JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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The genius of AND vs the tyranny of OR.

I was at a press event for Cloudera, a big data company, earlier today and one of the speakers started off with the statement “the genius of AND vs the tyranny of OR.” It was a good statement for the data world, where cost forces hard choices between what data to keep vs. what data to toss. But what about songwriting? Is there a tyranny of OR? And is AND really genius?

No and no.

In songwriting OR is good. If you’re not making hard choices, not carving away fat and discarding your babies for the greater good, you’re probably not coming up with much that’s worthwhile.

And what of AND? Is it really a good idea to layer on harmony after harmony or more chords or bridges or pre-choruses? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, I like pre-choruses and middle 8s to a fault, but I know that the real challenge is to write a verse and chorus so good you don’t need extra elements to keep the song interesting. Creedence was the best at this.

In songwriting, OR is genius. (Okay, a tyrannical genius.)