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Topic: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

  1. #1

    Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    As sample libaries become increasingly realistic and computer-based music technology improves, music composition and production continues to move toward autonomy. One person can do everything -compose, arrange, play, record. Are works not as good as they could be because in many cases we no longer have live musicians, engineers, producers etc. adding their unique creativity to the mix - at least to the degree they use to?

    Studies say the group produces a better end-product than the lone individual.

  2. #2

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    I think some people worry way too much about sample quality than actual composition itself. It\'s not a bad thing to have exeptionally good samples, of course, as long as you don\'t rely on them too much. Many can\'t afford players/engineers/studios so it\'s a good thing, in a way, to have something (like VSL) to turn to.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    South Ken, London

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    Guess it depends on the music. If you\'re a very capable pianist and like writing piano works, I don\'t think its a problem. If you want to compose a chamber work or a symphony or similar, go ahead but you\'re going to need real musicians to play it to full effect. Mocking it up on a computer isn\'t really going to do it justice by comparison.

    For film and TV stuff I think you can get away with working on your own quite comfortably now, providing you\'re savvy with all the various elements involved from composing through to engineering. You will still need feedback from the project managers, directors and producers so its unlikely your ever left to do your own thing. Of course, the grander sale projects and movies are probably going to need real musicians.

    If you work in the pop side of things then I think multi-input is pretty essential.

    But for me personally, the need to work and perform with real musicians is of the utmost importance. I went to the Purcell school from a very young age, performing daily with other musicians and it is the absolute essential ingredient for me.

  4. #4

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    Hi Joanne, I agree with you in that collaboration can inspire us to \"aim higher\" than when we work alone. Thats more along the lines of working with other musos.

    Even working in a company where you are the resident composer can inspire you to produce better work as you are THE music person there. Its what you do. You are part of a team and your job is simple. Make the best music you can. I think a lot of respect is gained from that because no one else in that environment does what you do. It makes you feel better to know that people look to you for all things musical.

    Also, I have to smirk a little sometimes when people are always looking for a sample library of this instrument, that instrument.... (I\'m guilty too!) But hey, what happened to recording a real live musician? Imagine for a moment what ONE violin player and ONE french horn, layered in with your samples, could do for your orchestral piece....

    I have already started making enquiries at the local uni for student players. So far, most seem flattered that I have even asked. The beauty of it is that in another year or two these students are likely to be playing in a symphony orchestra and I would have to mortage my house to hire them. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    I also think that you always learn something when working with someone else. Be they a muso, engineer, producer whatever. Even if they are bad you STILL learn something.

    THe other thing that worries me little is that you have to be pretty technically literate these days to be a working composer. I know that midi and samples have given us a lot of freedom but I really feel for the talented composer who just doesnt have a technical bone in their body. It hardly seems fair that they should have to learn about midi, sequencing, quantizing, bit depth, sample rates, eq, compression, early reflections, etc, etc. Not to mention if they have already spent years learning counterpoint, harmony and so on. I think brain surgeons do less study!

    Anyway, just my errant thoughts.... [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    Reality? Many here do the lone individual virtual orchestra thing.

    In their free time the same people listen to the real thing. That is reality.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    I have this conversation with colleagues all the time. All of us are becoming more and more isolated.

    Even though I still record some things live, I record a lot less live than ever. Twelve years ago, my studio could accommodate a pop session, easily. Now, I have one room with a vocal booth, and do four times as much work. But 90% of it is synthesized/sampled.

    It does get lonely. Really, I have been in this same room pretty much 12+ hours a day for 12 years. I get out, but I miss that collaboration with my fellow studio rats. Everyone I know feels the same way, but the economic reality is that you either do it this way or you find another way to make a living. You cannot make enough money to survive by working the way we worked before...it\'s not time efficient. Also, clients have gotten too accustomed to everything being virtual, and asking for major changes right up until the drop dead time.

    Isn\'t it a little ironic that we\'ve all essentially trapped ourselves into lives that look more like monks than musicians? Probably the biggest reason music was more attractive to me than other options in the art world was the collaborative piece. Now, unless I\'m out playing a gig, I end up playing with myself most of the time. And you know what they say about that...

