Music News

Creation Through Collaboration

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Creation Through Music Collaboration

Writing and creating music is something anyone can do, whether it be a simple melody, a grand sweeping orchestral score or a dirty beat. However, it is very easy to be unimaginative when you are writing alone; there is a tendency to stick to what you know and to what comes naturally rather than to push the boundaries.

There is nothing wrong with this but in an industry where thousands of people are capable of producing impressive and professional sounding music, writing something new and imaginative is one of the best ways of getting noticed or staying in the game.

Similarly, collaborating with others, even if it is just a second opinion on a mix or remix, can generate some wonderful results. Composers can have brilliant musical ideas but don’t always package and present them in a way that listeners would be able to identify with; that second pair of ears to say what might be good to cut out or to add new, fresh ideas is always to be recommended.

It is often very difficult for a writer to see where a potentially redundant aspect of a mix might lie if they have spent a long time working on it, becoming married to that particular sound. I recently dropped a song from a demo I was writing because I thought it just wasn’t very good, I gave it to a band called Joyshop to mess around with and the resulting tune they came out with was fantastic, far and beyond what I had hoped to get from it originally. Writing scores and songs with others can be hard, synchronising and balancing musical direction and style is a tough thing to get right. once you are able to accept criticism and change it all starts falling into place.

A relatively easy way of creating new and exciting music is to blend styles. Whether you go in for the George Gershwin jazz/classical mash-up or the Rage Against The Machines Rap/Funk/Metal/Rapcore style, integrating two totally separate styles (and doing so cohesively) can create some incredible results.

The success of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue or his Piano Preludes and Rage’s record success coupled with the massive Christmas presence in 2009 with Killing In The Name Of are testament to how incredible a viable blend of styles can be when done well.

The industry is so saturated these days with every type of music, it is difficult to create something truly original and groundbreaking. Working with aspects from a different but complimentary style can make your music grow into something totally different, whilst still holding the same musical quality and ideals; this is where you and your mixes can start carving out their unique niche in this very full market. Itunes and other media players used to categorise music using around 20 genres, now there is a huge selection of varying genres from K-pop to lovestep to folk’n’roll – create a new one of these and you will be laughing.

Similarly, recording or writing with people from drastically different backgrounds, training or influences can uncover a selection of useful things. I, primarily classically then jazz/funk trained, have done recording with grime artists, pop artists, a selection of drum’n’bass and in the process have learned and picked up things that I never came across in the musical experience that shaped my original writing style. Things like being able to put a beat together properly, creating cool sounds by reversing or convolution, and even simple ideas like beefing up the backbeat snare with a cheeky little handclap are all things that I never would have thought of had it not been for working with people in musical areas outside of my normal sphere of writing.

Longevity in the music industry is difficult to maintain, especially these days with pop stars coming and going with the television seasons, so not only being able to create music that is unique initially but to be able to reinvent yourself time and again is key. A film and television composer that I know was finding the competitive nature of that area of the industry difficult and so reinvented himself as Britain’s first (and to my knowledge, only) Green Poet. Whilst this is maybe isn’t as glamorous as many would want, it is a clever niche to have created.

Green Poet

The band Superheavy show all aspects of these things, bringing together aspects of pop, soul, rock and reggae. The band line up of Joss Stone, Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, Dave Stewart and A. R. Rahman bring together a variety of experience and different stylistic preferences to create a vibrant, though maybe not unique, musical palette. Many pop and rockstars have done similar reinventions in the past, from Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Slash/Duff McKagan/Matt Sorum (Guns’n’Roses) with Velvet Revolver and even Girls Aloud’s re-entry, having gone from sweet teen girl band to super-sexy dance/pop divas who are ‘the leaders of the pack’.


In order to form the best collaborations it’s often necessary to work globally, or at least outside your local area. The internet, whilst a mixed bag, has allowed musicians from all backgrounds to be brought together, though this manual approach to working globally has been time consuming and inefficient.

Come spring 2013, Music Gateway will offer the solution to the problem, becoming the next global business platform for musicians to connect, collaborate and work together.

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