Author Archive for John Green – Page 2

Avishai Cohen

Here’s a great jazz video my jazz guitar buddy showed me the other day.  This is Avishai Cohen and his trio; Cohen is the bassist here.  What I like about this original is how it pushes the edges of what we normally hear, but doesn’t sound weird.  This song has a driving feel because of it’s odd time signature (it’s in 7/8).

Comment, Listen, Enjoy!

Jazz of the Day!

Today’s jazz feature is Blue Rondo A La Turk by Dave Brubeck.  This is another one of Dave’s songs with atypical rhythms.  This song happens to be in 9/8.  Enjoy!



Dave Brubeck applied to Design

One of my jazz heroes is Dave Brubeck because of how he challenges the typical format of music, but does so without completely throwing western civilization out the window.  Dave Brubeck knows that the key to any good design (or anything creative) is pattern with variation.  There’s a fine line between having good discipline and getting attention.

A good example of Dave Brubeck’s masterful creativity is in his song “Unsquare Dance”.  Most songs have about 3 or 4 beats per measure.  In this song, Dave uses 7. The song is in 7/8 for all my music theory junkies out there.  It is incredibly hard to play with an odd number of beats like this, but Dave “phrases” his song in such a way that it sounds almost normal.  This work is just different enough to grab your attention, but not so outlandish that you have to think about it too hard.

Make your work stand out, but not in a way that detracts from the message you’re trying to send.

Problems with being creative?

I have noticed that there either people who are super creative with crazy ideas and who make tons of non-linear connections but lack discipline, or there are people who are very hard-working and smart, but can’t come up with a good tagline to save their life.  I’ve noticed this in the musical world too with jazz vs. classical musicians.

To the creatives: almost anyone can push keys on a piano, but if you have discipline and become an expert at your craft, your ideas will have even more possibilities and you will be able to back your ideas yourself.  People may not notice if you fake it, but they will notice if you know what you’re doing.

To the hard-working: don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  It takes a lot of courage and thick skin to put yourself out there.  You will fail and sound foolish at first when you start “improvising” or “creating”.  It’s just like when children first learn how to talk.  First you learn basic sounds, then some essential words, and after a while you speak full sentences.  You will never learn how to speak with your mouth shut.  Listen to the pros in the industry, and then try it for yourself.  My jazz prof in college said there are two things that will make you an improv pro: listening and playing.  Put your hard work to good use and don’t be afraid to fail.  Everyone starts somewhere.

Brand is Everything

Branding is one of those buzz-words that you hear a lot in marketing textbooks, but I think a lot of people (especially non-marketers) forget where that term comes from and what it actually means.

Branding is about as American as apple pie, baseball, and jazz.  Branding is what cowboys on the frontier (some still do it today) would do to mark their cattle and distinguish them from another ranch.  What these ranchers would do is take the cow, tie it down and then use a branding iron (a hot piece of metal with a special design on one end) and then literally burn their personal design into the side of the animal.  It kind of sucks to be the cow, but this allowed the cowboys to know who was “theirs”.


The analogy really holds true to modern-day branding.  You can think of yourself and company as a “cowboy” and your customers as the “cows”.  To brand, you need 3 things: heat, contact, and pressure .

Heat is whatever excites people about your company.  If it’s not exciting or even relevant, why even bother?

Contact is how you plan to talk to your customers.  Figure out what media outlets they use, and position yourself to actually help your customers.  It’s vital to figure out who will see you and how.  Even if you are a great company, if you don’t talk to the right people you’ve wasted everyone’s time.

Pressure is how often you share your message.  If it works, don’t change it!  Things become “catchy” with repetition.  Things become “catchy” with repetition.  The face of your company (your brand) must be consistent.

A successful brand will leave a lasting impression with your customers.  If your brand is just burning people and not leaving a “mark”, try adding either more heat, contact, or pressure.




The Creative Process and Jazz

How do we create?  How do we take random things, and make them into something interesting and useful?

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

I have a small jazz trio, and at one of our first gigs we had about an hour’s worth of music “prepared”.  We played well, and people loved us so much that the guy who asked us to play at his restaurant wanted us to play for two more hours!  We were excited that they wanted us to keep playing–but we had run out of music!  So we did what humans do best: improvise.  We took some basic chord progressions and quickly decided on the right “feel” for the next song, and decided on some basic ques, and went with it.  It worked.


Granted, we are all experienced musicians (so we weren’t just making noise), but for all intensive purposes we created 2 hours completely new music without “practicing”.  We were able to do this because we had that foundation of experience and a decided form to go off of, and decided on a “lead” (someone who would take-point) for each new song.

I think the creative process boils down to:

  • Decide on a leader who can complement the group
  • Think through what you want to communicate
  • Have a form (the chords) and then forget it as the song dictates
  • Have the technical ability to back your ideas


The Power of Group Momentum

With all of the news hype about our “Government shutdown” lately in the news, I have been very interested in seeing the relationship between how individuals act by themselves, and how a group of people act when they are together.  More specifically, which is easier to affect?  For us marketing people, affecting people is our job–so it’s important to know how this works!

We often think of groups of people as these large, slow, ambiguous beings that take lots of motivation to get to do anything.  That’s because changing the whole group does take energy, but some groups respond to changes faster than others.  Why?  I have found that changing the group momentum is all about changing the momentum of the people with the most influence within that group.  The question becomes not so much about how you affect people, but who.

Here’s an interesting video I found that shows 32 metronomes started at random times that end up syncing up.  I think this video not only shows the power of group momentum how much influence each metronome has on the group.

This experiment has these metronomes lined up on a grid, and having about the same amount of “effect” on each other. It takes about 2 minutes for half of the group to do the same thing, and by 3 minutes they are all together. It’s amazing how they all “want” to do the same thing, and how the two metronomes in the corner affected the entire group.


Here’s another clip from Bug’s Life that talks about what a benefit–or threat–one individual can have over your group:

Key Take-Aways about group momentum:

  • Never under-estimate the power of what one person can do (for good or bad!)
  • People want to be in “sync”
  • Change the right people–change the group