There is a flow to creativity. Sometimes it’s there and that’s when one has to follow its trail, absolutely. Record whatever it is that wants to get out, come through, arise, however it can be done. Sometimes it’s not there. On those days I will obsess over reverb decays or the equalization of some element however small. I spent most of this afternoon working on a massive reverb for a short bowed bass note that I wanted to be the last sound of the piece.

It’s difficult to know ahead of time which way the wind blows. Sometimes one recognizes what’s happening immediately, one feels the invincible flow of creativity, one feels switched ON. Sometimes one can feel the struggle. For me that’s the sign to start working on details, or make a new mix of something in progress. Those hours are just as useful and feel just as necessary.

Music and Aliens

If Aliens visit Earth, the only reason they will let us live, in my opinion, is that we make some pretty great music. We are shit at taking care of each other and the Fauna and Flora of this planet, but the music is something that will impress the aliens. Play Kind of Blue again, the Alien commander orders, music is their saving grace.

My Afternoon

Met Rahim at 1400. After some coffee, and after another patron accidentally toppled the oud case – the crash was loud but the instrument was unharmed – we drove to my hotel, where we talked and played some music. I wonder how many guests wondered about the sounds emanating from my room, the guitar, the oud, and occasionally Rahim singing.


Tonight I sat with one of my very best friends, whose dad just passed. The moon hung over us unseen, as we talked about making music and waxed toward our brightest selves and felt dad and moon nonetheless there with us. I would not trade that for anything.

There has been a lot of talk lately about replacing art, and the artifacts of humanity’s questioning reach into the unknown, with facsimiles generated by machines trying to extract its essence.

I say that’s rubbish. Real creativity, by its nature, is impossible to replicate or pinpoint. It is like water, and will seep its way through the smallest crevice until it opens into a floodgate. There is no faking it. There is no escaping it.

If you can live with crap for your art, blow yourself away. I, for one, want to hear and sing a real song with my friend. If you’re with me, say so. And the rest of y’all, please keep your formulas on your side of the fence.

Robby Rothschild on Instagram

Michael Rhodes

Jon sent me this link and remembered that I had done a fashion show with the great bass player Michael Rhodes, who died on Saturday. Although I hadn’t seen Rhodes since 1991 he came to mind immediately. I searched for images from the 1991 Yamamoto menswear shows in Paris or Tokyo – I think Michael was in both shows, as was I – and quickly found this image on somebody’s Yamamoto Pinterest.
Michael Rhodes
Michael Rhodes, David Lindley, and Wayne Shorter gone, all in a week.

In Finite

I wonder how long it would take today’s super computers to run through every possible variation of musical notes of a four bar length. Tempo, rhythm, pitch, duration – to us the possible combinations seem infinite… but, of course, they aren’t.

In the podcast I linked to yesterday, Ezra Klein mentioned a classic period sci-fi story he read years ago. The short story described a musician who composes a piece for his wife. When the musician finds out that his composition is not original and that, in fact, an AI somewhere already created the same sequence of chords and the exact same melody… he kills himself.

If a super computer or AI could run every possible sequence of musical notes and the owners of the AI were allowed to copyright all of those variations… what would that mean for humans?

I find this an interesting topic that can open up into a vast conversation about creativity and originality, about individuality and uniqueness.