Music Collaboration Online

SoundCloud has become, since its inception in August 2007, the website of choice for collaborating musicians, offering them the ability to freely upload tracks, sharing them privately with selected recipients, downloading, and leaving timed comments.

It’s been a simple but winning formula that has won considerable popularity against more complex rival collaborative offerings.

In recent years SoundCloud has extended its reach and objectives, most recently reinventing itself as a commercial music streaming service to rival Spotify and Apple Music. In making these changes, many of the original users have been perplexed to see much-loved features overtaken, and the atmosphere of the site has increasingly changed from collaborative to competitive since the introduction of “charts” and financial remuneration for the most popular artists.

But the original functionality and usefulness of the site remains, and for now at least its ongoing popularity seems assured.

I have taken part in various musical collaborations and online “challenges” on SoundCloud over the last several years, but none recently. So I was really pleased to hear from Wisconsin-based soundtrack composer Jeff Torres, saying he was keen to rework one of my original piano pieces.

I got a nice new chair today

Though Jeff works in business, he studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where he majored in composition and conducting. It’s a passion that has stayed with him – today he enjoys composing classically inspired music ranging from soundtrack and orchestral compositions, to works for choral, brass and symphonic wind ensembles.

The track of mine which had caught Jeff’s attention is my recent improvisation “I got a nice new chair today”, a track I put out on a whim, but which has attracted a lot of interest as a piano solo.

Jeff’s plan was to fully orchestrate the piece while retaining my original piano unaltered. It seemed to me an ambitious idea, especially given that all I could provide was an audio file rather than a MIDI version.

But having heard Jeff’s work on other pianist’s tracks I was sure he could do a great job with it.

And sure enough, he has produced a marvellous new version of the piece:

Of course, with a collaboration of this kind, one thing that interests me is to find out how the other artist reimagined the music – if I were to orchestrate the piece, what would I do the same, and what would I do differently?

On this occasion, the fascination for me is that Jeff pretty much orchestrated this just as I would have imagined it myself, although I don’t have nearly the talent to actually realise that as effectively as he has!

Chatting with Jeff, he told me that most of his collaborations work out this way, saying:

“I credit this experience to being fortunate enough to find the most inspirational tracks I can that match my style, and the power of the original track simply lets me build off of what I already feel present in the music.”

Collaboration – a more positive future?

With so much competition in the music world, and with all the attendant problems that brings, it is no wonder that many musicians are looking for a more positive path. Music has always, ultimately, been a collaborative venture!

Online collaboration can be a brilliant way of linking up with musicians from all around the world. It seems to me highly likely that growing numbers of creative musicians will get involved in working this way in the coming years!

Personally I enjoyed this collaboration as much as any before it, and look forward to more to come!

And now, for your further enjoyment, here are some of Jeff’s other collaborations too:

Follow:  Jeff Torres on SoundCloud

Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK. He runs a successful independent teaching studio and music education business, Keyquest Music.

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