List of All Oblique Strategies

May 24, 2022

Oblique Strategies is a method jointly devised by the musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt to overcome creative blocks. It was initially published as a set of cards containing a single provocative prompt. I've included all of them here in case they might be helpful.

The earliest decks included this instruction  –

These cards evolved from our separate observations on the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case, the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear. They are not final, as new ideas will present themselves, and others will become self-evident.
  • Abandon normal instruments
  • Accept advice
  • Accretion
  • A line has two sides
  • Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions
  • Ask people to work against their better judgment
  • Ask your body
  • Assemble some of the instruments in a group and treat the group
  • Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
  • Be dirty
  • Breathe more deeply
  • Bridges -build -burn
  • Cascades
  • Change instrument roles
  • Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
  • Children's voices -speaking -singing
  • Cluster analysis
  • Consider different fading systems
  • Consult other sources -promising -unpromising
  • Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element
  • Courage!
  • Cut a vital connection
  • Decorate, decorate
  • Define an area as `safe' and use it as an anchor
  • Destroy -nothing -the most important thing
  • Discard an axiom
  • Disconnect from desire
  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
  • Distorting time
  • Do nothing for as long as possible
  • Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to do
  • Don't be frightened of cliches
  • Don't be frightened to display your talents
  • Don't break the silence
  • Don't stress one thing more than another
  • Do something boring
  • Do the washing up
  • Do the words need changing?
  • Do we need holes?
  • Emphasize differences
  • Emphasize repetitions
  • Emphasize the flaws
  • Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Roth)
  • Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation
  • Fill every beat with something
  • Get your neck massaged
  • Ghost echoes
  • Give the game away
  • Give way to your worst impulse
  • Go slowly all the way round the outside
  • Honor thy error as a hidden intention
  • How would you have done it?
  • Humanize something free of error
  • Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar
  • Imagine the music as a set of disconnected events
  • Infinitesimal gradations
  • Intentions -credibility of -nobility of -humility of
  • Into the impossible
  • Is it finished?
  • Is there something missing?
  • Is the tuning appropriate?
  • Just carry on
  • Left channel, right channel, center channel
  • Listen in total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly
  • Listen to the quiet voice
  • Look at a very small object; look at its center
  • Look at the order in which you do things
  • Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them
  • Lowest common denominator check -single beat -single note -single
  • riff
  • Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
  • Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last
  • thing on the list
  • Make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable action; incorporate
  • Mechanicalize something idiosyncratic
  • Mute and continue
  • Only one element of each kind
  • (Organic) machinery
  • Overtly resist change
  • Put in earplugs
  • Remember those quiet evenings
  • Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics
  • Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
  • Repetition is a form of change
  • Reverse
  • Short circuit
  • improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)
  • Shut the door and listen from outside
  • Simple subtraction
  • Spectrum analysis
  • Take a break
  • Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance
  • Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)
  • The inconsistency principle
  • The tape is now the music
  • Think of the radio
  • Tidy up
  • Trust in the you of now
  • Turn it upside down
  • Twist the spine
  • Use an old idea
  • Use an unacceptable color
  • Use fewer notes
  • Use filters
  • Use "unqualified" people
  • Water
  • What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
  • What is the reality of the situation?
  • What mistakes did you make last time?
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What wouldn't you do?
  • Work at a different speed
  • You are an engineer
  • You can only make one dot at a time
  • You don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideas
  • [blank white card]
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