In my years of working professionally as an audio professional — over 10 years, across 4 cities and 3 continents, from mobile games to blockbuster feature films. I’ve come across many industry peers that I’ve had the honor of working, established friendships and shared ideas with. Even within a very niche industry such as audio, we can find a variety of traits that govern the way people think and behave. We can generally box people, or be boxed up into the 2 main archetypes I call: The Conceptor and The Technician
Of course, it’ll be over generalizing to say that people are in either one box or the other. There’s a wide spectrum where people can fall anywhere in between. But this will illustrate the 2 common archetypes of peoples in the audio field. Learning the traits of the following can help in identifying your personal type and identify others. As you will see, understanding this can also help in improving communication experiences and reduce conflicts in the professional realm †
As the name suggests, these are the types who work primarily with concepts. They are the thinker types, pondering life through the lens of a philosopher. Speaking with parables rather than facts in their verbal expressions. They can be musicians, composers, mixing/recording engineers or creative artist of any kind. In music, they don’t judge from its harmonic/melodic compositional integrity and frequency diagrams(i.e technicals), instead they “feel” music and mixes in colours and emotional landscapes.
They let the colours, textures and emotions they want to evoke inspire them with what instruments to use. When choosing plug-ins or microphones, they think of sonic textures instead of the tubes and circuitry components within the equipments. When composing, they let their instincts flow them with inspirations instead of deciding mathematically if it’ll be 7/8 or 13/12 and penning the melodic counterpoints with absolute academic correctness. For artists of this kind, the work roots itself in themes, ideas or moods rather than specifics like: “I’m going to make ___that looks like___and using___”.
Speaking technical to this type often won’t yield much engaging responses, even though they could be well versed in the technicals. Better to communicate through imaginative and creative expressions. Technical information to them is just information and a means to an end, it serves as raw ingredients they mix into their conceptual cocktails.
How to know if you’re a conceptor? You‘re not too obesessed with the academic and/or theoretical aspect of things. History, culture and philosophy excites you over the sciences and math. You like to go with the flow and are often “all over the place”. You believe there’s no black or white, right and wrong. Everything exist in the the realm of possibilities. Facts and rules are dead and boring, you’re constantly challenging the status quo and thinking of reinventing the wheel in the most abstract sense possible. You couldn’t be bothered if you don’t fit in — as a matter of fact, better if you don’t, that makes you all the more original †
Unlike the conceptor, the technician loves things like instruction manuals and product specs sheet. They are masters at the anatomy of whatever they get their hands on, and in the realm of audio, they speak primarily in numbers, graphs and structures. They tend to be fact and technique driven, precision and attention to detail are their best known qualities. Thinking in blocks, technicians are also often highly skilled in organization and planning — which helps in handling large scale projects and managing sizeable teams. In this day and age, they could be more popularly referred to as geeks.
A technician in the form of an audio professional would get excited when discussing in great detail the latest equipments, softwares, sophisticated compositional techniques and its applications etc. A composer of this type will look at their compositional knowledge like a toolbox and building blocks, and will strive to develop the music so methodically with absolute theoretical correctness. A technician mixing/recording engineer would tend to choose their equipment of choice through technical judgments, such as frequency range, circuitry/electrical components etc. They’d say something along the lines of “-3.5 db at 278hz at a Q of…” or “The resolution of the maj7#9b13 to the V/III isn’t as smooth compared to the sub-dominant….”.
You know you're a technician if your knowledge in equipments, instruments, theoretical textbooks so well in specific detail you can teach them. You let technical judgments guide you in your creative endeavours. You're likely to believe in a thing as a "right" and "wrong" note, a "good' and "bad" mix. The grey area doesn't really exist for you because theoretically speaking, there's more or less a rule book for everything out there and as long as one adheres to it, they'd be right, or at least more right than wrong. You're probably also very good at and love the subjects related to Math and Physics †
BONUS: The Hybrid.
Remember when I said there's a wide spectrum where people can fall anywhere in between? In fact, most people would fall into the hybrid category rather than on the extreme ends. Some hybrids lean more toward the Conceptor end, whereas some would lean toward the Technician end. They would exhibit the dominant traits of whichever end they are leaning towards while still possessing traits of the opposite. And because we're talking about something as fluid as human behaviour, there's really no saying if there's one better than the other - Simply put, we're all unique. YOU are unique †
Why Is This Important?
What's important here is to be aware of these 2 dominant archetypes, understand their dominant traits and discovering for ourselves which end of the spectrum we are at. Moreover, it is imperative to accurately identify our colleagues, peers and clients correctly to engage in a smooth communication and working experience.
Imagine if you're a technician and your client is a more of a conceptor. If you spoke to them in your native language as a technician, how would you think the communication will turn out? Or how about if a colleague you're working with closely in a project was a conceptor? Can you imagine the kind of unspoken friction happening? I'm sure most people have experienced these kinds of interactions without being aware of the forces at play and just left it as "we just simply didn't click" or "they just don't get it". But what if we could change this?
If you're not a natural hybrid that's right in the middle of the spectrum, it's recommended that you learn more about the opposite of your type. For example, if you're more of a conceptor, take the time to understand the mindset of a technician, vice versa. In simpler terms, this is called empathy - A crucial quality for anyone who wants to develop better people skills and to succeed. The best part is, you don't even have to change yourself if you don't want to, this part is up to you.
This is a skill as important, or some say more important as the skillsets we use to make a living †
Let me know if you have any comments or thoughts regarding this and I’ll be happy to discuss. If you need help professionally, feel free to get in touch with me and I’d be more than happy to help with a FREE first time consultation. Do get in touch with me at email@example.com and you may learn more about me and my services over at my website www.kianhow.com. Thank you for reading, I’ll see you in the next one.