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Modern Games of Chicken: We're All Playing On The Shoulders Of Giants

The Weekly Takeaway is a short weekly digest sent to subscribers every Sunday about the biggest learning of my week. It's as much an internal log as it is public facing. Though, often I feel the process is something everyone can learn from — no matter the endeavor — so sharing here on the interwebs, as well.

Photo Credit: Woody Kelly, Upslash The Weekly Takeaway: Sometimes it's important (or at least fun) to reflect on all the things that enable you to do what you do today.

This week, in the spirit of reflection that the holidays sometimes bring, I was struck by the sheer distance we, as a world, have come in music (and beyond). That old idea of compounding came into full focus. The fact that I can make mediocre music in my bedroom is just proof of how far we’ve come. In a YouTube video I recently watched of a "DIY musician" showing off his home studio, he kept mentioning that all you really need is a mic and a computer. “Just a mic and a computer?!,” I kept thinking. What about all the prerequisites needed to create that mic and computer — the sequestration of electricity, the understanding of metals and alloys needed to make the chips and computer body, the fundamental societal idea of specialization that afforded experts the time to be able to focus and expand limited areas of knowledge instead of just pure day-to-day survival. There are so many, many things, from all areas of life, that allow me to open that laptop and plug in that mic so simply. Sometimes it hits me a little too hard, but I find it amazing to think about.

Even the ideas that we now know as music theory are a culmination of human ingenuity. From early homo sapiens grooving to the sounds of their own hums and the unorganized rhythms of sticks, we slowly learned that you can isolate certain notes. For example, the act of strumming different width strings gave us one way to easily categorize and recreate this one note. And then we learned that we can amplify those sounds in interesting ways by vibrating those stings over cavities, like in a guitar. And then we decided (in Western Music, at the very least) that we should simplify all the different vibrations into just 12 notes in repeating octaves. And then we learned how to use those notes more efficiently in a complex system of harmonics and rhythm, mastered by Bach and bastardized by pop.

But, also true, is that music’s core elements haven't really changed beyond all the processing, technology and advancements. At least not the things that really matter, the things that speak to the human soul. As long as we can sing, we can make a melody. As long as we can clap and stomp, we can make a rhythm to go along with it. And as long as we live, that will always be enough to make us move. Soccer came to me as a solid metaphor for this same tech tug-of-war. There will always be advancements, better cleats, better ways to train, better balls that travel more consistently when kicked. But the core component of what we love about it will never change. The competition. The simple game of trying to stop another team from scoring and attempting to score on them.

More Inspiration On This Subject:

Lyric Of The Week That Stuck In My Head:

"You don't have to be angry

Turn it into something you can use

You don't have to be lonely

Find someone to talk to

You don't have to be tired

While you're still going out every night

You don't have to try anymore

That's the only way we get it right"

Song - Golden Age by Chris Staples

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