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Remote collaborations: Atlantic Fusion

One of the many benefits of the rapid pace of technological advancement in music software, and of the internet, are the increased possibilities open to collaborating creatively from remote locations; creating music with people that have never even physically met!
OCA music student Nigel Sanders recently got in touch regarding a new recording project that he has been involved in which has been created in precisely this manner.
Atlantic Fusion is a collaboration between Nigel and fellow musician Allan Stuart Heltzel, who is based in the US, and has resulted in the newly released album Meet Me at the Bridge.
Nigel was kind enough to answer some questions of OCA Music about the project and the technicalities of collaborating remotely:
How did you come to work together?
Allan and I connected through the Music Gateway website. He responded to an advert I put on there for an online collaboration. We chatted via email for a while and then got to work.
How did the collaborative process work?
We tended to work in a whole variety of ways but mainly I would arrange a series of drum grooves and other such things to create a composition structure. Allan would then add his parts and we would discuss any changes that were needed via email. I tended not to try and do the drums as a complete linear track but laid the sections down as 1 to 8 bar samples and then looped them.
What is the concept behind Atlantic Fusion?
The concept behind the collaboration was to be as experimental as possible whilst not losing sight of creating something that was not too far left of centre. I would play a range of Jazz, Rock and Latin grooves on the drums and sometimes Allan would send me a lead sheet and I would record my parts to that. I think in the main it was meant to be free jazz.
How long did the project take?
My parts were recorded in about two months, whenever I had a free moment, and the same with Allan. The whole project took just over a year to complete from initial contact to CD production.
What software and technology did you use?
Large audio files were transferred by Dropbox which allowed us to share a folder in which
we could exchange all our files. The files were no greater in quality than standard 16 bit WAV files. The software DAW that I used was a combination of Apple GarageBand and Logic Pro.
What were the pros and cons of working remotely?
The pros certainly outweigh the cons in remote recording as you are not paying for very expensive studio time, although you would still need to invest in good quality recording equipment.  I also found I had to think and plan what I wanted to do and then review it, a bit like have a big label behind you with no time constraints to produce a record! When did that ever happen?!
The cons were not having that human interaction and some time to play music with the collaborator. It would be really great to meet Allan. I feel I know him well but we’ve never met.
Any advice to anyone considering composing remotely?
My advice for anyone wanting to collaborate remotely is yes, it’s the future for most musicians. However, you need to be well prepared in being able to use the technology and be very patient and flexible as things don’t really happen instantly, in comparison to being in a studio with paid session musicians. It certainly is a great creative way of making new music due to its freedom and it works really well for me.
More information about Nigel Sanders, Allan Stuart Heltzel and the Atlantic Fusion project can be found via the links below. Tracks from the album can be previewed below and also on iTunes HERE.
Nigel Sanders: Main WebsiteComposition Website
Allan Stuart Heltzel: Main Website
Atlantic Fusion: Tracks can be found at: iTunes, CDbaby, Spotify


Posted by author: ChrisLawry
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3 thoughts on “Remote collaborations: Atlantic Fusion

  • This shows just what can be done with the new technology and the power to connect. I love the cool feel of that Latin jazz that seems to run through the whole set.
    My own experiences with remote collaborations have always been very positive and very fruitful and I would highly recommend anyone composer to get involved in it as you learn from each other as well as it being fun and a great cauldron for ideas to spring from.
    Thanks for this very enlightening and informative blog.

  • If anyone wants a hard copy CD these can be sent to you for a nominal cost of £5 inc free postage. Cheers Nigel

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