Oblique Strategies

This page shows a collection of the cards from the five "official" Oblique Strategies decks.

On some screens the width controls may not appear to do anything because the page must stay wide enough to display the full table.

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Enough has been written about Oblique Strategies that here is no point in repeating the details here. The short story is that they were created as an aid in solving dilemmas and as prompts to “think outside the box” or look at things in new ways.

The "official" OS website is located at http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/. A history is located at http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/osfaq2.html. I used both of these to sort out what is actually in the decks. The Oblique Strategies are copyright Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, but have been widely reproduced at many websites.

Future plans for this page include the ability to select cards from any combination of decks and to see categories of cards. But it will be a while.

Deck 1Deck 2Deck 3Deck 4Deck 5
(Organic) machinery(Organic) machinery(Organic) machinery
A line has two sidesA line has two sidesA line has two sidesA line has two sides
Abandon normal instrumentsAbandon normal instrumentsAbandon normal instrumentsAbandon normal instructionsAbandon normal instruments
Accept adviceAccept adviceAccept adviceAccept adviceAccept advice
AccretionAccretionAccretionAdding onAccretion
Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)Remove a restrictionAllow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)
Are there sections? Consider transitionsAre there sections? Consider transitionsAre there sections? Consider transitionsConsider transitionsAre there sections? Consider transitions
Ask people to work against their better judgementAsk people to work against their better judgementAsk people to work against their better judgementAsk people to work against their better judgementAsk people to work against their better judgement
Ask your bodyAsk your bodyAsk your bodyAsk your bodyAsk your body
Assemble some of the instruments in a group and treat the groupAssemble some of the instruments in a group and treat the groupAssemble some of the elements in a group and treat the groupWhich parts can be grouped?Which elements can be grouped?
Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principleBalance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principleBalance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
Be dirtyBe dirtyBe dirtyBe dirtyBe dirty
Breathe more deeplyBreathe more deeplyBreathe more deeplyBreathe more deeplyBreathe more deeply
Bridges -build -burnBridges -build -burnBridges -build -burnBridges -build -burn
CascadesCascadesCascades
Change instrument rolesChange instrument rolesChange instrument roles
Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistencyChange nothing and continue with immaculate consistencyChange nothing and continue with immaculate consistencyChange nothing and continue consistentlyChange nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
Children's voices -speaking -singingChildren's voices -speaking -singingChildren -speaking -singing
Cluster analysisCluster analysisCluster analysis
Consider different fading systemsConsider different fading systemsConsider different fading systems
Consult other sources -promising -unpromisingConsult other sources -promising -unpromisingConsult other sources -promising -unpromising
Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic elementConvert a melodic element into a rhythmic element
Courage!Courage!Courage!Courage!Courage!
Cut a vital connectionCut a vital connectionCut a vital connectionCut a vital connectionCut a vital connection
Decorate, decorateDecorate, decorateDecorate, decorateDecorate, decorateDecorate, decorate
Define an area as 'safe' and use it as an anchorDefine an area as 'safe' and use it as an anchorDefine an area as 'safe' and use it as an anchorFind a safe part and use it as an anchorDefine an area as 'safe' and use it as an anchor
Destroy -nothing -the most important thingDestroy -nothing -the most important thingDestroy -nothing -the most important thingDestroy nothing; Destroy the most important thingDestroy -nothing -the most important thing
Discard an axiomDiscard an axiomDiscard an axiomDiscard an axiomDiscard an axiom
Disconnect from desireDisconnect from desireDisconnect from desireAbandon desireDisconnect from desire
Discover the recipes you are using and abandon themDiscover the recipes you are using and abandon themDiscover the recipes you are using and abandon themDiscover your formulas and abandon themDiscover the recipes you are using and abandon them
Distorting timeDistorting timeDistorting timeDistort timeDistorting time
Do nothing for as long as possibleDo nothing for as long as possibleDo nothing for as long as possibleDo nothing for as long as possibleDo nothing for as long as possible
Do something boringDo something boringDo something boringDo something boringDo something boring
Do the washing upDo the washing up
Do the words need changing?Do the words need changing?Do the words need changing?Do the words need changing?Do the words need changing?
Do we need holes?Do we need holes?Do we need holes?Do we need holes?
Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to doDon't be afraid of things because they're easy to doDon't be afraid of things because they're easy to doDon't avoid what is easyDon't be afraid of things because they're easy to do
Don't be frightened of clichesDon't be frightened of clichesDon't be frightened of clichesUse clichesDon't be frightened of cliches
Don't be frightened to display your talentsDon't be frightened to display your talentsDon't be frightened to display your talentsDisplay your talentDon't be frightened to display your talents
