Virtual Oasis – thoughts and experiences about online based music production and collaborative writing techniques


In my artistic lifetime I have witnessed many changes in the way music is experienced, heard and made. From vinyl platters to encoded Mp3 files via cassettes, DAT’s, CD’s and 8-tracks. What previously sat in the studio as a vinyl collection, taking up a whole wall unit now resides on an external hard drive that fits very comfortably into my jacket pocket. Studios have undergone a similar transformation. From awesome Neve and SSL analogue mixing desks reminiscent of Captain Kirk operating the Star Ship Enterprise to a software program on a laptop, free to download online. Amongst all this the way music is made, the way people collaborate with each other from distant corners of the earth has transformed so dramatically. The key to these changes is the Internet. Now I can be in Nicosia and work with a music maker in San Francisco or Adelaide a-synchronically, exchanging and recording wav or aiff files which are made into songs. What seemed like the impossible before the mid-1990’s, particularly for someone based as an artist in a place with a weak or relatively expensive recording studio infrastructure, can now be an accessible reality.

Online collaboration and co-writing is then the main subject of this paper and what follows is largely based on self-experiences of writing and making recordings online. This is an ethnographic study of sorts, although I must stress form the outset that it has not been written as a deliberate piece of research, as say a structured process of participant observation such as valuable work conducted in the field of music production and ethnomusicology (Porcello, T 2005 and Torino, T, 2008). My thoughts have come largely from a series of experiences of online recording which worked out and others which did not. In looking at this from a self-reflexive viewpoint I started to consider the significance of rhetorical exchange as a key element in online communication (Jackson & Wallin, 2009).  My main argument, I would not like to call it a thesis, as this paper should not be taken as a blueprint for creative musical collaboration online, rhetoric is a relevant issue worth considering in creative collaborations. Before elaborating on this through a case study of works  made jointly with Dub Caravan, known as ‘Virtual Oasis’,  it is pertinent by way of introduction to outline a dilemma that troubles many people regarding the Internet age in which we live.  In some ways this quandary confirms the value of rhetorical exchange in our contemporary lives.

A dilemma

Virtual notions of reality, ‘the Global Village’, (McLuhan, M, 1962) or having the world at your fingertips with the click of a mouse is in many ways appealing (Gauntlett, D & Horsey, R, 2004) and elusive, if not mythical (Hindman, M, 2009).  Obviously the Internet has radically changed the way we use media and the way media use us. The Music Industry, for want of a much better term, has undergone major plastic surgery in all aspects of its operations as a result of the Net. We can now make, edit, record and master a track in the morning and upload it by lunch time, sharing it with hundreds, thousands and potentially millions of people by the afternoon as a download. This is great in so many ways. But there is a very illusive quality to it. Fair enough virtually any one can do anything these days, and that is the great joy of any artistic/creative presence online. The indie spirit, so punk and mid-1970’s, has never had it so good.  But something in these very accessible times also makes  me wonder that there must be more to it than everybody can create because not everybody can actually sing or play their music live. There is still this magic to the real world of a band or artist in front of an audience, be it a live concert, a club or event. The connection some how, that spark of communication of the direct, experiential realm will always remain constant in the art of music making and sharing. Aside form this magical quality, the online world in which we leap from site to site, subject to subject and virtual place to place some times lacks reasoning. I started to realize this after making many collaborative recordings online. Some things worked out and others just collapsed or reached a dead-end. In these exchanges it became very apparent to me that communication as a dialogic and participatory process was central to matters working out. This led me to question the at times ephemeral qualities of the Internet and forced me to focus on a set of qualitative dimensions.

How do we talk to each other online? What methods, text, audio, video play a big part in the depth or shallowness of exchanges. Are people collaborating on a song or project actually communicating or just sending files to each other and not giving feedback? In various combined works I started to question how I communicated with people, what was happening, why and how things developed and progressed, and in many cases why they did not move beyond a certain point. In doing all of this it was apparent that yes the ‘global village’ was a wonderful thing but at the end of part of the process, reasoning on the work itself, played a key role in its success or failure.

