician performing a "better safe than sorry" improvisation, quickly forget.

Rather than always perceiving your knowledge, training and expertise as a protective shadow of the tried and tested, occasionally try using them as a firm foundation from which you can launch new and creative ideas: share your ideas, warts and all; say anything you like in the way you like; if people complain, never mind (because this is better than having your ideas ignored and forgotten).