The fine art of curation

Finding a new place to live is a extenuating, sometimes very painful process. You have to check a lot of places before finding the right one and there is a good amount of frustration involved. On the other hand, it is also a tremendous opportunity to learn about people, to hear about their stories and to understand the multiple meanings of the word “home”. Personally, I find it a lot like building up the set list for a concert.

I already mentioned here how I truly believe in the power of learning and you can learn quite a lot by listening to what other people have to say. The same is true about songs. Give them the chance and the time to grow on you and they will tell you so much! That is why I always find it hard to shorten a set list, but as with people, sometimes you have to curate.

After a lot of time and dedication, you get to that small group of songs that expresses the concept of the concert, in other words, what it is about. Then you realize that some of them don’t talk to each other, so you have to make choices again. And again. And again. It might as well be true that for every moment of life there is a matching song, the one that hits the spot, but it is certainly not easy to find it.

In order to deal with the task in a easier way, I developed a simple 3-steps-method, which consists in brainstorming, peer-reviewing and final treatment. The brainstorming part is always a lot of fun, but it is also very tricky, for some of the songs in the first list are “just songs that I like” and not the ones that I really need to fit the idea of the concert.

The second step could also be called “reality bites”, for it consists in presenting the list to the lead musician, the one that will be responsible for the arrangements. It is when you can check if your storytelling works. It can be a positive experience or you can realize that your first list needs a lot of changes. Though a bit less fun than the first step, the second one is responsible for building up the spine of the show, so to speak and it always involve losses (songs being cut off) and gains (suggestions being added).

And as for the set list final treatment, all I can say is that you have to trust your choices and stick to your timetable. Just like in life there are magical moments in which we meet the right person at the right times, the perfect set list is all about finding the right theme and placing in the right position. If you thought about movie editing, you got the idea.

There will always be room for improvement, but once the storytelling works, declare that part of the mission accomplished and start rehearsing. As in life, the show must go on!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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