Brian Eno Speaks and Draws in Vancouver

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One of the most interesting musical minds of the past century, Brian Eno, visited Vancouver on January 10th to share An Illustrated Talk. A good friend picked up a ticket for me and I was glad to go. I left the Vogue theatre that night completely inspired. I was particularly impressed with how effective Eno is as a visual communicator and at conveying complex music concepts with visual metaphors.

Brian Eno in Vancouver

Here are 5 topics that Eno spoke about:

  1. Top Down Music – The old hierarchical approach to creating music
  2. Live Music vs Studio music – Film is to Theatre what Studio music is to Live music
  3. Generative Music – Creating a set of rules for generating music that would yield different results everytime.
  4. Ambient Television – applying the Generative Music approach to creating visuals
  5. Control & Surrender – the two opposing attitudes when in a creative endeavor

After the talk a friend expressed her discomfort with Eno rejecting the classical form of music. My interpretation was that Eno was not saying that the final classical form is passé or inferior but more in the way that music was and is sometimes still created. His likening the orchestra to the church and other ‘top down’ hierarchic structures drove the point home for me.

Here’s a video of Brian Eno speaking about some of the topics he covered in Vancouver.

Eno’s perspective on music has been pretty consistently against the idea of a main instrument supported by other instruments in an accompaniment role and rather a collage approach – textural and slowly evolving.

I believe that his music does paint pictures much like his images evoke music. In retrospect, I think I’ve always believed in achieving the right balance between control and surrender. And my highest creative moments have been when I was able to negotiate between perfectionism and a quiet resolve – tension and resolution.

On a final note, it turns out that for most of my life creating music remains my favourite way of letting go. Nothing else allows me to loose track of time like picking up a guitar.

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