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Pretty Random


When Stanley Kubrick was making 2001 he played ‘stand in music’ during the editing, prior to adding a ‘proper score’. So it was that the Strauss waltz Blue Danube was playing during the famous docking sequence.

“Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.”
Lewis Carroll

And so the famously meticulous director threw caution to the wind. The rest, as they say is history.

So What? I guess sound design tends to be practiced on certain principles – the things we know will work. But sometimes this can result in an approach of ever diminishing returns. Brian Eno designed his Oblique Strategy cards for this very purpose – when repeating everything you normally do keeps taking you down a blind alley creatively speaking you randomly take a card and follow its Kung Fu Panda like suggestion. It breaks ones habit, and in my experience breaks a creative block.

We have so much importance these days attached to ‘design strategy’ that we arguably pay too little attention to happy coincidences and random stimulus. It is in these places that lateral thinking resides. The kind which makes a project unpredictable, and so engaging.

The point would be that we should all keep our eyes, ears and subconscious open. Or we risk missing the fantastic opportunities that present themselves out of the blue, rather than off the strategic legwork.



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