Background of Inspiration

In this article, I’m going to talk a little more about what have given to me the idea of developing Inspiration, mainly the Oblique Strategies of Brian Eno, and the book “The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook”.

Background of Oblique Strategies
Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Their first edition has been released in 1975.

Each card offers an aphorism, more or less enigmatic, with several interpretations, like for Example: “Do nothing for as long as possible”, “Find a safe part and use it as an anchor” or “Repetition is a form of change”. They are intending to help artists break creative blocks. According to their designers, they can be used as a pack, or by drawing a single card when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case, the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is unclear…

These cards have been used in particular by Brian Eno itself, for example during the recording of David Bowie’s Lodger, but also by Coldplay, Phoenix, or MGMT.

Background of the book
The Immersion Composition Society (ICS) is an underground network of composers, organized into independent groups, called lodges, who periodically spend one or more days composing large volumes of music for the purpose of creating raw material for their new projects, and accelerate their progress as songwriters.

This movement has been created in 2001 by Nicholas Dobson et Michael Mellender, they developed a new songwriting method that involved composing prolifically while trying to avoid any kind of self-editing or self-consciousness. The result was a songwriting “game” that took place over the course of a single day. They both began to play it compulsively. Within a year, Dobson and Mellender had formed a society of songwriters, and this game – which came to be called the “20-Song Game”, was its central activity.

The songwriting method employed by the ICS is detailed in the The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook, written by Nicholas Dobson and Karl Coryat and published by Backbeat Books. The book details the philosophy of the ICS and refers to the ICS songwriting system as “Immersion Music Method” (IMM). The authors suggest for example to create lists and cards with new song ideas, or to draw randomly a theme to use for the whole 20-songs game sessions. Musicians of Keane, Doves or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are known users of these techniques.

Back in 2008, I used to compose some music with an equivalent way, although I was composing only ONE song in a day. To improve my songwriter competences, I created a blog called “artistic anti-procrastination cell”. I had to compose, record, mix and upload on the blog one song, within 2 hours, one day a week. I wish I know this book back at this time…

More information is available here :

Brian Eno’s official website
The Oblique Strategies website by Gregory Taylor
The Immersion Composition Society main page


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