the Invisible Other

I’m working around an idea that most times when you play, there’s someone else in the room. Not in the physical sense of playing with other people, though that may well be the case, but you invite an invisible other in with you. Someone to watch over you. I’m supposing that if you’re brimming with self-confidence, your Invisible Other might be particularly encouraging, beaming happily at you while you play. I’m a Depressive, so my IO’s tend towards the negative, though that isn’t necessarily a totally bad thing – i need to improve, and i need someone (even an invisible someone) to tell me where. The danger is that a constant diet of criticism grinds you down after a while, so you have to keep those IO’s in check.


Why would you need to know this, anyway? Well, there are times and uses for these people, and there are times when you just need to be alone in the room, and just play. You especially don’t need the Invisible Others when you are actually playing with real people; you just need to tune out the voices and be in the moment. There’s no need of either criticism or praise at that point.


Invisible Others is why a lot of pop bands struggle with their second albums: the first one was done for themselves to have a good time to. By the time it’s time to write the second one, the first has sold a quarter of a million, and that’s an awful lot of Invisible Others in the room, auditing every note. No wonder the writing collapses under all that attention.


An interesting case of using IO’s positively, though, is the Cadavre Esquis website, as recently documented on ‘Imperfect Silence’ (whi 010) . For those who aren’t familiar, this involves people creating a track that someone else then downloads, adds a layer to and then uploads for further layering. You have no discretion about what comes after; it’s merely a case of trusting the process. But when you’re playing, there’s very definitely an Invisible Other around, the unknown, unmet person who’ll be duetting with you at a later date. And that’s a very welcome presence.

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