Collaboration project is a go!

December 9, 2010 | 44 Comments

Photo courtesy of Lollyman

December 9, 2010 – Ok, we are a go! Participation for this project is closed, and I’ve sent out invitations to the Dropbox account to everyone who showed interest. If you missed out on this project, we’ll get you on the next one. Hopefully this will all work out awesome, and will be the start of a cool collaborative community.

First off, I want to really thank you guys for your enthusiasm. I started this site a couple years ago, wanting to get a musical dialogue going. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do that but I hope this project will be where it all ramps up.

Alright, enough with the sappy stuff, and down to the meat and potatoes of how I think this will go down. I’ve uploaded the starting loop into the Dropbox folder. It is a glockenspiel melody I recorded last week. In the course of this project, you are allowed to do whatever you want to it. I’ve CC-licensed it under Non-Commercial so if you want to use it for something else as long as you don’t sell it, I’m cool with that. I’d appreciate the attribution though.

Since I’ve never done anything like this before, the way this works may change as we see how everyone reacts. To make this truly collaborative, everyone will have a specific task in relation to this song. Whether that is laying down a drum or bass line, or mixing the track, tasks will be delegated by me. If you want to fill a specific roll, please let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to accomodate. Please keep in mind that I still may not be able to give you the task you want. The list of tasks will change as the song begins to take shape. I will attempt to manage the project and keep everything in check, but I want you guys to feel free to cut loose.

Off the table currently are drums and mixing. The former claimed by Travis and the latter by Jon. Of course, the starting loop is also taken…after all I already recorded and uploaded it. For those who will be writing and recording melodies or filling in, you are able to do whatever you want as long as you respect the work of those who came before. In other words, feel free to create, but don’t bury others’ work.

As suggested by Jon over at AudioGeekZine, we will be working in Reaper. Reaper is a cross platform DAW that is available with full functionality even in the trial version. You can find it at If you need to pull the project into your own DAW to leverage your tools, go ahead, but be sure to export what you’ve done and re-import it into Reaper for the next person who works on the song.

If you are not part of the mixing team, please do not mix the track for the next person and especially do not “print” the mix so that it cannot be undone. As well, please keep the effects to a minimum unless it is a part of the sound you’re adding. Not everyone will have the same effects which will undo your work. If you must use an effect for a certain sound, please keep the original version without effects (muted of course) and “print” a version with the effect recorded on it.

As everything progresses, I will post updates on how the song sounds at every stage, probably using Soundcloud. This allows everyone to see what everyone else is doing, and also serves as a chronological timeline, which I think will be pretty cool in the end.

I’m very interested to see how this all turns out. When I produce music, I usually do everything from the songwriting all the way to the final mix. It never gets done the same way, or in the same order. With all the different ways we all create music, it will be interesting to see how our talents and weaknesses will fit together.

Ok, so the loop is out there. The first person to work on the track will be Travis Whitmore. I realize that the loops is simple and short, but I’m hoping his drums will bring a feel that the rest of the song can be built on. I expect the drum work will be short, and will only be played over the initial loop. After that, the song can be built, and we’ll bring Travis back near the end of the writing to flesh out the drums with all the other instruments.

So far the following people other than myself are in this project:

Darren Levy
Travis Whitmore
Jon Tidey
Jamal from True Brew Records
Dan Foley
Mr. Fresh
Bryan from the ImaginationConsultant
TC Helentjaris
Paul Schaeffer

For all those listed, please confirm your interest in the comments, and if I missed any of you in the Dropbox invitation, please let me know. Also, let me know what your preference is to work on.

I would like this track to be accessible to people who aren’t music nerds like us, so while it doesn’t have to be commercial, it would cool if it wasn’t too out there in the end. I’m also going to provide a theme that we should think about as we get to our tasks. The theme will be music you would enjoy listening to while driving. Could be a plane, train, or automobile; whatever works for you.

Ok, the track is now in Travis’ hands. Who wants to work on melodies next? Let me know in the comments. Goooooooo team!

Collaboration Project Loop for by keyofgrey

Update Jan. 17, 2011 – Here is what the project sounds like as of 1/10/2011. Sounds great so far guys! Jan 10 Rough Mix of Collab Project by keyofgrey

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  1. Travis Whitmore says: December 10, 2010

    Excited to get started! Sean, I have some questions, but will send you an email reply offline. I’ve never used reaper, but will get on it asap.


  2. Mr Fresh says: December 12, 2010


    Cool! I have accessed the file via Dropbox and it’s now synced to my iPod. I’m a guitarist so, within the theme of things, I’ll start working on some stuff for it. I, too, have never used Reaper, but the bass player in the group I play in is well versed in it. Thanks for the outline of things above.


    Mr. Fresh

    (PS; real name is Doug also, are there two of us on the collab?)

  3. Mr Fresh says: December 12, 2010

    P.S.S….Why does that minifig on the left have a rifle?? LOL

  4. Mr Fresh says: December 12, 2010

    Oops…my fault…handheld radio! Ha!

  5. Travis Whitmore says: December 14, 2010

    Drum files are uploaded to the dropbox folder! – next?

