All the Oblique Strategies (without redundancies)
The complete list of all five editions of the oblique strategies can be found on this page.  The following is a list of all the strategies, including (parenthetically) which editions they appeared in.  There are many strategies which are present in all or (just as often) all except Edition 4, which differs the most of any of them.  This listing makes for easier reading by eliminating the repeated strategies from one deck to the next.


There are nearly 200 individual strategies across the five editions of the deck Brian Eno has released over the years.  It's hard to give an exact count, however, because of differences in the wording between editions.  Specifically, some strategies were rephrased for different editions even though they state roughly the same intention.

I didn't do as detailed as an analysis as I would have liked to, but there are interesting things revealed about the history of the deck if you look closely enough.  For example, Edition 1 has eight "orphaned" strategies.  These are ones that appeared only in the edition and were then abandoned, most likely because they were too specific to music, and the goal was that the strategies be applicable to a block in any creative endeavor.  There are other patterns like this, but I will leave them for you to discovered.


The Strategies

(Organic) machinery.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

[blank white card]  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  It is possible that this was present in Edition 4 as well, but I don't know for certain.

A line has two sides.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) 

A very small object - Its centre.  (Editions 2 and 5)  Note: This appeared as "Look at a very small object, look at its centre." in Edition 1.

Abandon normal instruments.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This was modified as "Abandon normal instructions." in Edition 4.

Accept advice.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Accretion.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This was modified as "Adding on." in Edition 4.

Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture).  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Similar to "Remove a restriction." from Edition 4.

Always first steps.  (Editions 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Always give yourself credit for having more than personality.  (Editions 2 and 5)

Are there sections?  Consider transitions.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Ask people to work against their better judgment.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Ask your body.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Assemble some of the instruments in a group and treat the group.  (Editions 1 and 2)  See related version below...

Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group.  (Editions 3 and 5) 

Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Be dirty.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Be extravagant.  (Editions 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Be less critical more often.  (Edition 3)  Edition 4 simply says "Be less critical."

Breathe more deeply.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Bridges - build - burn.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Cascades.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Change instrument roles.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This is "Change nothing and continue consistently." in Edition 4.

Children's voices - speaking - singing.  (Editions 1 and 2)  This was changed to "Children - speaking - singing." in Editions 3 and 5.

Cluster analysis.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Consider different fading systems.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Again, worded differently in Edition 4 as "Consider transitions."

Consult other sources - promising - unpromising.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Courage!  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Cut a vital connection.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Decorate, decorate.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Define an area as `safe' and use it as an anchor.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Destroy - nothing - the most important thing.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Discard an axiom.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Disciplined self- indulgence.  (Editions 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Disconnect from desire.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or "Abandon desire." in Edition 4.

Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Discover your formulas and abandon them.  (Edition 4)

Distorting time.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or "Distort time." in Edition 4.

Do nothing for as long as possible.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Do something boring.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable.  (Edition 4)

Do the last thing first.  (Edition 4)

Do the washing up.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Do the words need changing?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Do we need holes?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to do.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Changed to "Don't avoid what is easy." in Edition 4.

Don't be frightened of cliches.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or simply "Use cliches." in Edition 4

Don't be frightened to display your talents.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  "Display your talent." in Edition 4.

Don't break the silence.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Don't stress one thing more than another.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Emphasize differences.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Emphasize repetitions.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Emphasize the flaws.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot).  (Editions 1, 2, 4, and 5)

Feed the recording back out of the medium.  (Editions 2 and 5)  This may be a restatement of below...

Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation.  (Edition 1)

Fill every beat with something.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Find a safe part and use it as an anchor.  (Edition 4)

From nothing to more than nothing.  (Edition 3)

Get your neck massaged.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Ghost echoes.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 4)

Give the game away.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 4)  I can't be certain whether it was a typo or a variation, but this was replaced in Edition 5 with...

Give the name away.  (Edition 5)

Give way to your worst impulse.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Go outside.  Shut the door.  (Editions 2, 3, 4, and 5)  This was originally "Shut the door and listen from outside." in Edition 1.

Go slowly all the way round the outside.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place.  (Edition 3)  Or in Edition 4: "Go to an extreme, come part way back."

Honor thy error as a hidden intention.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or "Your mistake was a hidden intention." in Edition 4.

How would someone else do it?  (Edition 4)

How would you have done it?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Humanize something free of error.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or "Make what's perfect more human." in Edition 4.

