Pareto Payoffs

The Pareto Principle describes how things aren’t always distributed equally - originally an observation that 80% of wealth was owned by 20% of the population within a country. Often this is thought about in terms of inputs and outputs - that a large portion of results seem to stem from effort put toward a small subset of areas, and conversely much of how we spend our time and effort produces rather little.

I’m curious what areas of focus have seemed to lead to the greatest payoffs for lines members - specifically in regard to gaining musical proficiency and creating finished work, but also in other areas of life.

I’ve noticed recently that focusing on interval relationships for the guitar has done far more for me than learning patterns, chord shapes, note names, or abstracted theory ever did.

For my modular/Elektron setup I’ve noticed that setting up a system of consistent controls and macros that will always be the same across different projects allowed me to improvise much more fluidly. While in theory it decreased the range of possibilities available, in practice it freed me to focus on the subsystems which are in constant flux while having tried and true muscle memory accessible systems to always fall back on and augment the “novel” parts of a patch/piece.


Playing in a band that rehearsed weekly took my guitar playing to the next level. I didn’t “learn” anything new during that time. For many years, I had played mostly by myself at my home, I have been playing with a band that rehearses regularly for 5 years and I feel like I have made big gains in confidence, comfort, muscle memory, improv skills.

I know this community is more synth focused, but I would encourage anybody playing an instrument to find other people to play with, its just fun!


i think anything in repetitious forms tends to lean toward growth in a learning sense or maybe muscle memory is what i mean. my musical focus has grown leaps and bounds from sitting in the studio composing while being the engineer at the same time.

treating oneself with respect and ease. a comfortable support self relationship. take breaks, stay hydrated, find souls you connect well to and foster supportive relationships.

of the rails (but not at all). simple sitting with attention to ones breathing otherwise known as meditation was revolutionary to my daily existence.

big payoff in modern day for my buck: get the fuck off social media bf

find love and nurture that wherever possible

taking a pay cut by way of working less hours at day job soul suck american dream and putting that time into making the best music i can over a period of years amassing…


For me, simply not buying more gear (especially modular) and deeply learning what I already have instead. None of us really need the shiny new thing to make music.


I’m going to give the secret of getting good on a physical, non-electronic instrument. Spend 80% of your practice time playing one very short phrase over and over, with intense focus and the intent to play it perfectly on every dimension with every repetition.


aimlessly meandering with no sense of discipline or clear goals seems to provide the most satisfaction and best results for me when making music. i try to spend 80% of my music time doing that.


For many reasons, learning Csound has been one of the single greatest investments of my time.


I found for myself taking a “break” from playing drums and experimenting/learning a new instrument (modular and synth) really helped expand my musical vocabulary and may have made me a better drummer.

I really resonate with what @fbusche said above speaking about repetition and being in a band scenario. When I feel the most comfortable behind my kit is usually during a long stretch of rehearsing, touring or recording. Using your gear or creating often is one of the best ways to further yourself as a player or songwriter.


There’s a lot of the above that resonates with me as well. Additionally, I recently started a deep dive into Pauline Oliveros’ work, Deep Listening. You might summarize it as mindfulness via the soundscape. As a teen, she had an epiphany that led her to commit herself to listening “to everything, all the time.” Over the course of her life, that led to explorations of her body (especially through the martial arts) and dreams (have you ever thought to listen in your dreams? blew my mind when I first heard of it). I’m in the midst of a training to be certified to teach her methods; it has shaken me up musically as well as personally (in a good way).


I agree that repetiton often helps and I noticed that I had much better gains if I played my guitar for 15-30 uninterrupted minutes every day instead of spending more time but only on weekends.


I agree too! It’s a bit more of staying fresh and keeping the muscle/brain memory up than shedding for hours and hours everyday in my experience. That’s why I mentioned gigging above. Playing 20, 30-60 minute shows in a row really gets you in some sort of groove I found.


Perhaps similarly to @ludvista29, I feel like there’s a pretty big payoff in learning and playing (not necessarily practising) a variety of instruments.
Not only the more you learn instruments the easier it gets to approach a new one, but it also feels to me that each instrument can bring a variety of new ideas or nuances to the table because it makes you think differently about music and in the end contribute on your overall musicianship on all the other instruments you use.

Don’t know about the profitability of this one, but, in my book, trying new things is fun and you can get a hold easily on a lot of acoustic instruments without investing too much by buying second hand.
That being said sometimes something as simple as changing the tuning on a guitar, or preparing a piano can lead to so many good ideas!