Constraints

by greycoopers

“In 1966, soon after the Beatles had finished work on “Rubber Soul”, Paul McCartney looked into the possibility of going to America to record their next album.  The equipment in American studios was more advanced than anything in Britain, which had led the Beatles’ great rivals, the Rolling Stones, to make their latest album, “Aftermath”, in Los Angeles.  McCartney found that EMI’s contractual clauses made it prohibitively expensive to follow suit, and the Beatles had to make do with the primitive technology of Abbey Road.

Lucky for us.  Over the next two years they made their most ground-breaking work, turning the recording studio into a magical instrument of its own.  Precisely because they were working with old-fashioned machines, George Martin and his team of engineers were forced to apply every ounce of their ingenuity to solve the problems posed to them by Lennon and McCartney.  Songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and “A Day in the Life” featured revolutionary aural effects that dazzled and mystified Martin’s American counterparts.”

Ian Leslie.  “The uses of difficulty”.  Intelligent Life Magazine.

I am sure we can all think of situations like the one described above where people have done their best work when pushed into a corner and faced with apparently insurmountable odds.  While I cannot think of a situation when this has been true for me, I know from recent experience while tackling a creative endeavour that imposing sensible limits in my project remit and choice of tools has helped me to achieve better results.  It does not matter whether the constraints are due to circumstances or self-imposed.  And contrary to what our instincts suggest, constraints may be our best friend.

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