Jazz and collaboration is learning

I have been trying to begin the writing process for my blog for years now (I call myself a professional procrastinator; but that’s food for another post). So now – after being asked to do so for someone else’s blog – I decided that it was time to just do it. This means that there is a quick answer to the main question of this writing:

What do I/you/we get from artistic and creative collaboration?

To me it’s pretty obvious, it got me started. It became an impulse, a kind of pressure strong enough to get my hands on work. The fact that it is not just me, alone, any more; the addition of a much more tangible deadline (have you ever tried to set a deadline for yourself? Never worked for me). So me here, collaborating with Stew¬†for his blog, already brought me some benefits and hopefully will benefit others as well. Now let’s take a deeper look at what collaborating is and how we can take advantage of it.

A good start would be to define what collaborating is. We feed our creativity from interaction, places, sounds, flavors and more importantly other people. People become our muses, our mentors, support us economically or emotionally. We need those relationships for our creativity to run and the inspiration to show up. But collaborating is something more that goes beyond it, getting our hands on someone else’s work for awhile. At the same time, (and this is the hardest part) letting someone else modify our work, having a common objective regarding the creative object.

I have been a jazz vocalist for more than a decade now and as such am used to certain types of collaboration very inherent to music and specifically to jazz. Jam sessions are the perfect example of what I have experienced as collaboration. They are the inevitable place for spontaneous group creation, a continuous chat between instruments, feeding each other with ideas and resources. In that ephemeral space musicians are creating a whole, behaving like a team. But, there is also the loneliness, the solitude that accompanies us everywhere we go and somehow becomes even more piercing when in a crowd. That kind of isolation is vital for the little piece of creation to be made by each musician. That same individualism is needed for all the arts.

So, what makes collaborating any different? Well, I think we can point out two main aspects:

  1. the fact that the responses we provoke and are provoked in us will have a direct impact on the same piece of work and,
  1. the limit we now have for our exploration inside ourselves. It becomes clear that a specific and unique object (tangible or intangible) needs to be created and the birth of that object will determine if the collaboration was such. The interaction between two or more people will automatically stop us from reaching any deeper in our own thoughts and feelings, resulting in a “smoother” art, more consensual. We will be having to react to the other artist’s proposal, more often than not changing the direction of the flow, the meaning or the process itself.

I would say that the main benefit that we can get from collaboration is learning. We have access to someone else’s creative process and that is priceless. We end up immersed in an intensive hands-on practice in new ways and putting our own methods and techniques to test. Of course, there’s yet another important reason why collaborating is so popular, and that is a marketing one. Sharing fans, admirers, clients, can be very beneficial to each of the participants. Having a multiplied call capacity, while triggering a much bigger expectation for the resulting piece.

by Edu Lopez.

  • – for more about Edu check out his site.

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