It is at the same time a difficult thing to quantify. I cannot say that 1 in 5 collaborations work out and the rest are doomed to fail. Experiences of working with people online however do affect whether they will work with you again and whether you will work with them again and despite the openness of the Internet, and its ‘24/7’ access all hours and people potential, for joint creations, we still have to reason with each other, we still have to engage and essentially communicate.  So despite the many articles I have read in various magazine publications concerning online collaboration which outline all the technical aspects, very few, if in fact any, have ever addressed key issues of the process, namely, communication, dialogue and qualitative aspects of rhetorical exchange.

Background – The Revolution has many interfaces!

Writing music online is nothing new. In 1994 ResRocket was the first online ‘band’ project with over 1,000 participants who exchanged ideas and files via a mailing list and ftp server1. By 1999 this had developed into one of the first live online music collaborations, screened on BBC TV in front of 55 million viewers. Bob Marley’s ‘Them Belly Full (but we hungry)’ was recorded live involving Sinead O’Connor, and Brinsley Forde  in London, Thomas Dolby in San Francisco and Lucky Dube in South Africa.[2] While this marked a radical change in online music production it would take another few years before such creative collaborations would have more mass appeal from a production standpoint.

An obvious change came in radical developments in music production itself. The advent of more accessible and affordable Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) which evolved from early pricey microprocessor based non-analogue tapeless systems, such as the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI to software such as DigiDesign’s Pro Tools, Logic Audio and Cubase ( the latter via the earlier pioneering Atari ST). Digitisation in more recent years has resulted in even cheaper or freeware options. A PreSonus soundcard for example comes with a free version of the company’s own DAW software called Studio One (Presonus, 2010). Reaper from Cockos calls itself ‘Audio Production without limits’ and while it can be purchased the free evaluation copy functions in exactly the same manner (Reaper, 2010).

Simultaneously, The Internet itself has changed dramatically in terms of bandwidth, speed and accessibility. We have moved from archaic (by today’s standards) brick sized modems for the few who knew how to use binary computer code  in the mid-1980’s to more compact modems with increased bandwidth and more recently DSL and fibre optic connections. Ten years ago it was possible to send a wav or aiff file online, it may have taken a few hours but now, it is much faster and easier, taking perhaps 10-15 minutes for say a 54 megabyte wav file. This is usually done through file transfer web sites such as ‘Sendspace’ and ‘Yousendit’. Many musicians now work together through their own ftp sites accessible with a username and password through their own web sites.  These advances have made a-synchronous music collaboration much more accessible to more people online in different locations around the world.  Fully synchronised collaboration exists as well, although this is usually subscriber based with a fee and requires substantial outbound bandwidth, often not accessible to as many people2.  Examples of this include RiffWorks (   and NinJamm ( although at times there are latency issues with both.

So although it is possible to link up studios in real time by using a service such as ‘source direct’ or an Avid Satellite link the cost of these options would be substantially high3. Synchronised music production online in different studios is still an emerging form of technology at least in terms of mass usage. It is likely, given rapid changes in technology that this may change through existing online communication tools, such as say Skype.

It is tempting at this point to view all these developments simply from a technologically deterministic standpoint, a view which one often finds in professional music production magazines which can be interpreted like a bunch of reviews on products, software and releases which exist in a kind of non-social world. I find such approaches based on technological determinism to be flawed from the outset as for me it is more important to understand how we can utilise various tools to create and make music through social engagement. The bottom line is not so much how the tools use us but how we use the tools and how these changes have had a sociological impact in interactive creative processes from symbolic and symbiotic points of view.

We have moved from a ‘sit-back-and-be-told culture’ to a ‘making-and-doing culture’ (Gauntlett, 2010).  There are many social media web sites now which allow us to upload, share and exchange music, such as FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, ReverbNation, Myspace, Soundcloud and Soundclick to name just a few. More niche oriented social media sites and web portals that specialize in particular forms of music and music scenes also exist. So people work within specific genres and across them. For example, Dubstep, The Dub Scrolls, BeatPort, and HipHop Makers4. Through such sites, generic and niche, I found myself working online with people in Greece, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, UK, USA, and Cyprus.

