Musicians Collaborate from Afar on the Web Imagine if John had never met Paul. Well, these days Web sites are making it easier for would-be Lennons and McCartneys to collaborate without ever meeting each other in person.
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Musicians Collaborate from Afar on the Web

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Musicians Collaborate from Afar on the Web

Musicians Collaborate from Afar on the Web

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On Mondays, the business report focuses on technology. And today, we'll find out about something new in the technology of making music. We start out with a bass line.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: That was recorded by musician John Dragonetti in his home studio. Then he put it up on a Web site called Then somewhere out in cyberspace another musician who had never met Mr. Dragonetti came along, heard that bass line and posted an electric guitar track to the same site.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: So now two things are happening at once. And then a singer, Blake Hazard, also out in cyberspace, wrote some vocals and recorded them on that site.

(Soundbite of song, "Peace and Hate")

Ms. BLAKE HAZARD: (Singing) When will I learn? It's not your fault.

INSKEEP: And she's the one who then put all these elements together into a song, which is called "Peace and Hate."

(Soundbite of song, "Peace and Hate")

Ms. HAZARD: (Singing) I should be gone, cast away. And still I love you through all peace and hate.

INSKEEP: And there you go, the song by a band whose members have never seen each other. The song lives on the site now. And anybody who fancies themselves a musician can go in, press a remix button and add their own tracks or make their own version out of the same parts. is one of half a dozen new sites where musicians can meet and compose and play together. And we learned more about it from Wired News writer, Eliot Van Buskirk.

Mr. ELIOT VAN BUSKIRK (Wired News): We've already seen a stage where people are consuming music over the Internet in a whole new way. And what we haven't seen very much of is people creating music in a new way using the Internet. And that's what this is all about.

You can literally plug a guitar into your computer and start playing with somebody in another city in real time, or you know, in a more serious studio session kind of way, where you each lay down tracks individually and create a finished product.

INSKEEP: So you're in New York as we speak. I'm in Washington D.C. This means that I can start playing guitar - if I had any competence at all - and you could start singing at the same time and it will all be recorded on this Web site somewhere, metaphorically, in between us?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Exactly, for the whole world to hear.

INSKEEP: And in fact, some guy in Kenya could throw in his drum playing, if he would like to do that.

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Exactly. And that's what I think is so astounding about this.

INSKEEP: Is it also possible that after we three in Washington, New York and Kenya put together our recording all at the same time, it remains on the Web site, and maybe three days from now somebody in South Korea discovers this and adds his trombone sound to the same recording?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: That's the idea. I mean some of these tracks had as many as five people or more participating.

INSKEEP: Well, let's give a listen to song that was created this way. It's called "Nine Years Old."

(Soundbite of song, "Nine Years Old")

Mr. KEVIN MANEY (Singer): (Singing) Nine years old, sunken road. Mrs. Grandel teaching us some math. Sometimes, just before the morning light...

INSKEEP: We have harmony.

(Soundbite of song, "Nine Years Old")

Mr. MANEY: (Singing) I get a sudden sadness in my bones.

INSKEEP: Where is "American Idol" when you need them?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Oh, they're working on that next probably. So that...

INSKEEP: So people singing in harmony there were in completely different cities, I assume?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Different cities, different times. The guy who wrote that...

INSKEEP: Kevin Maney, that's his name, I believe.

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Yeah. Exactly. He's an amateur musician. And he laid down that guitar track and his vocal track and put it up on the site. And the next thing you know, there's this beautiful female harmony line that just becomes interspersed with that just by virtue of him putting it on the site.

(Soundbite of song, "Nine Years Old")

Mr. MANEY: (Singing) ...I never see him again.

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: And suddenly, the song has a holding resonance.

(Soundbite of song, "Nine Years Old")

Mr. MANEY: (Singing) Sometimes just before the morning light...

INSKEEP: You a musician?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Well, I pretend to be.

INSKEEP: You ever done this?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: I have, in fact. I went on a site called eJamming, which lets you actually play live with other people. So I go on there and I just start laying down a bass line, you know, whatever came into my head. And the guy on the other end - I don't even know where he was - he's playing guitar. And he lays down this guitar line that's the exact guitar solo from the Beatles' "Let it Be." And I hadn't realized that that was the chord structure that I was playing on the bass line. So it was one of those classic moments that you get in a rehearsal space, you know, when you're actually with somebody in real life, bouncing ideas off of each other.

INSKEEP: Well, let me ask about that difference, particularly since you mentioned the Beatles. There's a great songwriting group. How can that possibly happen over great distances, when you never even met the other guy?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: As the next generation of musicians comes up with these sites where they can collaborate with each other, hopefully more Johns will meet more Pauls.

INSKEEP: And is anybody making money off of this?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Well, I think there's a lot of potential for these sites to become sort of a next generation record label, because they're in the position to figure out which of the tracks their users create are the best. They know where to find these users and they have an audience for them.

INSKEEP: Are there talents scouts - A&R men, I guess they're called - for the traditional record industry, who are scouting these sites?

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: I would not be surprised at all.

INSKEEP: Well, Mr. Van Buskirk, thanks very much for talking with us.

Mr. VAN BUSKIRK: Thank you so much.

INSKEEP: Eliot Van Buskirk writes about music for Wired News. And you can try your hand at remixing "Nine Years Old" and "Peace and Hate" via links at Try to remix the news itself if you want to.

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