Oblique strategies

Oblique strategies is the name of a deck of cards published by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt where each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation.

Here is a compilation of all the freely available phrases across all the different editions:

  • (Organic) machinery
  • [blank white card]
  • A line has two sides
  • A very small object -Its centre
  • Abandon desire
  • Abandon normal instructions
  • Abandon normal instruments
  • Accept advice
  • Accretion
  • Adding on
  • Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)
  • Always first steps
  • Always give yourself credit for having more than personality (given by Arto Lindsay)
  • Always the first steps
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions
  • Ask people to work against their better judgement
  • Ask your body
  • Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group
  • back
  • Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
  • Be dirty
  • Be extravagant
  • Be less critical
  • Be less critical more often
  • Breathe more deeply
  • Bridges -build -burn
  • Cascades
  • Change ambiguities to specifics
  • Change instrument roles
  • Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
  • Change specifics to ambiguities
  • Children -speaking -singing
  • Children’s voices -speaking -singing
  • Cluster analysis
  • Consider different fading systems
  • Consider transitions
  • 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; Destroy the most important thing
  • Discard an axiom
  • Disciplined self-indulgence
  • Disconnect from desire
  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
  • Discover your formulas and abandon them
  • Display your talent
  • Distort time
  • Distorting time
  • Do nothing for as long as possible
  • Do something boring
  • Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable
  • Do the last thing first
  • Do the washing up
  • Do the words need changing?
  • Do we need holes?
  • Don’t avoid what is easy
  • 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
  • Emphasise differences
  • Emphasise repetitions
  • Emphasise the flaws
  • Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)
  • Feed the recording back out of the medium
  • Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation
  • Fill every beat with something
  • Find a safe part and use it as an anchor
  • From nothing to more than nothing
  • Get your neck massaged
  • Ghost echoes
  • Give the game away
  • Give way to your worst impulse
  • Go outside. Shut the door.
  • Go slowly all the way round the outside
  • Go to an extreme, come part way back
  • Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place
  • Honor thy error as a hidden intention
  • How would someone else do it?
  • How would you have done it?
  • Humanise something free of error
  • Idiot glee (?)
  • Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar
  • Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events
  • In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly
  • Infinitesimal gradations
  • Intentions -nobility of -humility of -credibility of
  • Into the impossible
  • Is it finished?
  • Is something missing?
  • Is the intonation correct?
  • Is the style right?
  • Is the tuning appropriate?
  • Is the tuning intonation correct?
  • Is there something missing?
  • It is quite possible (after all)
  • It is simply a matter or work
  • Just carry on
  • Left channel, right channel, centre 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 centre
  • Look at the order in which you do things
  • Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them
  • Lost in useless territory
  • Lowest common denominator
  • Magnify the most difficult details
  • Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
  • Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
  • Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
  • Make it more sensual
  • Make what’s perfect more human
  • Mechanicalise something idiosyncratic
  • Move towards the unimportant
  • Mute and continue
  • Not building a wall; making a brick
  • Once the search has begun, something will be found
  • Only a part, not the whole
  • Only one element of each kind
  • Openly resist change
  • Overtly resist change
  • Pae White’s non-blank graphic metacard
  • Put in earplugs
  • Question the heroic approach
  • Remember .those quiet evenings
  • Remember quiet evenings
  • Remove a restriction
  • Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics
  • Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
  • Repetition is a form of change
  • Retrace your steps
  • Revaluation (a warm feeling)
  • Reverse
  • Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)
  • Shut the door and listen from outside
  • Simple subtraction
  • Simply a matter of work
  • Slow preparation, fast execution
  • Spectrum analysis
  • State the problem as clearly as possible
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible
  • State the problem in words as simply as possible
  • Take a break
  • Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance
  • Take away the important parts
  • Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)
  • The inconsistency principle
  • The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten
  • The tape is now the music
  • Think – inside the work -outside the work
  • Think of the radio
  • Tidy up
  • Towards the insignificant
  • Trust in the you of now
  • Try faking it (from Stewart Brand)
  • Turn it upside down
  • Twist the spine
  • Use ‘unqualified’ people
  • Use an old idea
  • Use an unacceptable colour
  • Use cliches
  • Use fewer notes
  • Use filters
  • Use something nearby as a model
  • Use your own ideas
  • Voice your suspicions
  • Water
  • What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving
  • What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
  • What context would look right?
  • What is the reality of the situation?
  • What is the simplest solution?
  • What mistakes did you make last time?
  • What to increase? What to reduce? What to maintain?
  • What were you really thinking about just now?
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What wouldn’t you do?
  • When is it for?
  • Where is the edge?
  • Which parts can be grouped?
  • Work at a different speed
  • Would anybody want it?
  • Would anyone want it?
  • 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
  • Your mistake was a hidden intention

If you ever feel stuck use them and let me how they helped you!

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