The main reasons why I engaged in online musical collaboration was partly a frustration I had with studio based work, particularly being a spoken word based artist based in Cyprus making reggae, where many local studios and producers lack experience in these genres. I also entered into online collaborations by being approached by various people, who were more grounded in the kinds of music I engage in, to work with them online.

What appealed most to me was the openness of the Internet and the fact that it allowed users to explore so many different avenues in an accessible and democratic manner. Immediacy was also a major bonus. A song as I found out could be created, recorded, edited, mixed and mastered in different places in say 24 hours. Additionally, various aspects of music production, distribution, promotion, and management became demystified. It became that much easier to make and share music with specific audiences via free social media web sites. So independent net based labels, which Chuck D from Public Enemy dubbed as ‘Winties’ (web based independent labels)5 sprouted up in many countries around the world. The traditional filtering role played by radio and TV in the music industry in some ways became obsolete, after all much of the time they played only material that was signed to major labels and artists that had spent substantial amounts of money on their video clips. Now it is much easier to set up say a myspace account, upload some songs, live band footage, and gets known. Guerilla music making and self-marketing techniques are nothing new. They were deeply embedded in so many popular music scenes from punk rock to reggae. But the Internet suddenly gave that much more power to musicians to simply make, share and raise awareness of their existence. It is for example pointless and many people could also argue that it was from time,  to send hundreds of cassettes or CD’s or vinyl demos out to record companies for consideration. Now an electronic press kit (EPK) could be assembled for free and sent to hundreds of targeted people with the click of a mouse.

So within all these radical changes I found myself adapting as an artist to the new terrain and what follows is largely an autobiographic ethnography of one of these online production experiences, the creation of ‘Virtual Oasis’ a CD made with Dub Caravan, who I ‘met’ initially online.

Virtual Oasis Online as a Case Study

Many people find it funny if not surrealistic that two people can make a CD with 18 tracks from different parts of the world entirely online without ever meeting physically. In a way the equivalent in a personal relationship could be to get married via a blind date on the internet. But even in that kind of situation people who ‘meet’ and marry, often spend a certain amount of time ‘texting’, ‘skyping’, ‘talking’ online before they actually physically meet. In the process, their rhetorical exchanges online are used as ways of exploring possibilities before meeting physically.

Before outlining Virtual Oasis as a case study I would like to make a couple of points on methodological concerns. This was from the outset a creative word, and not a deliberated empirical case study. It is an autobiographic ethnography of sorts that developed out of creative exchanges that worked remarkably well for both music makers. What interested me in an academic sense was why this worked out from the aspect of rhetorical exchanges in the co-authoring of music. I felt lessons could be learned through these experiences in a qualitative way. I did not do this as a kind of blue-print or model for success for all people in online co-authoring situations, as that would be impossible given that every conjuncture in the making of music is different. It is just as a reflexive study of observations in a process of production that I participated in, which led to the creation of a mutual project and tour.

The case study begins with a diagram. I ‘met’ Dub Caravan through a message on MySpace asking me to collaborate on a couple of spoken work tunes with a ‘dubby middle eastern feel’. This initially led to co-authoring 3 songs online which led to an intention to make a full CD together. In these processes a network of online connections was established, including additional collaborators, Steffen Franz, mastering in San Francisco and Snr. Calavera, design in Mexico. These links are outlined in the diagram below.

Figure 1. Organizational Map Virtual Oasis

Collaboration, in any context in the making of music is multi-faceted. It has many dynamics. In the making of music over the last twenty years as an independent artist I have taken on different roles such as writer, performing, manager, roadie, promoter, publisher and pr person, to name just a few. In situations of co-authoring, I learned through experience to avoid the creation of formal hierarchical roles, as this fosters inequality and eventually leads to disagreements. In the co-authoring situation of Virtual Oasis we found the following elements had to be addressed carefully – with consideration for the different phases of production:

  • Creative – discussion of ideas, writing, arrangement of songs, recording, editing and mixing, design of sleeve artwork
  • Legal aspects – registration of songs with Performing Rights Society (PRS for Music)

