I made a tweet today and deleted it. I decided that the thought that I had put into the idea stated was not enough.
The concept is “influential musicians”. Conversation related to the Isley Brothers going from Doo-Wop to Hip-Hop, and thus were terribly influential. The little I know of the Isleys, I really love, but I’m not sure that being part of most musical trends skewed more influential than influenced. I had come to a thought that, going by the musical trends they had engaged in, the Byrds and Yardbirds were the two most influential bands of the 1960s. I thought about that further, and while the points felt reasonable, I began to think that this was more a sign of trend surfing, showing that they took and amplified existing and coming trends, making them more influenced than influential. Clearly, I haven’t explored the idea fully in my head, much less boiled it down to a form that fits in a tweet, not to mention tying it sufficiently back to the Isleys, a band whose back catalog I need to dive through.
So, I deleted the tweet.
I’ve seen social media saying we should normalize saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong”, and sure. Most things I say, I don’t hang the entirety of my ego upon. I was wrong? Thanks for telling me. Which point? This is why you show your work in math homework; it makes it easier to find the point where your thoughts diverge from reality and correct.
Another tweet was a reply to “hustle porn”, asking if you’ve done anything for your startup equivalent to a pianist going over scales for hours.
I feel like it would take paragraphs upon paragraphs for me to explain why I feel they’re not equivalent. Musicians go into the “woodshed” in order to get their hands and ears working together. Because a lot is monotonous, tedius and not especially musicial, we go to the “woodshed” to get away from people. Perhaps, yes, going over your elevator pitch so that you can pull it out whenever you find yourself in an elevator with a potential investor, but by and large, my take is that time is better making your product or service better, and knowing your niche and your work allows you to present in a more human, less robotic way that straight reciting your pitch.
Scales are important, but when the music is largely playing scales up and down very fast, this is music that doesn’t have a large audience, because unless you’re wowed by technical proficiency, you find it boring. So, you start with chords and scales, and they’re important, but once you have them in your hands, my take is that you do maintenence practice to keep it there. Personally, when I find myself going up and down the neck, that’s a sign that I’m not sure what music I want to make, so I’m not present in my practice and not improving.
My take is that you want to be taking the chords and scales and patterns you have in your ears, head and hands, and using them in songs and performances.
A pianist who has spent hours in the shed with the E blues scale can use it to play Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Skuttle Buttin’”. A basketball player who has shot thousands of free throws can shoot them when the game is on the line and the crowd cheers for or against them. But I don’t think that there’s much that’s equivalent in most work environments.
As a programmer, the closest thing I can think of to scales practice are the first three things we write when we encounter a new language: Hello World, so we know we can do input and output; Iterative Fibonacci, so we know we can do loops; and Recursive Fibonacci, so we know we can handle functions. At this point, you can, to some extent, say I know this language and proceed with your work. If you level up in your understanding, you might want to go back and use the new skills to write these again, to integrate them. Going in and doing the work of reading and writing code, solving problems for yourself and your users, is how you get better, but it isn’t repetitive like scale work is.
And, I’m sure that it’s similar in other aspects of the work. So that piece of “hustle porn” doesn’t form a decent analogy between the work of being a musician and that of being most anything else.
And of course, I say scales and chords are important to this level, and for the music I’m interested in, not much beyond, but others would and did say “no, it’s more crucial than that”. I’ve played live in front of people, and my chops were together enough that I mostly avoided throwing clams in front of audiences, but it was always more hobby than business for me, and at the pop-rock-folk-blues level, and while there can be complexity, it isn’t the most difficult listening you can find.
So, the tweet isn’t saying Your hustle porn is bad and you should feel bad, but it also isn’t saying the entirety of the last thousand words or so, because that doesn’t fit in a tweet.
And that tweet, because it has responses to thing I wrote but don’t fully represent what I mean, is still up.
It might be the engagement that kept it up. I think I haven’t deleted it because there’s a core of an idea in there that I strongly believe, even if I’m not particularly fond of the specific execution.