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Miles Davis and software design

by Greg Robertson on May 26th, 2016

It’s the 90th anniversary of the birth of Miles Davis. The birth of cool, so to speak. I’ve been reading a lot about him today and some of his quotes struck me as being good advice for anyone designing software.

I love this one…

“I always listen to what I can leave out.”

and this…

“It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

And then there’s this story about a Miles and my favorite, John Coltrane.

“Onetime Davis bandmate John Coltrane was capable of life-altering saxophone solos. Hear his efforts on “Psalm,” which is like being slowly led by hand to the glorious summit of a cloud-scraping mountain, or “I Want to Talk About You,” whose extended cadenza is the musical equivalent of a boxer skillfully working a speed bag. But Davis wanted none of this. When Coltrane tried to rationalize his lengthy solos by explaining that he couldn’t find a way to stop, Davis quipped, “You might try taking the fucking horn out of your mouth.”

The great ones always transcend.

From → Love

  1. David Charron permalink

    Great post! Nicely done. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Great words to live by Greg! And not JUST for software development! 🙂

  3. Chris Carrillo permalink

    Greg – As a society we need more of this! Thx much!

  4. What a great post, Greg. When I was 21 years old and learning the ropes in a huge Regional Sales position, my Sales Director bought us all the Kind of Blue CD and instructed us to listen to it repeatedly. He told us that sales is like music, you have to know when to speak and what to say to make an impact. Then, you need to sit in the silence and let the silence do the selling. Kind of Blue is a manifesto to power playing: knowing what to play that brings the listener to the edge in crescendo and then using the power in silence as the actual climax. Musical genius.

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