How It Wasn't Made

2024-06-24

In my foundering yet ongoing efforts to stop using YouTube I occasionally get recommended music production videos recreating famous tracks. These are often titled as “How It Was Made(!!!)” and focus on reassembling the final song from its constituent parts. This isn’t a post denigrating those videos, some of which are excellent and informative, but they do have me wondering if there is a broad misrepresentation of the creative act happening.

Cinema Tyler is a great example of a youtube channel that engages with the multiverse nature of creativity.

I consider the final output of a piece of work to be the outcome of an enormous sequence of decisions and circumstances. Not every decision will be 'correct', there will be false turns. Some lead to new insights and directions, others to frustration (and/or ruin). So a piece of work actually also the ghosts of all the possibilities that surrounded it during its creation. These alternate versions cannot be perceived by an audience but they are fundamental to what the work became. These ghosts or 'negative space' are part scaffold, part mould, part map (just to further mix and stretch metaphors).

In light of this, the “How It Was Made” presentation is a fallacy of sorts. Perhaps “How it ended-up” is closer to the truth. Second to this, these videos imply that a creative person at their top of their game is able to make a sequence of brilliant decisions one after another without mistake. This is afterall the format the youtube videos take. While experience does allow a creator to pre-emptively discount many poor decisions without having to entertain them the creative act is always more complex and (hopefully) playful than simply being a single path to its outputs.

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