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"Collaborating" remotely. Is it REALLY?


wwwjd

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Yeah, it's not live and it's not the same....but that doesn't mean it can't work or doesn't work.

 

The best song I wrote this month was a collaboration with a friend via AIM. I wrote the verse and bridge, he wrote a killer chorus. Voila.

 

Yeah, it wasn't a free-floating-idea-exchange-in-mid-air-paradise. But most of the time, band practices have way less of that than we would wish for anyway.

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It's true a live verbal exchange can lead to unexpected revelations, but so to can distance exchanges, when song writing with someone it's not so much "here we are together" as it 's the " here we've got it right"

Sometimes little catch frazes can come at unexpected times whether working live or distant.

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Then there is always video conferencing. I think this is a really under used

technology that will come into its own when broadband and faster computers slowly become the norm.

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yeah I vid conf all the time with family across the nation, but could you HEAR and play parts in time?* I dunno. I been asked to collab with some people IN TOWN but they wanna do it moving files. I declined as I don't believe that is the BEST WAY to write music. Yes, it can produce RESULTS of a useable nature, but I told them it would be best to plan get togethers and work on songs as one unit, rather than separate, additive parts. curious how others felt

 

*to answer my own question, no you can't there is at least a helf second delay - unless you spend LARGE BANK for dedicated lines etc. You could not play in real time and hear it, feel it, catch the vibe, sprout a new idea etc. To laggy

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I think Rivers Cuomo from Weezer used YouTube to collaborate with fans for many of the songs on their newest album (The Red Album). The project was called "Lets Write a Sawng". NPR did an interview with Rivers about the process. Pretty interesting to say the least. So I think that if you're willing to allow others into your songwriting process it definitely can be done.

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I think you have to find ways to work that work for you... although it may be worthwhile to challenge yourself, too.

 

Folks have collaborated on songwriting and composition over time and distance for a long time... One could even think of traditional ballads, evolving as they passed from troubadour to troubadour, in that way.

 

People have collaborated by mail for centuries and the late 19th and 20th centuries brought the ability to incorporate audio recording in the forms of cylinders and disks, as well as by telephone and later trans-national and trans-Atlantic cable hookups used for broadcasting.

 

And, as someone who used to be in bands, I have to say that sometimes face-to-face collaboration has its own dangers. (I was once attacked by the drummer of my own band, only a few weeks after getting out of the hospital where I was in traction for most of two months and lost 40% of my body weight. We weren't actually working on a song, though. :D [The other guys kicked him out but the band ended up breaking up, then later getting back together with the drummer but without me. ;) ] But physical violence is perhaps a little less likely when folks are separated by many miles. A little less likely. :D )

 

The three online collaborations I've participated in have been a bit mixed. The first, in '99, went sorta well: a young Brit techno producer wanted me to write and sing lyrics to one of his tracks. Overall, it went well enough, but right at the crucial juncture of him seating the high-speed vocals in the 140 bpm song, he ignored my detailed instructions on how to place the vocals rhythmically, getting one verse a 16th note off (all the way through it, of course). I pointed it out to him but he said, "I think it works." Then, when I said I wanted to try it myself, he said, sure, just don't release it. I'm trying to sell it and I don't want any confusion. So, you know, I did my own version, played it for a few friends, and then I just let it slide.

 

It apparently did well but if he sold it onto a comp like he wanted, I never heard about it. Our next collaboration didn't go anywhere. He shot me some music and a title. I wrote some words and sent them attached to his demo of the music and, far as I knew, that was that, nothing happened.

 

The other collab I did was with a large set of online friends from the old Mp3.com, simply dropping my vocals into a 95% finished track, where the lyrics (such as they were) were already written. Since it was a rock song, I had pretty little interest in it; I just sort of put myself in 80s rocker mode (one I'd always avoided like the plague :D ) and blew out the lyrics. It was a charity thing. I don't know what became of it... but 10 or 12 versions of the same basic (rather trivial) song on one album is probably not going to be something people put on everyday.

 

That said, I've never been all that comfortable collaborating face to face, either -- except in strictly improv situations, which I have a real thing for. (I've been in a few strictly improvisatory bands, starting back in '78. Some barely got out in public but at least one played a number of club gigs, and a couple of festivals. And I had a solo plus occasional guest star all-improv echo loop act that started in '91, when echo loopers weren't stacked up in the coffeehouses like cord wood. ;) )

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I think I'm pecking at the wrong terminology here.... When asked to write a song TOGETHER, I expect us to be in the room together, working as one unit to create together. Colabortating can be across the nation at differing times and file transfers, but what it the word for a live, symbiotic, unified brain core tackling the unique creation of new music? When we sit down in a room together with blank sheets of paper and 1 keyboard, think of an idea, start coming up with music - playing off each other, growing the creativity in one like mind at the same time. To me, THAT is creating something TOGETHER, not adding parts later and shuffling things around.

 

When the drummer and bassist are playing, and the get to a section and the drummer goes, "Hold up, if you change that part at the end here, I will do THIS and it will be cooler..." [da-dum, bam, bang] and the bassist changes his part, but hears as enhancement [as only a bass player could during that part] and goes, "Excellent! That leads me into doing THIS that adds sting and flow into a pause before the last chorus..."

 

... I just don't think that sort of creativity is possible from remote locations.

