I’m reading (or rather listening) to David Byrne’s captivating book How Music Works, an examination of the universality to, well, how music works. As the conversation transitioned from conversational to confessional he was surprisingly blunt about how he carved out his own piece of musical history.
“It was mathematics,” Mr. Byrne writes. “When you subtract all the unwanted stuff from something, art or music, what do you have left?” While this quote comes across as a little heavy handed and formulaic (Mr. Byrne confesses to having a mild form of Aspergers) there is a deeper truth embedded in its logic.
Take your favourite artist and try to pull back the layers to his or her body of work. The further you delve, the more you’ll find that this wide array of influences are nothing more than additions and subtractions of what has come before.