  6. ~Jon~ says: December 14, 2010

    I set up the Reaper session. Sean needs to re-render his loop before we can move on.

    Thanks for doing the drums Travis.

  7. Dan Foley says: December 17, 2010

    Hi All…

    I haven’t had a chance to try out a copy of Reaper yet, but will do. By the way, Dropbox just came out of beta yesterday, so might be worth grabbing the update!

  8. Bryan J Zimmerman says: December 27, 2010


    Sorry gang, I just noticed the link in my dropbox.

    I will read through the comments and start collaborating!

  9. Bryan J Zimmerman says: December 27, 2010

    OK . . I forgot to list my preference for this project, which would be guitar.


  10. Bryan J Zimmerman says: December 27, 2010

    Hi Gang,

    I added a couple of guitar tracks, and hopefully I did it correctly. This is my first time using Reaper, but after using Logic for 5 years it wasn’t too bad.

    Key Of Grey Collab-gtr01.RPP is a rhythm track and Key Of Grey Collab-gtr01-lead.RPP is just me jamming over top of the melody.

    I hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes, but it seemed like there wasn’t much activity so I decided to dive in.

    I am looking forward to your feedback (no pun intended).


  11. Sean says: December 30, 2010

    @Bryan: Sounds good, thanks!

  12. Bryan J Zimmerman says: December 30, 2010

    Glad you like it Sean. It is just a start, but I can see this growing into a pretty cool little project.


  13. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 5, 2011

    Hi Gang,

    The Home Recording Show is having a contest for a new intro for their podcast. I thought it would be cool to use this as an entry as there is a deadline to keep us on track, and it would be cool if they chose it.

    The details are as follows:


    Dear Home Recording Show listeners,

    Weโ€™ve decided to retire our opening theme song, and we thought it might be fun to see what you guys can come up with.

    Any suitable style
    30-60 seconds in length
    must be loopable
    Deadline: Jan 30 2011
    Our favorite submission will used for the rest of the year starting February.

    Submit your mp3 by email or link to in comments

    Weโ€™re looking forward to hearing what you can do.


    Jon, Ryan, & Jesse


    The URL to the site is

    What does everyone think?


  14. ~Jon~ says: January 5, 2011

    hahaha I’m not doing ANYTHING for those losers.

  15. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 6, 2011

    I fee like a complete ass. I didn’t make the connection, my apologies.


  16. ~Jon~ says: January 6, 2011

    don’t be, I’m pretty sure I’m the ass.
    Sean and I were talking yesterday and we decided I should chop the tracks up into loops and create an arrangement before we go much further.

  17. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 6, 2011

    OK . . . I got it. Everyone here is an ASS!! This way all bases are covered.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ j/k

    I am looking forward to jumping back in, so keep us posted on the progress.


  18. CD says: January 6, 2011

    Right on.

    Sounds like perhaps what’s needed next is some bass. I’ll try to throw down a couple loops against the guitar that Bryan put in.

    Then maybe we could figure out the structure a bit more. Sound good?

  19. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 6, 2011

    Works for me CD, can’t wait to hear it!

  20. CD says: January 7, 2011

    So Bryan (and everyone else.)

    I created a bass part. I think I can do better though but musically I think it’s the right idea.

    * * *

    Structure and song wise — what this song is starting to sound like is kind of a post-rock/hip hop kind of thing. (Anyone heard of Blue Sky, Black Death? That’s what occurs to me.)

    I’m thinking what might be appropriate is some pad/soundscapes for use in the background.

    Plus some strings, piano parts, etc and a couple of percussion loops.

    So the existing chunk we have, call it Section A.

    Perhaps before it — there’s an intro (four or eight bars).

    So maybe the rough structure is:


    Section A(8 Bars)

    Section A(8 Bars) — with variations

    Section B (16 Bars) — Introduce Chorus Melody.

    Section A(8 Bars)

    Section A(8 Bars) — with variations

    Section B (16 Bars) — Introduce Chorus Melody.

    Intro/Breakdown — maybe this repeats some of the musical ideas of the intro?

    Repeat all the above? Add more?

    * * *

    So that’s what’s in my head. What do people think?

  21. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 7, 2011


    That sounds like a good start, however, I would like to hear what the others have to say.

    I took the liberty of doing a quick mix of all instruments involved so far. It is in a folder called 01/2011 and the file name is KeyOfGrey-bass-drums-keys-gtrs.wav

    BTW . . I love the bass stops you did when I slid between the chords. Very nice touch.

    Looking forward to everyone’s input!


  22. Sean says: January 9, 2011

    Hey guys, thanks for all your hard work! Jon is going to be the next one on this, and he’s going to organize everything that’s been done so far.

  23. ~Jon~ says: January 9, 2011

    OK guys. I’ve created an arrangement to work with so it feels a little more like a song. I think everything got used except one part of the Rthm guitar which sounded off to my ear. I also added a couple cymbal samples to accent the changes more.

    I think this is as good as the arrangement will get unless we change things up with a new beat.
    I can’t think of anything else to add so its someone else’s turn.