Don't break the silenceDon't break the silenceDon't break the silenceDon't break the silenceDon't break the silence
Don't stress one thing more than anotherDon't stress *on* thing more than another (sic)Don't stress one thing more than anotherDon't stress one thing more than anotherDon't stress one thing more than another
Emphasise differencesEmphasise differencesEmphasise differencesEmphasize differencesEmphasise differences
Emphasise repetitionsEmphasise repetitionsEmphasise repetitions
Emphasise the flawsEmphasise the flawsEmphasise the flawsEmphasize the flawsEmphasise the flaws
Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)Faced with a choice, do both (from Dieter Rot)Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)
Feedback recordings into an acoustic situationFeed the recording back out of the medium
Fill every beat with somethingFill every beat with somethingFill every beat with something
Get your neck massagedGet your neck massaged
Ghost echoesGhost echoesGhost echoes
Give the game awayGive the game awayGive the game awayGive the game awayGive the game away
Give way to your worst impulseGive way to your worst impulseGive way to your worst impulseGive way to your worst impulseGive way to your worst impulse
Go slowly all the way round the outsideGo slowly all the way round the outsideGo slowly all the way round the outside
Honor thy error as a hidden intentionHonor thy error as a hidden intentionHonor thy error as a hidden intentionYour mistake was a hidden intentionHonor thy error as a hidden intention
How would you have done it?How would you have done it?How would you have done it?How would you have done it?How would you have done it?
Humanise something free of errorHumanise something free of errorHumanise something free of errorMake what's perfect more humanHumanise something free of error
Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillarWhat are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar movingWhat are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving
Imagine the music as a set of disconnected eventsImagine the piece as a set of disconnected eventsImagine the piece as a set of disconnected events
Infinitesimal gradationsInfinitesimal gradationsInfinitesimal gradations
Intentions -credibility of -nobility of -humility ofIntentions -credibility of -nobility of -humility ofIntentions -nobility of -humility of -credibility of
Into the impossibleInto the impossibleInto the impossible
Is it finished?Is it finished?Is it finished?Is it finished?Is it finished?
Is the tuning appropriate?Is the intonation correct?Is the intonation correct?
Is there something missing?Is there something missing?Is there something missing?Is something missing?Is there something missing?
Just carry onJust carry onJust carry onJust carry onJust carry on
Left channel, right channel, centre channelLeft channel, right channel, centre channel
Listen in total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietlyIn total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietlyIn total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietlyIn total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietlyIn total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly
Listen to the quiet voiceListen to the quiet voiceListen to the quiet voiceListen to the quiet voiceListen to the quiet voice
Look at a very small object, look at its centreA very small object -Its centre
Look at the order in which you do thingsLook at the order in which you do thingsLook at the order in which you do thingsLook at the order in which you do thingsLook at the order in which you do things
Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify themLook closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify themLook closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify themMagnify the most difficult detailsLook closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them
Lowest common denominator check -single beat -single note -single riffLowest common denominatorLowest common denominator
Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frameMake a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frameMake a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frameMake a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporateMake a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporateMake a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporateMake a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the listMake an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the listMake an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the listDo the last thing firstMake an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
Mechanicalise something idiosyncraticMechanicalise something idiosyncraticMechanicalise something idiosyncratic
Mute and continueMute and continueMute and continue
Only one element of each kindOnly one element of each kindOnly one element of each kindOnly one element of each kindOnly one element of each kind
Overtly resist changeOvertly resist changeOvertly resist changeOpenly resist changeOvertly resist change
Put in earplugsPut in earplugs
Remember .those quiet eveningsRemember .those quiet eveningsRemember .those quiet eveningsRemember quiet eveningsRemember .those quiet evenings
Remove ambiguities and convert to specificsRemove ambiguities and convert to specificsRemove ambiguities and convert to specificsChange ambiguities to specificsRemove ambiguities and convert to specifics
Remove specifics and convert to ambiguitiesRemove specifics and convert to ambiguitiesRemove specifics and convert to ambiguitiesChange specifics to ambiguitiesRemove specifics and convert to ambiguities
Repetition is a form of changeRepetition is a form of changeRepetition is a form of changeRepetition is a form of changeRepetition is a form of change
ReverseReverseReverseReverseReverse
Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)
Shut the door and listen from outsideGo outside. Shut the door.Go outside. Shut the door.Go outside. Shut the door.Go outside. Shut the door.
Simple subtractionSimple subtractionSimple subtractionSimple SubtractionSimple subtraction
Spectrum analysisSpectrum analysis
Take a breakTake a breakTake a breakTake a breakTake a break
Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importanceTake away the elements in order of apparent non-importanceTake away the elements in order of apparent non-importanceTake away the important partsTake away the elements in order of apparent non-importance
Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)
The inconsistency principleThe inconsistency principleThe inconsistency principleThe inconsistency principleThe inconsistency principle
The tape is now the musicThe tape is now the musicThe tape is now the music
Think of the radioThink of the radioThink of the radio
Tidy upTidy upTidy upTidy upTidy up
Trust in the you of nowTrust in the you of nowTrust in the you of nowTrust in the you of now
Turn it upside downTurn it upside downTurn it upside downTurn it upside downTurn it upside down
Twist the spineTwist the spine
Use an old ideaUse an old ideaUse an old ideaUse an old ideaUse an old idea
Use an unacceptable colourUse an unacceptable colourUse an unacceptable colourUse an unacceptable colour
Use fewer notesUse fewer notesUse fewer notes
Use filtersUse filtersUse filtersUse filtersUse filters
Use 'unqualified' peopleUse 'unqualified' peopleUse 'unqualified' peopleUse 'unqualified' peopleUse 'unqualified' people
WaterWaterWaterWaterWater
What are you really thinking about just now? IncorporateWhat are you really thinking about just now?What are you really thinking about just now?What are you really thinking about just now?What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
What is the reality of the situation?What is the reality of the situation?What is the reality of the situation?
What mistakes did you make last time?What mistakes did you make last time?What mistakes did you make last time?What mistakes did you make last time?What mistakes did you make last time?
What would your closest friend do?What would your closest friend do?What would your closest friend do?What would your closest friend do?What would your closest friend do?
What wouldn't you do?What wouldn't you do?What wouldn't you do?What wouldn't you do?What wouldn't you do?
Work at a different speedWork at a different speedWork at a different speedWork at a different speedWork at a different speed
You are an engineerYou are an engineerYou are an engineerYou are an engineer
You can only make one dot at a timeYou can only make one dot at a timeYou can only make one dot at a time
You don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideasYou don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideasYou don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideasUse your own ideasYou don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideas
Always give yourself credit for having more than personality (given by Arto Lindsay)
Idiot glee (?)Idiot glee (?)
It is quite possible (after all)It is quite possible (after all)
Lost in useless territoryLost in useless territory
Revaluation (a warm feeling)Revaluation (a warm feeling)
State the problem in words as simply as possibleState the problem in words as clearly as possibleState the problem as clearly as possibleState the problem in words as clearly as possible
Always first stepsAlways first stepsAlways the first steps
Not building a wall but making a brickNot building a wall but making a brickNot building a wall; making a brick
Question the heroic approachQuestion the heroic approachQuestion the heroic
Simply a matter of workSimply a matter of workIt is simply a matter or work
The most important thing is the thing most easily forgottenThe most important thing is the thing most easily forgottenThe most easily forgotten thing is the most important
Towards the insignificantTowards the insignificantMove towards the unimportantTowards the insignificant
Be extravagantBe extravagantBe extravagantBe extravagant
Disciplined self-indulgenceDisciplined self-indulgenceDisciplined self-indulgenceDisciplined self-indulgence
Pae White's non-blank graphic metacard
Be less critical more oftenBe less criticalBe less critical more often
Is the style right?
Use something nearby as a model
What is the simplest solution?
How would someone else do it?Who should be doing this job? How would they do it?
Try faking it (from Stewart Brand)Try faking it! (given by Stewart Brand)
Voice your suspicionsVoice nagging suspicions
What context would look right?Which frame would make this look right?
What to increase? What to reduce? What to maintain?What to increase? What to reduce?
What to maintain?
Where is the edge?Where is the edge? Where does the frame start?
Make it more sensualMake it more sensual
Slow preparation..fast executionSlow preparation..fast execution
Think - inside the work -outside the workThink - inside the work -outside the work
When is it for?When is it for?
From nothing to more than nothing
Only a part, not the wholeOnly a part, not the wholeOnly a part, not the whole
Retrace your stepsRetrace your stepsRetrace your steps
Once the search is in progress, something will be foundOnce the search has begun, something will be foundOnce the search is in progress, something will be found
Would anybody want it?Would anyone want it?Would anybody want it?
Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable placeGo to an extreme, come part way backGo to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place
What were you really thinking about just now?
Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable
Make something implied more definite (reinforce, duplicate)
Gardening, not architecture
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