Nick's Notes

Nicks Notes

As often when writing my blog I have my headphones on and music playing. That is partly because of my love of music, partly the effect of working in an open plan office and needing to focus, and partly to be inspired.

Depending on my mood I listen to very many types of music, and I listen to music a lot. But I return to a few specific pieces many, many times. Others I listen to, enjoy and move on when they have no more to say to me. I love rock music, and as background music some of the long, complex and intriguing works from bands such as Yes, and Pink Floyd frequently boom out while I’m processing photographs at home.

But there is another level of music which for me has no parallel in the contemporary world. It repays frequent deep listening, and it gets that level of attention simply because no matter how many times I listen I get something new from it. To give the type of music a label, like “classical” is to diminish it, because there is a wide variation of what I like within that genre. But I have never found any work of equivalent complexity nor ability to surprise even after many hearings in any other category. Of course, listening while thinking and typing is hardly deep listening. I’m just wishing I could take around 2 hours to complete my blog, as I’m currently listening to Bach’s Mass in B Minor, which was completed in 1749, just one year before Bach’s death – giving lie to idea that inspired creativity is exclusively the preserve of the young. Bach lived until he was 65.

People will tell you Bach’s music is very mathematical, with repeating patterns and complexities. The Mass in B Minor is considered by scholars to be one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but I don’t care – simply because it sounds wonderful. Headphones, even stupidly expensive headphones, don’t do it justice. The Royal Albert Hall just about does – that building is nearly big enough to hold the sheer scale and presence of the music.

Albert Einstein when asked if it was possible to describe everything scientifically replied that it is but that would be meaningless, like describing a Beethoven symphony in terms of a sound pressure wave. A different composer, also capable of great depth, but you get the point.

I’ve talked about the lack of “IT poets” previously. But this time I’m on a different track. We talk a lot in meetings about the value of IT. Of course value needs to be delivered, but it shouldn’t be necessary to measure it “scientifically”; rather the value should be felt viscerally and in depth.

It should be unthinkable for any company to believe that they would be better off without IT, and especially without the conductor, composer and guiding mind, the CIO.

When did you last hear someone in your business make that qualitative case for what you and your team are producing? How do you start to work at that level?

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