Enough comparisons to Eno’s Oblique Strategies have been popping up in reviews of Hexadic that it has made me wonder: have I been too oblique myself in describing the Hexadic system? Let me explain some differences (and similarities).
- The Hexadic system presents the actual notes that one plays (or can play: they represent possible notes). It also determines the time allowed for such notes to be played. The cards may also determine intensity factors.
- Oblique Strategies does not present any notes. It presents creative ideas with the intent to change specific conceptual strategies.
- Oblique Strategies initially existed as special cards that were unique to themselves.
- The Hexadic system uses regular playing cards that can be found anywhere.
- The Hexadic system relies not only on chance, but also on combinatorial methods. In that way it is much more aligned with Gysin than Eno.
- The main influence on the Hexadic system is the thought of Gaston Bachelard, and in particular his ideas of rupture.
Though Eno has mentioned he was concerned with the idea of habit, my thoughts on habit deal specifically with guitar and are more influenced by this interview with Jun Kosugi, Maki Miura, and the late great Yasushi Ozawa.
It is true that we are making our own set of playing cards. These are a regular deck of poker cards that one could use to play cribbage with their mother if they wanted. There will be special markings on the cards that are aligned with the system, but you certainly don’t need them to use the system. The aesthetics of a deck of cards has always appealed to me. The fact that tarot was born from a standard deck of cards, the history of the ace of spades, the divinatory past of games, these are all exciting things to me. Making these cards is way more influenced by the Jeu de Marseille. It is funny that some folks have implied that the record was designed to sell the cards. That would be sort of like manufacturing a car because one has a great idea for a bumper sticker.
I could go on but I’ve got to get going with my day. If anyone would like to talk with me about this sort of stuff, I’d love to. I guess I will just end by saying that though I admire the systems of Cage and Eno (and Zorn), they are not the only artists that have used chance and games. For instance, Mozart was throwing dice around in 1787. If anyone is interested in diving deeper into systems that deal with combination, chance, language and music, this essay is great: Words Made Flesh. Hexadic is not new, but neither is playing the guitar and putting out records.