The manner in which these issues were addressed always contained a rhetorical and intellectual quality, carried out online, with detailed reasoning occurring through methods such as text based and audio/visual Skype exchanges. These eventually led to actual contact, some months later in Cyprus, when we first met, rehearsed and toured the project in a live actual sense. In online and actual exchanges the value of rhetorical exchange was paramount, leading me to reflecting on these qualities. It became obvious that both authors were in a series of rhetorical situations, with constant daily contact and detailed discussion. In many ways the more we talked, the quicker the work progressed. Communication proved over time to play a key role in the completion of the recording. At this point it is worth reflecting on the concept of the rhetorical situation. Traced back to Aristotle, the Ancient Greek philosopher (384-322 B.C) this theory allows us to break down arguments with the objective of understanding their appeal. The rhetorical triangle contains three key elements, outlined in diagram 2 below:

Figure 2. Aristotle’s Rhetorical Triangle

Communication within this model is essentially a three-way relationship.  Each point of the triangle influences the others and all are influenced by the context of communication. Each point of the triangle is integral to the success of any form of communication. Additionally each point corresponds and functions in the overall process of communication.

It may seem  strange applying such a model to the context of popular music songs,  which despite being manufactured and constructed as recordings and performance pieces, cannot somehow been broken down as a rigid process of ‘ethos’ – ethical appeal, pathos – emotional appeal and logos – logical appeal.  However if we take a song as a form of communication, a line of argument explored and shared  by many popular music scholars (Longhurst, B, 2000; Negus, K, 1997) then it follows that the Aristotelian Rhetorical Triangle is relevant.  A song can have an ethical appeal, based on a certain argument. For example one of the songs written with Dub Caravan on ‘Virtual Oasis’ is called ‘People Are People’. This advocates, in the main chorus, for a more humanist approach to the world:

People are people

Every Day

Place tribes, races

Coming together the world over, love harmony

People are people

One Inity

People are people

Inna the struggle

People are people

Can’t you see

Additionally, the music in the same song has an emotional appeal through the addition of a melodica on the chorus, played by Shaky Norman from France. This adds an element of sadness, even despair to the ethical appeal of the chorus.  The lyrics also have a logical appeal. As the title suggests ‘people are people’. It’s a line that I had on my mind for many years as a direct response to more conformist racialized and ethnicized notions of identity where people are always divided, often at odds or war with each other.  These different elements where extensively discussed online between the two authors. The lyrics, the music and the addition of a melodica to add a lamenting sense of emotion. It follows then that issues of ‘rhetoric’ and the role it plays in popular music has been widely debated and discussed and it could be argued that Aristotle’s model could be adapted for this purpose as illustrated in the diagram below:

In this context the ‘author’ writes/creates a song but communication is not just a process of engagement between the ‘author’ and ‘text’ it is also understood, interpreted, and even determined by ‘the audience’. The ‘audience’ cannot also interpret a song without knowing or having some knowledge, even in a superficial way, of the ‘author’. Equally assuming the role of being an ‘author’ requires different forms of engagement with a given ‘audience’ – through say concerts, performances, radio interviews, online and personal feedback/interaction. Each element is crucial in the triangle of writing songs. Much has been written on the issue of rhetoric and popular music (Sellnow, 2010; Moore, A.F, 2003) and there is a strong argument for the opinion that different forms of popular music use different types of rhetoric (Brackett, D, 2000). However limited research has been conducted – outside of Porcello – on the different type of rhetorical engagement in the studio or production environment.  In the context of the present case study, between two different authors online, rhetorical exchanges played a key role in the completion of the project as a fully released production.

Issues of who writes, what roles are assumed, where people are based, how they communicate and what methods are used to make songs are relevant to consider.  Different authors writing together can also have differing understandings of a text and audiences. They can also utilize differing approaches to the craft of song writing. It is often the case that some authors prefer to write lyrics first and then the music follows or vice-a-versa. In the context of Virtual Oasis a number of techniques were used such as:

Haji Mike ­­­à Dub Caravan -> records vocals sent to producer edited mixed version i.e.  ‘The Dreaded Gate’

Dub Caravan à Haji Mike -> recorded music sent to vocalist recorded vocal sent back to producer -> edited mixed version i.e. ‘Freedom’

Songs also happened in different ways based around a word, concept, idea, poem, structure/verse-chorus and/or groove.  There was in this sense no right or magical way of doing things, they just evolved from song to song. This is radically different to many producers who I have worked with in the past who prefer a clearly defined or mapped out sequence/process. For example, producer sends music; writer develops lyrics, records them, and sends back wav files for editing and mixing. Or Producer asks writer for a recorded vocal, usually poetry, which producer then mixes into a pre-arranged sequence of music. The argument for these types of situations is different people prefer different ways of producing music, so if it works, as a process for them, why change or challenge it. Of course in all of these situations, we have to consider who has the final say, who has the last word.

