The Magic of Mistakes

The Magic of Mistakes

For any kind of performers, there is room for mistakes, and some arts are more gentle about it than others depending on the context and the particular feeling that is being comunicated.

In music, mistakes have the potential of being quite magical, wether it is during composition or a live performance, there is something about it that moves the way music works in an unexpected fun way that a planned performance cannot replicate. Of course it also depends on the type of music. When it comes to classical music and in some cases jazz, perfection is key in order to deliver a great performance.

This magic of mistakes can happen either in a live performance or during a recording. The basic idea is that a mistake can bring more feeling to the music or even sounds that were not intended to be there in the first place.

Live Performance

Concert Crowd

Live performances ara filler with mistakes, and sometimes what defines a great performer is not how perfect the music is being played but how the musician is able to keep going despite the adversities.

It’s also important to know the origin of the mistake, if it’s just lack of practice and expertise, it can hardly be magical, but there is one common example, which is laughter. When musicians play and there is a clear connection and chemistry, fun things are bound to happen, and this feeling is passed on to the crowd. However that’s when the mistake happens, laughter can make someone make a mistake or a singer fall out of tune, but the idea of the magic mistake is that it doesn’t really matter, it even gives a feeling of “realness” to it.

While it’s less common, sometimes improvisation can come from mistakes, all it takes is a single note outside of the plan. Of course it all depends on the energy between every band mate.

It’s also important to remember that most of these mistakes are magical thanks to the crowd, in the end a live performance is made by both the musicians and the crowd that listens, cheers and fuels all the emotions.


Many legendary songs have something magical about them that was brought by a little mistake.

According to the awesome Beatles anomalies site “What Goes On,” “…it is widely written that fitting with the lyrics [“Woke up, fell out of bed…”] was only coincidental, and the alarm clock’s purpose was originally as a marker. Nothing more. A happy accident that was capitalised on, as the Beatles often did.”

There was also:

On one of the overdubs, Ringo shifted position very slightly at the very end, causing his shoe to squeak. This happened, of course, just when the sound of a pin dropping could be heard! A cross Paul shot him a sideways glance, and from the look on his face I could tell Ringo was mortified. If you listen quite closely to the song just as the sound is fading away, you can hear it clearly, especially on the CD version, where there is no surface noise to mask it.

During a recording and composition it’s different than the live performance in many ways, due to the time that a musician has to play around with the path given by the mistake. Sometimes you have an idea, and it gets improved by playing a note you were not supposed to but makes everything better. In this case there is time to really listen to that and turn the mistake into the sound that is supposed to be played.

The main take away from this is to let the music take the lead sometimes, and let the unexpected happen.

Arturo Riera
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