Bored at work? Then Listen to This! A blog posts about a few incredible musicians and the projects they are working on.


By and large, the best buskers are those who work with the most potentially interesting instruments. One example is a man in New Haven, Connecticut, who plays with a set of drums on his head.

One of the most unexpected things about his performance is that he isn’t even playing drums. He’s using two cymbals that he strikes with his hands. The first time I saw him perform, he beat out a very simple rhythm with them: one-two-three-four-five. But in each succeeding piece he added a new element: one cymbal crash would be followed by another cymbal crash, and then there would be two simultaneous cymbal crashes, and so on.

It was all very tense and exciting, but it wasn’t music. He was creating poetry. He just isn’t telling you what the words mean.

Think about it: if the meaning of the words were important to you, then you would want to hear what they mean. If you didn’t know what they meant then why should you care?

It is hard to listen to your own, although it is easy to learn things in class. This is an example of a teacher-student relationship that can be reciprocal.

Teachers who don’t understand what their students are doing are unlikely to be able to help them, and students who won’t do the work are unlikely to get the benefit of a teacher’s advice. If a student has a complaint, the best teacher response is probably not sympathy but curiosity: “Hey, why do you think this is so hard for you?” And if a student doesn’t have a complaint, a teacher might ask, “Hey, why do you think this is so easy for you?”

A musician friend once told me that she was asked by an interviewer if she would write music for someone else. “Would you write for yourself?” she said she replied. “It’s not about writing music for other people; it’s about learning how to play guitar.”

It’s not enough to be good at music. You have to get better, faster, or go broke. Your goal is to make money. Make as much money as you can, and keep it forever. Music is not the most important thing in the world; it’s just something that happens to be fun, and since it’s fun we often forget how much work it is to make a living doing it.

This might sound like a bit of a paradox: How can anyone get rich by making music? But remember that people who don’t make music are rich too. We are all members of some kind of musical profession: from truck drivers to congressmen, from lawyers to surfers, from farmers to carpenters. The only difference between some professions and others is that some have more money than others.

A major part of your job description will be having a lot of songs that you’ve already written, or songs that other people have written for you. If you’ve got nothing but your own songs, even if they’re all great, you’ll go nowhere fast unless you sell them to somebody else. And once you’ve got a bunch of other people writing songs for you, being able to write even more yourself will become harder and harder every day until you

The best buskers in the world are probably those who aren’t famous. It’s hard to play for a crowd when everyone knows your name and your face. In this sense, the world’s best buskers are probably not famous, but they are still good at their craft.

In the United States we have something called the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. This is a big honor, with no real stipulations except that you have to have written even one song that is considered a hit. It seems like an odd place to give an award, because it will be full of people who are not “famous” in any conventional sense but who have written some popular songs.

And that brings us back to the best buskers in the world. Although these artists aren’t famous yet, they may become so, someday. But there is no guarantee; it may well be that no one ever hears about them again after today-and if you are a performer, or want to be one, then having no audience is just as important as having one.

Technical writing is a form of art, but it’s not the kind you can easily find in a gallery. You can find lots of people who are good at writing business plans or software manuals, but very few who are good at writing technical documents that describe how to build things.

In my experience, all too many technical writers are people who went into engineering and stayed there because they found it difficult to write about science and math. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I think technical writers who want to do this job should try to learn about how science and math work, and then learn how to explain them in language people can understand if they read it carefully. The most valuable thing I have learned is that doing science is like making a film: the interesting parts are often not your own ideas but those of other people, whose names you don’t know.

The buskers were so good that some of the people in the crowd stood up.

“The music is so beautiful,” said one woman. “I wish I could play like that.”

“Yeah,” said her companion, “this music is really going to make it into the Hall of Fame. It’s going to be on YouTube and everything.”

“That’s right,” said the first woman. “They’re going to put it online.”

The tone of this blog is not that of a natural conversation between two people. It’s more like a lecture, or perhaps a seminar. The goal seems to be to describe the projects of these musicians, and the way they think about music, and how their techniques are different from the techniques of others.

The subjects are diverse: music theory, composition, improvisation, and a few things that sound like common sense but have never been written about before in such detail. Then there’s a section called “the secret history of music”, which is really not a secret at all.

This is one of those blogs I go back to for information all the time; I find it fascinating.


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