This is important as it can determine what is left in or taken out of a song and why. In situations of online co-authoring which favour a more hierarchical approach, namely one person in the production chain having the role of maestro can lead to differences, misunderstanding and even a ‘parting of the ways’. Partners in these processes can at times feel a sense of exclusion or being kept in the dark about certain aspects, even down to who the song may be accredited to with PRS, which is a legal and creative issue of intellectual copyright.

From the outset, Virtual Oasis had as I said before a non-hierarchical approach to writing together. An agreement was even thrashed out online that had as its basic spirit that ‘it’s not over until we have both agreed’. This was applied to every decision, every part of the production chain. Creative co-authoring in this context became a constant process of negotiation between equal partners who had the same say on everything.

One of the main reasons for adopting this approach was previous experiences by both parties in online collaborations that had for one reason or another turned sour. Where things did not work out, we both learned from common experiences, hierarchical scenarios tended to prevail or other parties lacked a sense, for a variety of reasons, of rhetorical exchange.

What works then had to take into account the value of things not from a commercial view but from the view of people who wanted to work and create together with regard to what sounds better, which language works, which doesn’t, how words are performed, recorded and mixed with music, the overall arrangement of songs and any technical glitches that can occur in transferring files across the internet.

The role of rhetoric in all these exchanges was crucial. I am not however advocating this will work for all people online or that creativity between authors can be seen simply as an issue of good effective rhetorical communication. There is a real danger with doing this as in many ways creativity maintains, at least for me as an author, a certain mysterious allure, which is even more complex when creation is between different authors, where the symbiotic allure can be more intense and demanding. It’s a kind of alchemy that when generalized in the making of music could go terribly wrong. Imagine people en-masse attempting to replicate the writing formula of ‘Lennon & McCartney’ – aside from the lack of originality – such an effort could end up sounding pastiche or horribly wrong.  This is also why writing blueprints can best be understood when they are contextualized. So instead of interpreting them as absolute formulas, they could be viewed more accurately for what they were, creative processes between artists in given times, situations and places, who had a certain magical trait or symbiosis.

Creativity also has certain qualities that are possible to learn. People can for example study how to write songs, methodically.  Additionally some people argue songs are in their ‘DNA’. Bob Marley’s genius as a songwriter for example has in many ways been passed on to his children, as a kind of legacy. Ziggy, Cedella, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani, Julian, for example have all become established singers and performer in their own right. Many of them possess an uncanny similarity to Marley himself vocally, a timbre that only the Marleys have. At the same time they have also learned and acquired creative skills through methodical practice and experience, songwriting, touring, and performance as well as a vast array of business skills that artists need in the industry today. The third element, that ‘magic’ however is not just inherited, it simply happens. Songs such as ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ by Damian Marley and ‘Dear Dad’ by Ky-Mani Marley contain very unique and magical qualities.  These exceptional songs by two of Marley’s children made a significant impact in their own right. ‘Welcome To Jamrock’ released in 2006 narrates life in Jamaica touching on the harsh realities of crime, corruption and poverty – acting as a very alternative storyboard to the one supplied by The Jamaican Tourist Board. Ky-Mani Marley’s ‘Dear Dad’ released in 1999 is based around a loop from Marley’s classic ‘Crazy Baldheads’. It is delivered as a frank letter-rhetorical narration from son to father written after his father died.  In many ways creativity by an individual song writer or in a collaborative process can be viewed as a combination of ‘trait’, ‘method’ and ‘magic’.

