Internet Collaboration Pt1

Are you looking for someone to jam? Do you have AIM or MSN or YIM? Would you like to collaborate online? Are you just looking for something to do with the microphone attached to your PC? Post here.
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Internet Collaboration Pt1

Post by nroberts » April 23rd, 2005, 12:28 am

Something I wrote up tonight. If the site people want it in the magazine it can be discussed. I couldn't find any link to submit articles so I am just going to post it here. This one doesn't require any media anyway...later ones will and I will need to figure out what to do about that...

This is the first part of a seriese on internet collaborations which will start
from square one and move forward, hopefully, to everyone having a firm
understanding of how to go about collaborating with other people musically
over the internet. This first part will be an introduction and outline as well
as a guide for finding more information.

Collaborating with other people over the internet is not exactly difficult, but
then again it isn't that easy all the time either. There is really no set way
to do it; there are formulas created by people who have found methods that work
but beyond that it is a rather open concept. The two most important parts of
internet collaboration are finding people to collaborate with and agreeing to
the methods involved, and learning the techniques involved in recording yourself
and sharing the results with other people.

Finding people to collaborate with isn't that difficult. You go to one of the
many forums for musicians and advertize your desire to collaborate or you find
a friend you communicate with often and begin the process. I myself have been
involved in collaborations from this site (,, and
a failed attempt in the alt.guitar.beginner newsgroup. There are many other
websites that offer this opportunity beyond that list, including probably

The second part of the equasion is much more involved and technical. My
knowledge of recording, mixing, and mastering is not that great; I am quite
frankly a complete newbie. However, it doesn't require a studio grade
technitian to start collaborating over the internet and I certainly have enough
knowledge and experience to help in that capacity. Recording will be in the
next installment.

You also need to agree among collaborators what will be done and how. The
easiest type of collaboration is probably the backing track lead jam. One
person posts a backing track to the forum along with a list of time segments
that would be collaborators may choose from. This person then is in charge
of how to accomplish the final mix and informs the rest of the collaborators as
to what he needs from them. I find that having clicks at the beginning of the
backing track provides an easily used lign up device for final mixing; I have
participants in my jams give me a high quality mp3 with the first few seconds
of the backing track followed by however much silence to their solo, followed
by their solo alone with no backing included. That later part is important
because if the backing track is already included it causes many problems, among
them the inability to adjust balance, panning, eq, and other effects.

Another method for collaboration is just to pass a single track around and keep
adding to it. So one person starts with their part, records it, mixes it, and
sends it to the next. Someone may or may not master at the end of the process.

In a new collaboration method has recently popped up. In this
method of collaboration a list of parts is created. People then volunteer for
parts and are assigned tasks by the lead person. The mix then gets handed down
the line and eventually uploaded by the last person for all to hear. For
instance it may start with a drum track created by one person, get passed to
a rythm guitar, to a bass, to vox, etc...each person adds their part to the
track and hands it off to the next. This yeilds some very interesting results
at times and has so far worked.

Yet another method of collaboration could be something like what I did with
another member of the website. I picked a backing track and
sent it to a friend who then recorded some lead work. I mixed in his lead and
then listened and added my own. We passed it back and forth until it was
finished. It the end I mixed it, added some effects, and posted it to the
website. You can hear the results at my artist page:

The track is entitled "A Jam".

Finally I have also participated in backing track swaps, which can be considered
a form of collaboration. The way this works is members of a forum just start
creating backing tracks for each other and they start playing over each others'
works and publishing the results. I myself prefer to work with original tracks
that are not backings to popular songs, but I believe I am in the minority on
that one. The site has an excelent set of tutorials on creating
backings to popular songs from midi file downloads. The results are
surprisingly nice sounding though still a bit mechanical. Creating your own,
original, live-play (non-midi) backing tracks will be covered in future

Methods for collaboration are only limited by your imagination and ability
to share files. So far working with mp3 has been adiquate to the task of just
having fun. The results sound pretty good but if you wanted to really create
something publishable you would probably need to share in a format that doesn't
remove information from the original digital representation of the audio
signal; a wav file for instance.

Further options involve the passing around of actual music in the form of
notation or tab. You can also pass around midi files. In some cases you can
even play with midi over the internet in real time, but this is something I
know nothing about. As soon as the latency issues are solved it should also
be possible to jam in basic audio over the internet in real time. However, at
this time I know of no protocol that will do this adiquately.

The one thing that kills a collaboration more than anything else is lack of
direction and/or leadership. I have seen, participated in, and run quite a few
successful collaborations and jams but all of these had a very well laid out
set of goals, guidelines, and participants. I have never seen a collaboration
work where someone says, "Hey, lets collaborate," but doesn't provide a more
concrete plan of action; these just never get off the ground.

The next article will discuss basic steps to record your playing with a backing
track. Knowing this will help you in your quest to collaborate. Following
will be more discussion of recording techniques applied to collaborating
over the internet

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Post by Laz » April 27th, 2005, 8:21 am

Go here for instructions on submitting an article.


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Post by smokindog » April 28th, 2005, 11:24 am

Very good artical, thanks for doing it !!!!maybe they can post these articals as "stickys" for a quik reference :?: seems to be an interest in this kind of thing building slowly but surely ( in large part thanks to you)-looking forward to more jams, ect--the dog

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