Smooth Criminal: Shredding the Cello

Two cellos, literally shredding their bows in an acoustic arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. The performance is to classical music what Center Stage was to classical ballet. Forget the bad acting. It’s the unfakable intensity of the musical performance that had me (really) clenching my jaw as Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic saw through the strings, tearing the hair out of their instruments.

There is something captivating about classically trained musicians crossing over into other genres. It’s same something that allows me to enjoy moments of television shows like So You Think You Can Dance. I learned the piano from a young age, which I think accounts for my appreciation of classical music. Certainly, my obsession with any music involving the piano. I can still play the piano, but I’d estimate I’m at least 5000 hours of intense, focussed practice away from being able to call myself classically trained.

Now to advertising. It’s a long bow, I know. But if you’ve made it this far, you’ve obviously got more than the 4 minutes it took you to watch that YouTube clip, to waste on this post.

In the world of agency planners, having a research background is the equivalent of being “classically trained”. I envy these classically trained planners for their ability to boil complex human behaviour down to one line of ‘insight’ and justify it with research numbers pulled from the 10,000 hours of case studies and campaigns they’ve consumed. It’s very hard to argue with them. But according to a handful of people I respect, that’s not the essence of a great planner. I suppose for anyone who is classically trained, there’s a risk of compromising feeling/empathy in the pursuit of technical brilliance.

At the expense of being classically trained (or specialising) in any one area I’ve had a lot of really interesting experiences (some enjoyable, some horrific) that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Even so, feelings of inadequacy peak when challenged to speak deeply a particular topic and subsides in moments when my general knowledge allows me to make lateral connections between concepts that wouldn’t be possible without the somewhat unique periphery of experiences stored in my mind.

Full disclosure: I’d like to be a planner. Ha!

[via Dooby Brain]

  • Rob Campbell

    This is a great post and I get the analogy.

    I am a huge fan of people who have technical skill and advanced capabilities … however inkeeping with the musical analogy, if you cannot execute your piece without genuine understanding of what it is supposed to represent, then it may be beautiful to hear, but ultimately fail to move people emotionally … and given planning is about connecting to people, emotional resonance is key.

    PS: I would also say that if you have identified insight that can emotional resonate with people, then you are demonstrating an ability to work at the highest levels of technical skill, albeit without allowing the beauty of the insight to be boiled out – which to me, is a representation of an even higher ability. But I would say that wouldn’t I, ha!

    Great post.

  • http://pitythecool.com Andy

    Thanks Rob.

    If we were having this conversation on your blog I’d make some cynical/smart-ass/sarcastic remark. But we’re not.

    I hope to see this unicorn of the planning world in action some day.