Harnad argues creativity is a combination of method and magic which leads him to quote a famous statement by Pasteur: “…le hasard favorise l’esprit prepare” or “chance favours the prepared mind“6

It follows then that we learn from previous experiences but are also open minded enough to explore the unexpected. There is no perfect or right way to create music and co-authoring is a detailed creative process of ‘give and take’. What is being discussed and how, is relevant in this kind of context. Music, lyrics, production, arrangement or mastering are areas for discussion. The way in which they are discussed varies according to time, space and location. For example consider three ways of communication listed below:

  • Text – MSN/Skype/Facebook
  • Video/sound – Skype
  • Email – thread of exchanges

Each communication methods had its pro’s and cons. Text based discussions can lead to misunderstandings. Having them on an email thread can in some ways clarify who said what and when. Seeing and hearing someone through Skype adds the dimensions of voice intonation, speech and visible body/facial language.

On knowing however from previous experiences, somehow we were more able, more prepared to move processes further together, without making the same mistakes that had been made with other people in the past. Additionally, the setting of some kind of parameters, such as completion dates, tasks to be met and when, as well as a consensus built on a collective final say are also important factors in these processes.

So far, in reflecting on this case study I have considered many of the things that can go right, what if things go wrong? This relates largely to a sense of discord created through weak or bad communications skills and processes, which are accentuated more through online exchanges, particularly those that are largely text based. It can also happen however when people interpret things differently

What one thing means to one person may mean an entirely different thing to another (Porcello, V, 2005).  These differences can be exacerbated further when different interpretations on the same subject exist online. With text based communication conventional cues of communication, such as speech, body movement/language and facial expressions are nonexistent making it so much easier to misunderstand each other (Higham, P, 2001). I would like to refer to an anonymous experience I had with a music producer online a few years ago:

–         Producer: “So what kind of sounds are you into?”

–         Self: “I am really into that King Tubby Dub sound, a 1970’s analogue feel”

–         Producer: “You mean like Norman Cook?”

Such differences on actual and artistic production language are important elements for people to work together. It is equally important to consider as a possible addition but not necessarily a pre-requisite language levels and media literacy usage. It is better if people have a common language, on a par with each other than situations where people expressing in different languages could get entirely lost in meaning and translation.

Following on from this I know I have said this several times but the importance of a shared, mutually negotiated end plan is crucial to the success or failure of a project made online. If one person wants to make a CD for sale online and in retail stores as an end objective then this may run totally against the notion of making a full release available as a free download to be shared online. The same applies of course to notions of what scene a project will become a part of. If one person in a co-authoring situation despises dubstep or techno, then it is pointless for the other author in this situation to continue writing or even contemplate re-mixing some tracks along these lines.

Finally, the end plan can also lead to the actual physical connection and the possibilities/feasibilities of live engagement-performance with audiences. This has to be clarified at some point, not necessarily from the outset because you cannot know where you are going to without going on the journey itself. If people reach this point the next step, namely releasing the CD and taking the leap of faith of a live show, without meeting or rehearsing in a real actual sense, they must be totally sure of what is happening and when. Without this kind of discussion, misunderstandings can develop very easily.

In conclusion, this reflective paper has enabled me to look back on a good, productive online experience with Dub Caravan. In doing this I have come to the realization that this should not be seen as a kind of dictum or absolute model for any one to follow as one case study methodologically only reflects itself. There are good and bad experiences in different kinds of creative collaborations. It is important for future ethnographic research to try to explore a wider variety of cases to form more generic observations.

The Internet, whether we like it, or not is here to stay and in more ways than one it has taken over as the dominant communications medium in our lives. ‘Older’ existing media, such as print, TV and Radio have all in one way or another converge with the Internet and absorbed its strengths as a user based creative communications tool. Music production has not been excluded from these processes so in moving with these changing times we should not be  new millennium ‘Luddites’  refusing to acknowledge the relevance of new tools and technology. At the same time however, the allusiveness of net hype and making it big in the music industry needs a more realistic perspective. From personal experience, it was much easier to sell 1,000 12” singles in the 1990’s, breaking even and generating enough profit than it is now to sell 10,000 downloads, to make the same amount of profit.