Idiot glee (?)  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)

Imagine the music as a set of disconnected events.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly.  (Editions (Editions 2, 3, and 4)

Infinitesimal gradations.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Intentions - credibility of - nobility of - humility of.  (Editions 1 and 2)  This was changed to "Intentions - nobility of - humility of - credibility of." in Editions 3 and 5,

Into the impossible.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Is it finished?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Is the intonation correct?  (Editions 2 and 3)  This was more generalized to "Is the information correct?" in Edition 5.

Is the style right?  (Edition 4)

Is the tuning appropriate?  (Edition 1)

Is there something missing.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This was "Is something missing?" in Edition 4.

It is quite possible (after all).  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)

It is simply a matter or work.  (Edition 5)  I believe this is a typo ("or" = "of").

Just carry on.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Left channel, right channel, center channel.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Listen in total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly.  (Edition 1)

Listen to the quiet voice.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Look at the order in which you do things.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Look closely at the most embarrassing details & amplify them.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Lost in useless territory.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)

Lowest common denominator check - single beat - single note - single riff.  (Edition 1)  This was shorted and generalized to "Lowest common denominator." in Editions 2, 3, and 5.

Magnify the most difficult details.  (Edition 5)

Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Make it more sensual.  (Edition 4)

Mechanicalize something idiosyncratic.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Mute and continue.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Not building a wall but making a brick.  (Editions 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Once the search is in progress, something will be found.  (Edition 3)  This was changed to "Once the search has begun, something will be found." in Edition 4.

Only a part, not the whole.  (Editions 3 and 4)

Only one element of each kind.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Overtly resist change.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Or "Openly resist change." in Edition 4.

Pae White's non-blank graphic metacard.  (Edition 4)

Put in earplugs.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Question the heroic approach.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)

Question the heroic.  (Edition 4)

Remember those quiet evenings.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  Worded as "Remember quiet evenings." in Edition 4.

Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This is "Change ambiguities to specifics." in Edition 4.  Similarly...

Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This is "Change specifics to ambiguities." in Edition 4.

Repetition is a form of change.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Retrace your steps.  (Editions 3 and 4)

Revaluation (a warm feeling).  (Editions 2 and 3)  Again, possibly a typo, but this was "Reevaluation (a warm feeling)." in Edition 5.

Reverse.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Short circuit (example: a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap).  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Simple subtraction.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Simply a matter of work.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)

Slow preparation, fast execution.  (Edition 4)

Spectrum analysis.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

State the problem in words as clearly as possible.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)  Alternatively, "State the problem as clearly as possible." in Edition 4.

Take a break.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)  This runs contrary the strategy below...

Take away the important parts.  (Edition 4)

Tape your mouth. (given by Ritva Saarikko)  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

The inconsistency principle.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)  Worded as "The most easily forgotten thing is the most important." in Edition 4.

The tape is now the music.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Think - inside the work - outside the work.  (Edition 4)

Think of the radio.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Tidy up.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Towards the insignificant.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)  This was "Move towards the unimportant." in Edition 4.

Trust in the you of now.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Try faking it. (from Stewart Brand)  (Edition 4)

Turn it upside down.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Twist the spine.  (Editions 1, 2, and 5)

Use an old idea.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Use an unacceptable color.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Use fewer notes.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Use filters.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Use something nearby as a model.  (Edition 4)

Use 'unqualified' people.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Voice your suspicions.  (Edition 4)

Water.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

What are the sections sections of?  Imagine a caterpillar moving.  (Editions 2, 3, and 5)  Originally "Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar." in Edition 1.

What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate.  (Edition 1)  Shortened to "What are you really thinking about just now?" in Editions 2, 3, and 5.

What context would look right?  (Edition 4)

What is the reality of the situation?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

What is the simplest solution?  (Edition 4)

What mistakes did you make last time?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

What to increase? What to reduce? What to maintain?  (Edition 4)

What were you really thinking about just now?  (Edition 4)

What would your closest friend do?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

What wouldn't you do?  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

When is it for?  (Edition 4)

Where is the edge?  (Edition 4)

Which parts can be grouped?  (Edition 4)

Work at a different speed.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Would anybody want it?  (Edition 3)  Almost the same in Edition 4: "Would anyone want it?"

You are an engineer.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

You can only make one dot at a time.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)

You don't have to be ashamed of using your own ideas.  (Editions 1, 2, 3, and 5)





Copyright 2012 Alexplorer.  Strategies copyright 1975 to 2010 Brian Eno and Pete Schmidt.

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