Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In Closing, the Connect CGS Speaker


The closing session at IBM Connect this year was probably the most educational closing session I have listened to over the years. And that is a good thing because although some closers were motivational or inspirational or imaginative, the creative process often gets hidden in the final product.

Eric Whitacre, who until the session I had not looked up or heard of, was very upfront about his motivations and goals/dreams and how all of them combine to help him fulfill his music efforts.
Eric has created a collaborative choir, digitally, and continues to push the envelope to do more. You can look at some of his work here, here, and here to get an idea of what I am talking about.

While that was all very cool and awesome acoustically, it was his explanations about how he composes the new pieces that was so intriguing.

As with most designers and artists, he free hands some ideas on paper peppered with items that pop in his head to come up with a high level plan. Nothing is wasted, they are just ideas for next time perhaps.

He quoted Hans Zimmer the great composer of so many movies themes who said “Why go with your 5th worst idea when the 1st one is just as good”.

He then continued on by explain the Fibonacci number and how that influences art and music.

When Eric broke down the song from Frozen and compared it to how Beethoven’s 5th works, I am pretty sure everyone in the room was blown away by the relative simplicity of his explanation to something most people give little thought.

Eric composes orchestral pieces but involves non-traditional methods into his work. His usage of snapping fingers to make rain storms for instance or having an audience download an app to run during  the concert when he tells them to hit the button providing an aural and visual enhancement to his piece is great art. By bring his audience into the conductor circle he has gained their interest and makes the symphony seem modern instead of old and dusty. I would love to take my kids to see him some day.

My wife will read this and remind me of how I fell asleep at the symphony with her parents when we were first married. It isn’t that I don’t like the music, in most cases I do, it just doesn’t excite me the same way as seeing Eric Clapton in concert. Let the record also state, I fell asleep at a Fleetwood Mac conference during Mick’s elongated drum/percussion solo. I argue I was just tired in both situations. J

I can only presume this is how great developers plan their applications. I have worked with few developers that do it this way to such detail but maybe the detail is not what is really important. The details are appreciated, but are they just nice to have or do they serve a purpose? Even if that purpose is to complete the overall original vision of the creator? Do people really notice these nice to have items?

Whoever said don’t sweat the small stuff, really never understood, it is the small stuff that means the most.