Starting

I often improvise on piano, and I sometimes find some really cool stuff to play, and enjoy myself greatly. But I never memorize any of what happens, I don’t write it down, and I’m not sure how to get there again.

Most of the time I play, though, I do get to an interesting place – so I’m reasonably certain that if I start, I can find something. And often, I don’t know how to start.

So I thought – I need a standard way to start. And I thought that this would be useful not just for piano, but for everything I do – a standard way to get into it, that is nothing like the thing itself, but that always leads to the target thing flowing well.

I’d love to work out many different ways to start, and keep working out new ones. But I think someone who truly knows their craft always knows some standard openings. A chess maestro has them memorized.

For piano, the way I think of advanced flows should be ever more sophisticated versions of simple structures – which take me no effort to derive and memorize, but that in fact have the property that they can be expanded infinitely.

For software, I feel like I should never be at a loss of ideas for the next most important thing to change in the world that contributes to my goals the most. My standard way of getting into the years-long flow is notes. And they have to work on every scale of time – from my day to day, to the intermediate milestone, to the grand vision; opening them should enable me to think about every scale of the problem.

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