"When I say 'musician,' I wouldn't apply it to myself as a synthesizer player, or 'player' of tape recorders, because I usually mean someone with a digital skill that they then apply to an instrument. I don't really have that, so strictly speaking I'm a non-musician. None of my skills are manual, they're not to do with manipulation in that sense, they're more to do with ingenuity, I suppose."
S. Davy, “Eno: Non-Musician on Non-Art,” Beetle (Jan. 1975), n.p.
This resolute lack of technique has become an integral part of Eno’s whole philosophical approach
to music-making. Whether out of inner or outer defensiveness, or out of honest selfexamination,
he has come up with a variety of justifications for remaining a “non-musician.”
One is that lack of technique almost forces one to be creative: it makes one confront one’s
vulnerability. Eno explains:
I’ve seen musicians stuck for an idea, and what they’ll do betweenWhat is the ontological status of what may seem to be increasingly non-human forms of music
takes is just diddle around, playing the blues or whatever, just to reassure
themselves that, “Hey, I’m not useless. Look, I can do this.” But I
believe that to have that [technique] to fall back on is an illusion. It’s
better to say, “I’m useless,” and start from that position. I think the
way technique gets in the way is by fooling you into thinking that you
are doing something when you actually are not.
– music that is neither performed nor heard actively in any conventional sense? At what
level is the human element operative?
Eno, Brian. “Music for Non-Musicians,” private publishing of 25 copies, ca. 1970, none of
which are known to exist today, according to Eno’s management, Opal Ltd., London.
This intriguing little essay is, however, discussed in Eno & Mills, More Dark than