An important consideration in online production from this case study and previous experiences is the value of actual and artistic production language and finding a degree of effective communication – essentially being on the same wavelength with someone. Language can mean so many things to so many different people. It can be formal/official, informal/vernacular, technical, creative, expressive, verbal/non-verbal, political and cultural. Understanding someone, even at the level of just text, is perhaps the most vital thing to online collaboration. Dialogue through rhetorical exchange is the most important element in a creative process between online authors beyond the act of creation itself.

For this particular online collaboration to grow and manifest itself as songs shared and performed live, an agreement on the end objective was crucial. There is nothing new to this as most professional musicians7 working together should have end objectives and mapped out plans of production. Online however, without that physicality of a meeting in person, these kinds of things can be tricky to negotiate. They are however very important, for without an end game, a collaboration could fade and eventually fizzle out into nothingness. The most anticipated element of this end objective with Dub Caravan was the live setting. Would it work, how would it sound? Could we get on in real settings? In more ways than one we were quiet fortunate in this sense as our live appearances and even the rehearsals have been harmonious and stress free, taking us on a tour of Cyprus and shows in the UK. I am not sure what it is some times that act of creation, particularly when people work together in a band or collaborative project; it is that ‘click’ moment when every body in the room, on the stage or studio actually loves what they are doing. It is like a leap of faith, and it works, if it flows, it can just keep progressing.

The virtuality of online creation has its strengths and weaknesses.   It is important to understand and learn from experiences, share them with wider audiences and this paper has been a small step in that direction. Music production and sharing/exchange has been revolutionized through the Internet. I would argue everything has been shaken up completely from the grass roots to the higher echelons of the music industry by this contemporary communications platform in our media lives. The mythical quality of creation, whether it is solo or joint, remains intact. There is no one way forward. Even in the heyday of the mammoth music industry there was no one way forward. There are and have always been many options in front of us. Nowadays however these have multiplied giving more access to more people worldwide. This cultural openness however, located potentially at the tip of everyone’s fingertips, on screens and machines is still a form of communication, and in a rhetorical sense, without talking, without communication; there is no creation let alone finished product.

About the Author

Mike Hajimichael aka Haji Mike
University of Nicosia


1 author unknown, web site accessed 23/05/11 9.00 am

2 Ibid ref 1

3 author unknown web site accessed 23/05/11 9.09 am, and author unknown web site accessed 23/05/11 9.11 am

4 author unkwown web site accessed 23/05/11 9.13 am “Dub Scrolls” by ‘The Intereuptor, web site accessed 23/05/11 9.15 am Valenzuela, M, web site accessed 23/05/11 9.18 am

5 ‘Money for Nothing’ DVD, Media Education Foundation, 2002, Jhally, S web site accessed 23/05/11 9.20 am

6 ‘Creativity: Method or Magic’ Harnad, S web site accessed  23/05/11 10.10 am

7 Just for the point of clarification I am using the term ‘professional’ to mean any one who earns their income either solely or partly through music. We all enter agreements, verbal or written and engage in rhetorical exchanges on musical subject matters – from say the violinist who has to agree a set for a couple’s wedding to the pop star, with a manager planning a world tour.


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Lennon, John. 1971 ‘Imagine’, Parlaphone 7” single, SPD 568

Marley, Bob. 1974 ‘Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)’ on Natty Dread. Island Music, ILPS 9281

Marley, Bob. 1974 ‘No Woman No Cry’ on Live At The Lyceum. Island Music, WIP 6244

Marley, Ky-Mani. 1999  ‘Dear Dad (This Is The Letter)’ on The Journey. Gee Street, GEE1006852

Marley, Damian. 2005 ‘Welcome To Jamrock’  on Welcome To Jamrock. Tuff Gong/Universal, MCSTD 40432

Mike, Haji & Caravan, Dub. 2010. Virtual Oasis. DubMed Music – DubMed CD001

Prince. 1987 ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ WEA 12” Single – WEA W8334 T

Rufus & Khan, Chaka. 1983 ‘Aint Nobody’ 12” single, Warner Bros. 92.0157-0

The Sex Pistols, 1977. ‘God Save The Queen’ on Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. Virgin V2086