  7. #7

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    I totally agree with you Joanne. The possibilities of a modern sample library are priceless. It is a dream come true for composers, arrangers ...etc

    However nothing can replace the input of a talented musician, the unexpected ideas coming from the interaction of different personalities.
    Not to mention that many music genres are based upon interaction (jazz, afro cuban, african, blues, rock ....)

    So we end up on our own, in our little cubicles and over time group music becomes an old memory.
    I think that if the trend keeps going that way, musicianship in general will suffer.

    Now is the age of the computer, of the internet. We are all connected to the machine, to the beast.
    I love it but boy, do I miss the hours jamming away with a bunch of great fellow musicians [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    And yet, I don\'t see why we can\'t take advantage of the ease of access to the fast internet connections to reintroduce collaborations on a different level. Nothing\'s easier than to send files from Tokyo to NY in a matter of minutes (Tob, you will receive something by the end of this week, promise [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

    Sure we all have to make a living, keep the expenses as low as possible but I\'d be willing to give a reasonable share of a budget to have the excitment of being surprised back into my music. On the other end, if the music is good, I\'d be more than happy to throw in a few guitar tracks, groves, harmonies ...etc into somebody else\'s music without charging an arm and a leg for it.

    I guess it still is up to us to change the current trend and take control of the computer age.

    Revolt before it is too late [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  8. #8

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    Originally posted by Joanne Babunovic:
    Are works not as good as they could be because in many cases we no longer have live musicians, engineers, producers etc. adding their unique creativity to the mix - at least to the degree they use to?

    Studies say the group produces a better end-product than the lone individual.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">The answer to your question is an unequivocal YES. The end product is almost never as good as it could be because of this masturbatory process that has developed over the last decade.

    The old cliche\'....\"jack of all trades, master of none\", surely has taken root. People can kid themselves if they want. But I constantly hear either: sterile compositions, nicely produced,...good compositions, poorly arranged....good arrangements, poorly mixed....good ideas, poorly performed.

    One thing I notice, even in the unsigned band world, is that while an artist may have produced a CD or 2 on their own in the past, many....even though they have the skills to self-produce....will opt to work with others for future projects. And these are people with little or no money backing them up.

    Musicians and composers are often control-freaks by nature when it comes to their recordings. I suspect many would like to come into everyone\'s living room or car and tweak the stereo before putting in the CD.

    \"Letting go\" is a good thing.

    I also have to disagree with the consensus point that \"there isn\'t enough time\" to work with others. In many cases, there isn\'t enough time to work alone. I realize this comes down to the price-point that an individual is working in.

    But the original question you asked has a definite answer. YES!! Works are not as good as they could be. Collaboration is essential to making good music. It\'s the same necessity as good love-making, or sharing food.

  9. #9

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    Hi Joanne,

    Another great thread my friend. This is a real issue with me. I agree with Bruce, with the \'expectations\' nowadays - you almost can\'t do anything else in the real world. Would all our music be better if we all did more collaborating - we would all probably agree. The challenge is time.

    Recently, a violinist friend of mine heard one of my tunes and suggested he \'lay down\' the sampled solo violin part. When we ran the tape, the geek-o-rama changed everything - for the better (fewer notes, more intrinsically \'violin-like\'). Sometimes I wonder how \'in-bred Jed\' I get doing solo so often. Also, every part (or section) is \'played by me\'. I think sometimes certain colors are missing. I find myself listening now to the playing style (not just articulations) of various recorded acoustic instruments and then try to imitate.

    It\'s is a reality, though, the challenge for all of us is to find ways to keep re-inventing ourselves - all by ourselves.

    BTW, if you want to check out this violin part, it is at


    \"religous/Hie to Kolob\"

    See ya,


  10. #10

    Re: Collaboration, or the lack thereof....

    On the other hand, I find the process of writing this way much more satisfying. Plus my fingers find things my brain wouldn\'t find on its own (and vice versa).

    It\'s funny how this has evolved. 25 years ago, anyone who worked in pencil rather than pen was a totally reprehensible sissy, and there simply was no such thing as a concert score before about 1980!

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