 

I guess what I am saying is, you can accomplish what you could do remotely, LOCALLY, but you can NOT accomplish what you could do locally via REMOTE

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Well, I think it can be very different working in the same room and in realtime -- especially if you're arranging more than composing.

 

I could imagine collaborating remotely might not work dor some but for the type of writing collaboration I've done with others in 3DW bands, I don't think working remotely would be that big a deal. For one thing, I've always tended to hold the lyrics closely and be very open-minded about the music. (Possibly because I just figure that later, after I'm free of the encumbrance of my current partners, I will simply do the music they way I wanted to in the first place, typically meaning a complete re-write. That's pretty much how it's always been in the past. I don't mean to dismiss the efforts of my erstwhile collaborators... but... well... that's just the way it is. The way I am.)

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Sometimes I find in-person collaboration can lag as a result of not having time to think. For example, say I'm working on a new song with my band. We decide we need a bridge. And then we spend 20-30 minutes stumbling through stuff and nothing comes.

 

We all go home and someone ends up writing something by themself and fitting it into the song. It happens ALL of the time. It doesn't have to be real-time to be real. They are different methods, but equally valid.

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I find that collaboration can end up in the song being watered down by both people "settling" for the other person's idea - especially when more than 2 people get involved. I'm sure it can be productive but I haven't been in a situation where collaboration produced anything wonderful.

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wow, all great points, things I didn't think of before. I agree with all of it. All of it happens and is valid. Opposite of Z-Mann's scenario, I can see things getting better rather than setting [but yes settling happens too]

 

There is also the collaboration that happens tween 4 or 6 people - IE a full band, where EACH member is only good at their certain instrument, but suck at the rest and NEED each other to complete a full song - they all get together and put in their parts to make a song from nothing.

 

I've ALWAYS done everything myself and it's turned out okay - got done faster than in a group also, but may try this thing called "COLLABORATION" in the near future. Thanks for the interesting feedback.

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I don't feel you can >>truly

 

You are probably right but, if there's no other choice?

My friends don't play any instruments.I met John (Reading/USA) two years ago over the internet, and we really have fun, making songs together.

I send him a melody , he adds some lyrics, or he sends me an instrumental part and I try to find an arrangement.

We take our time and there is no stress!!;)

 

For example, this is a collab, a song called "the wheel"

The songwriter,sings plays drums, bass, guitars.He's from Ontario (Canada)

Second singer is from kingston.

Keyboards? From London

=>

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=555643&content=songinfo&songID=7553518

 

.....not bad!!

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I find that collaboration can end up in the song being watered down by both people "settling" for the other person's idea - especially when more than 2 people get involved. I'm sure it can be productive but I haven't been in a situation where collaboration produced anything wonderful.

 

 

This is something I found extremely frustrating.

 

Many folks work at different paces and in different ways.

 

I was by far the most prolific writer among the larger circle of people I played with when I was active playing with others in bands, jam bands, and project bands. And a byproduct of that is that I can whip off chord progressions that fit together gracefully all day long, pretty much as fast as I can play them. (I ain't saying they are all necessarily innovative or provocative or especially cool... I'm saying they're in the same or complementary keys and you can hang a song or a jam on them.)

 

As a consequence, it increasingly fell to me to make up whatever was being played -- a burden I felt destroyed much of what I liked about jamming. (For that reason I would often gravitate back to bass, which was what I played when I first began playing with other folks, since guitar players have always been a dime a dozen. Sitting on the bass I could gracefully say, Well, gee, guys, why don't you make up the music for a while. I'm here on bass, and that's not a great way to lead a jam. Still, it was uphill getting people to put more than two chords together. Hell, tough enough to get them to put two together.)

 

Anyhow, for me, the thing about collaborating is not just doing it all yourself, so I would go out of my way to try not to dominate things. But then that just became more frustrating because folks would either waste enormous amounts of time on chord combinations that just wouldn't work or they would pick the very first thing that sorta did [better, for sure].

 

I dunno.

 

I guess there's just a reason that I mostly work by myself.

 

 

PS... my least favorite jam/work activity in the whole musical world is sitting around waiting for some lead guitar genius to try to find a chord progression to go under some "genius lick" or run they wanted to play. I may not be a particularly great lead player but I'd rather hear what I do coming out of the music more or less organically than some bozo solo glued onto the outside by some would-be guitar god.

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I just came across this site:


It's especially for collaborating remotely. Looks interesting.


The Postal Service was named as such because the guy from Death Cab for Cutie and another guy basically did all their collaboration via snail mail. That album turned out absolutely fantastic.

 

 

I'm really sensitive to latency issues... how's the monitoring via snail mail?

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Between phone, email, facebook, forums, the ease up uploading "demos", etc...I have had several very happy collaborations with others. I've been producing for local artists for a while now, and have recently been getting a lot of "long distance" production requests. Heck, if they can record a clean track to a click and email it to me, I can do the rest, so why not? I just don't see distance as the obstacle it once was, for collaboration, getting your name out there, or distribution once the project is done. Heck, I would guess every major continent is represented by readers of this thread alone.

 

~M

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You've just got to reverse the polarity on the envelope for phase issues.
:thu:

 

While it's not that hard to invert the envelope, I find that, once its inside out, getting the adhesive flap sealed from the inside is a bit of a thumbtwister.

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