Two Essential Elements of Great-Sounding Collabs

  • by Kim Bjørn

So you’ve got your collab game on — but the results sound more like “every man for himself” than a paragon of musical teamwork. To overcome this, there are two vital aspects that must be considered in achieving your group’s desired groove and sonic impression

Synchronization
Tight timing synchronisation – or a deliberate lack of it – can be vital to your groove. If you’re playing heavily arpeggiated Berlin-school music, you probably want all collaborators to be synchronized by MIDI or wirelessly via Ableton Link. If you’re doing freeform jazz or sloppy hip-hop beats with freestyle rap, you probably don’t need to. In all cases, you want to be able to skip beats or tap the tempo to stay in time.

Contrast
Just as we use mixing and arrangement techniques to carve out a space for each of the instruments in a mix, similar considerations should be made in your collaborative ensemble, to give each member their own space.  Use contrast in frequency (bass/treble), rhythm (fast/slow), voicing (melody/chords/bassline), timbre, and other audible — and, if performing, visible — elements. By assigning clear roles from the start, it’s much easier to come up with complementary parts and performances  – just like the cello, and the violin with the viola in between, in a classical orchestra.
The many works of electronic musician Alva Noto with film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto provide captivating examples of contrasting performance and collaboration — here’s one to check out:



It goes without saying that what makes a great-sounding collaboration is a very long list of near infinite factors. You’ll find many more tales of collaboration and community within the entire Bjooks catalog - PUSH TURN MOVE, PATCH & TWEAK, PEDAL CRUSH, and PATCH & TWEAK with Moog

Thanks for learning with us! Tune in again for more entries on many different topics. 

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema

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