Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Singing the counter-melody

A lot of people think my advice and opinions sound strange.

Even my mom read a recent one and said, “You don’t actually mean this stuff, do you?”

So, a little explanation:

Do you know what musical counterpoint is?

Underneath the main melody, you have a counter-melody that goes against it, and together they make harmony.

This is different than just harmonizing, where someone sings along with the melody at an interval. This is a separate melody that could stand on its own, but is really there to complement the main melody.

Well, if my advice and opinions sound strange, it’s because I’m just the counter-melody.

I know I’m not the only voice you hear. There’s a message I know that most of my readers or listeners are hearing, because it’s a common message we all hear these days. So let’s call that the melody.

I may love that melody too, but I don’t want to just duplicate it. So I try to think of a good counter-melody.

I do it to compensate (or over-compensate) for something I think is missing in the common message.

So my public posts are a counterpoint meant to complement the popular point.

For example:

Now if you ask me if I think the stuff I say is the only way to go, of course not! I’m just the counter-melody.

My best advice is to listen to the combination. Eventually you’ll find yourself singing along with the melody you like best. Or making up your own.

“A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow” photo © Marcin Ryczek.