A chance to be generous

If you want something from someone else, it’s probably a good strategy to offer this person a chance to do it out of generosity. Allowing them to feel good about themselves in exchange for a smile and a little gratitude. Win-win.

To demand something in a commanding way can be counterproductive. Suddenly there’s no fun in giving in. Instead of two winners, there are going to be one … well, maybe two losers. Bad mood and good times wasted on whining and arguing.

This might sound like common sense. And common sense is what I need to teach my kids. But when writing this I realize I probably should practice what I preach more. After all the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the tree would be pretty stupid blaming its fruit for it.

License to suck

AI is coming. We’ve all heard it. Depending on your knowledge your view of it may be more or less vague. Machine learning. Deep machine learning. There are many buzzwords for sure and a lot of people using them wrong or half-wrong. I better watch my tongue.

AI is seeping into music too. I think there was some artificial popstar from Japan or Korea a few years back. But AI is available for us all. Google Magenta is a series of free AI-powered tools for music making that can be used with Ableton Live. Helping your beats groove like your favourite drummer or continuing on the melody you’ve only written half of.

I’m sure the tools can be great and could take me in interesting directions. Still, I haven’t used them. Maybe that could be a challenge?

Anyway, for me the promise/threat of AI raises the question of humanity. What’s human in our music, what is important? What makes it feel real? I don’t intend to enter into any discussion if acoustic or finger-played instruments are more human than programmed, or let’s say quantized midi.

Maybe it is the human esthetic decision making that is important? Because no matter if I program my notes or play them in my choices will reflect my taste, my experience of the music that I’ve heard.

There’s this quote by Brian Eno:

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided.”

Well, what if we think about the human body as a medium for music? Its imperfections can now be avoided. We have auto-tune, we can correct mistakes, quantize and move notes in time.

Will this make pitchy vocal takes more desirable? I think we might already be there. AI can also emulate ”perfect imperfection” – perfectly lazy grooves slightly behind the beat etc, even with random mistakes thrown in for extra human-ness.

How do we compete? Do we need to? What is important? What do we want our music to be? Communication? Are we fine with the music equivalent of the AI-powered talk-bots we are getting at call centers?

I find asking myself these questions more interesting than any special answer. But lately I’ve had a growing feeling of my ”crapness” being allowed. There’s no best. There’s just different. Also when it comes to music equipment. I’m feeling less ashamed of my technical limitations on my instruments. I’m not the world’s best singer, guitarist – but neither am I the world’s best friend, dad or partner. I’m not even the worst. I’m half-crap in my own unique way. In music, as well as in life.

Maybe we’re not loved in spite of our shortcomings, but because of them.

Rain is cruel

It snowed. And now it rains. Snow rarely stays around here. It used to when I was a child. Knowing white joy is short lived, my children finally saw a reason to leave their screens inside and head out.

I was raised to respect food. I always feel bad for the carrot. On the other hand I’d be willing to sacrifice a lot more on the altar of creativity for the chance of my kids making stuff.


I met Nicole in Mannheim, Germany. It was April 1994 and I had just left my military service in Northern Sweden and gone straight to Southern Germany to learn the language. It was a drastic change of scenery. From living in tents in -35 degrees Celcius to long warm nights with a drink outside.

Nicole had a Swedish boyfriend and wanted me to teach her Swedish, in return she would teach me German. It sounded like a great idea, so we began to hang out in cafés, biergartens. Nicole was a sunny soul, full of life. She was a few years older, drove an Audi cabriolet and showed me the scenery outside the city. For 20 year old me, it was a blast. Riding on the autobahn cabbed down with the warm summer winds blowing. Just having been released from a uniform – it was Freedom.

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