"Thought is the enemy of flow"

blissblogger

Well-known member
"Thought is the enemy of flow"

This quote could probably be a thread in the Music forum, because it's by a famous drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta (a famous drummer I'd never heard of until I saw someone post this quote - but apparently he is King Drummer, toast of the technical mags.

I wondered if it's true

In life

In writing

Or any kind of creative practice

I sort of think it's bunk, but then I'm very wedded to thought and thinking. Takes a lot to turn it off.

But I wondered if it might not even be true in music

(I'm not a musician so can't really speak to that)

But yeah thought - thought is flow, isn't it? Even linear thought is flow - just channeled a bit.

(This whole thing of being anti-linearity is very dated and '90s I think.)

(Yet also makes me of that Edward de Bono fellow and his "lateral thinking" paperbacks that you'd see, or I'd see at any rate, in the 1970s. Stuff that was made to be the stuff of management retraining seminars - "get your executives thinking outside the box and increase your profits" )
 

luka

Well-known member
I've never known what people mean by 'thinking.' Thoughts, yes, I can see what people mean by thoughts, but thinking as an active, directed process I'm sceptical about. I'm not convinced it exists. In what I do, which has tight time constraints, typically an idea pops into my head immediately, but if I started 'thinking' I would get stuck.

If customers ask I usually tell them I try to move quickly enough that no options present themselves, as soon as you're presented with a choice of paths you're stuck. Go at the correct speed and that dilemma doesn't arise.
 

luka

Well-known member
"I sort of think it's bunk, but then I'm very wedded to thought and thinking. Takes a lot to turn it off."

This sounds to me more like an inner voice than 'thinking'. Jibber jabber exists, thinking is probably a myth, that's my position.
 
In some senses it's probably correct but it doesnt necessarily lend itself to every time of "work" or process

I have had a load of scaffolders working for me this year and though i don't always have time to do it, it's good to watch them in the midst of the graft & momentum, because they will fall into a rhythm on a straightforward job and it does become a flow. I think most non-mechanical (or electrical, unless it's an install) trades will get into that zone where you're accessing the recess of your psyche and conscious action becomes instinctual rhythm

Playing the drums is probably like that?

When i was a youth and doing bricklaying or on the hod i think the same sort of thing applied - big smoke in the morning then you just enter the loop and before you know it, it's time to go the pub. Of course you can be broken out of this at any moment by someone giving you shit. Or, worst of all- poor music/radio selection

flow isnt thought, its more a subconscious muscle memory. I think anyway
 

thirdform

Well-known member
of course thinking exists.

If thinking didn't exist, abstract thought would not be possible, and you would have to deny reality external of us as primary. How do you otherwise derive definitions as the acts of making certain concepts more comprehensive?
 

thirdform

Well-known member
if it were that the Humeian position taken to its limit (although Hume was agnostic on this himself) was correct and our mental sense impressions had absolutely no correspondence with the world external to us, then sure I could see the point of the quote. Otherwise it just seems to be a contradiction to me and I'm inclined to agree with blissblogger.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
even the xen of industrial or mechanical work requires thought as such, otherwise there would simply be no correlation between your hands or legs operating said devices and the devices in and of themselves.

It's the transformation of the thing in itself into the thing for us.

One cannot play the drums as the thing in and of itself, as soon as you play them, or put them to any kind of use, they transform in a quite logical manner into serving as things for us. It is like asking the question can god make a brick too heavy that he can't lift. you'll get trapped in an infinite regression.
 

entertainment

Well-known member
sounds true to me.

depends on what thinking means tho. if you mean a kind of reflective lingual cognition like "if i strike this drum with this part of the drumstick at this time, it will produce a sound that fits into this pattern as such" then of course it's ruled out that this goes on as you're drumming

heidegger would say the drummer's relationship to his drumsticks and drumset is "non-theoretical". suppose you could say that means without thought. the drumsticks and drumset themselves sort of withdraw from the world. they become extensions of the drummers intuitive action in carrying out a task.

so the "thinking" faculty is freed up to a more abstract level of the task at hand
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Dunno about music so much but surely in sport there are those moments of pure instinctual play. I tend to think that there is probably a mixture of longer term thinking and moments where there is a surrender to the flow. Say in football a player is carrying the ball and actively thinks "I will bring it down the wing and take on the fullback" but the actual moment of trying to go round the defender is not based so much on thought but on a number of instinctual foot and body movements, the precise choice of which is made by the subconscious depending on the position of the ball and the defender and his body position etc

Is that what you're talking about or am I misunderstanding the question?
 

Leo

Well-known member
Improv music is an odd one: "free", in theory, but also considered. Both flowing and thinking.

Whereas free jazz tends to be a pure emotional outpouring. There's maybe a framework to operate from, but not deliberate thinking per se.
 

Leo

Well-known member
what sort of thinking do they do in improv music?

I'm not a musician so not sure exactly but watching lots of improv gigs, there's a lot of concentration, calculation, doing things outside of a traditional structure but with considered attention to detail.
 
have had a load of scaffolders working for me this year and though i don't always have time to do it, it's good to watch them in the midst of the graft & momentum, because they will fall into a rhythm on a straightforward job and it does become a flow. I think most non-mechanical (or electrical, unless it's an install) trades will get into that zone where you're accessing the recess of your psyche and conscious action becomes instinctual rhythm

funny I had scaffolders doing the cladding outside my flat last month and I was thinking the same thing. The pace and coordination was frankly beautiful, all while taking piss out of each other, calling each other cunts calling for tools, the slightest errors or slowness always called. joking about who had the dirtiest dick. It was right beside my open window in the blistering heat and they sometimes started at 8am but I liked them too much to complain. Sang along loudly together to radio. And they always downed tools for break and lunch on the dot
 

luka

Well-known member
funny I had scaffolders doing the cladding outside my flat last month and I was thinking the same thing. The pace and coordination was frankly beautiful, all while taking piss out of each other, calling each other cunts calling for tools, the slightest errors or slowness always called. joking about who had the dirtiest dick. It was right beside my open window in the blistering heat and they sometimes started at 8am but I liked them too much to complain. Sang along loudly together to radio. And they always downed tools for break and lunch on the dot
they're easily the loudest tradesmen they love it. bellowing at 7.30am.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
i don't understand.

All music is mathematics. Technically, non-mathematical music doesn't exist. Intuitive non-rational music is a bit of a myth.

Of course, like in football, the improv players think at much faster speeds than we associate with active thought. and hence we use the somewhat mystical concept of the subconscious, but the subconscious is technically still a part of the consciousness, or at least, is formed by developments of ones consciousness from the infant stage.

There is no such thing as a collective unconscious, this is unscientific. there is consciousness and its subconscious reciprocal element. But the unconscious as a kind of collective archetype that people are born into is theocratic guff sneaked in to accord with secularism.
 
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