  24. Travis Whitmore says: January 10, 2011

    Just listened to the samples, sounds good! Let me know if/when you may need another stab at the drum tracks…

  25. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 10, 2011

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for taking the time to arrange the tracks, you gave me a cool idea. After the four bars of just bass and guitar, I can hear a shift to C and D.

    I uploaded a new mix in the 2011 folder called “key-change.” Let me know what you think.

    Also, regarding the guitar tracks sounding “off,” I wasn’t planning on using the tracks for any type of final piece. They were strictly rough tracks that I planned on polishing up if you guys liked it. I figured no sense in going nuts if everyone hated it.


  26. CD says: January 10, 2011

    Everyone —

    I think perhaps a drum breakdown or some kind of atmospheric section makes sense.

    I’ll try to put together a couple of ideas that build on Jon’s arrangement.

  27. ~Jon~ says: January 16, 2011

    Who hasn’t had a turn yet? No work has been done since the 10th.

  28. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 17, 2011


    I must admit that I am somewhat confused as to where we are going with this. I am assuming it will eventually lead to a full length song?

    Also, no one responded to my idea for the intro.


  29. Sean says: January 17, 2011

    Hi guys,

    Just wanted to update on the status of the project. There are no definitive plans on whether this will become a full length song but as it stands, it looks like it’s going in that direction.

    I just contacted Doug, and he will be working on the track next. After we hear what he comes up with, we’ll see what should be added next. Also, I’ll update this post right now with an audio version of where the project stands courtesy of Jon.

    Thanks for all the hard work guys!

  30. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 17, 2011

    Sean and JON,

    First off, very nice mix, however, I think the keys need to come down just a hair.

    I would also like to redo the guitar tracks as they were laid down for “scratch” purposes only.

    This is sounding great! I am stoked to be a part of it!! Thanks for initiating the project Sean!


  31. CD says: January 17, 2011

    Yeah, I like the mix too. Nice work Jon.

    I think once we’ve got all the structure figured out, I’d like to rework my bass and achieve a better overall sound.

  32. Sean says: January 26, 2011

    Hi Guys..just wanted to update everyone that Dan is now working on the song. Thanks!

  33. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 26, 2011


    Is Dan ‘CD’? I do not see a Dan listed anywhere?


  34. Sean says: January 26, 2011

    Hey Bryan, Dan is Dan Foley from Podcomplex.

  35. Bryan J Zimmerman says: January 26, 2011


    Please forgive my naivety, but I have no clue what Podcomplex is or their involvement with this project.

    Sorry ๐Ÿ™


  36. Sean says: February 7, 2011

    @Bryan: Dan runs the site PodComplex and he’s one of the people who contacted me privately about working on the project.

    Sorry for the lack of activity on this project, been very busy. I will check on its progress tonight and determine the next step!

  37. Bryan J Zimmerman says: February 7, 2011

    Hey Sean,

    Thanks for the reply and no need for apologies. Looking forward to the next phase!!


  38. Sean says: February 16, 2011

    Hi guys, a quick update: The track is back in Travis’ hands to rework the drums with all the new instrumentation. Thanks!

  39. Travis says: February 18, 2011

    Hey guys – I uploaded another drum take to the dropbox folder (2011 folder) – Let me know what you think. I think Sean (or Jon?) will be adding it to the remaining parts. Thanks!

  40. Bryan J Zimmerman says: February 19, 2011


    The drums sound great, however, I would like to hear them with the other instruments.

    @Everyone – I would like to eventually redo my guitar parts and have not heard any feedback on the “key change” idea that is in the 2011 folder.

    Looking forward to hearing those drums in the mix Travis! Nice work!


  41. ~Jon~ says: February 19, 2011

    Hey guys!
    I updated the session with Dan’s synths and Travis’ new drums.

    Has everyone had a turn?

    @Bryan You can redo your guitar part if you want but I’d like to keep the project moving forward rather than backtracking again and again. If we change the key we have to redo all the other instruments so let’s keep it how it is.

  42. Bryan J Zimmerman says: February 19, 2011

    @Jon ~ Yes, I would like to redo my part. That was nothing more than a scratch track, and I don’t think you would ask any musician to keep the scratch.

    As far as the key change, where is the experimentation man? I thought this was a collaboration of ideas, not some final mix for a movie soundtrack?

    Either way I am along for the ride bro, not a stress trip.


  43. Bryan J Zimmerman says: April 16, 2011

    Hey Gang . .

    Just checking in . . no updates since February?


  44. Sean says: August 23, 2011

    Hi guys…sorry it’s been so long since I’ve even updated the site at all. I’m not dead so there’s at least that :D. I’m really not sure what to do with this project right now, it’s at a point when I don’t think that one person can finish it off.

    What would you think about releasing the stem files for everyone to remix as they like. Then we could all release a track based upon the source material. Would it be cool if this was a contest? Not sure how we would score it, and I don’t have much to give away but maybe we could work something out. I have a Korg NanoPad that I took out of the box but never use that I could donate to the contest.


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